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
On this day, in 1815, the burned U.S. Library of Congress is re-established with Thomas Jefferson's personal collection of 6,500 volumes. The previous collection, then housed in the Capital building, had been burned on August 24, 1814 as part of an attack on Washington during the War of 1812. Invading British troops marched into Washington under order to lay waste to the unfinished Capitol and other public buildings. The resulting fires reduced all but one of Washington D.C.'s major public buildings to ruins, and only a severe thunderstorm saved the Capitol from being completely destroyed.
Unfortunately, a second fire, on Christmas Eve of 1851, burned the Library of Congress again, destroying nearly two thirds of Jefferson's original collection.
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!
Seventy-eight years ago today, at 7:50 a.m, Sunday, Dec. 7, Japanese aircraft appeared on the horizon over Pearl Harbor. Two hours later, 2,403 American troops were dead at what would remain the largest loss of American life in an attack until the September 11th terrorist attacks. It's one thing to recite facts but another to recall memories. Below is a video of some of the veterans that survived the attacks, recounting their personal experience during the events in their own words.
These are Brigadier General Durbin Ward's pistols which he carried during the Civil War. Durbin Ward was a law partner of Thomas Corwin. He was also a Democrat and a state's rights advocate. Everybody thought he would sit out the Civil War, Democrats were all for letting the south go. But when Lincoln called for volunteers in April of 1865, Ward, who was trying a case in court in Lebanon, left the Court House and went to Washington Hall (now the site of the LCNB drive thru in downtown Lebanon), and was the first to volunteer for the Union. He was in his early 40's and jointed the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. These pistols are Colt Navy revolvers. They are not a matching set as one was made by the Colt works in Connecticut and the other by Colt in London.
Colonel Lewis Drake was an early pioneer to Warren County who came from Pennsylvania on horseback with his first wife. Legend has it he particpated in a shooting contest with Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton and won. His second wife (the first had 12 children before she died) was Rachel Lincoln Drake, daughter of Abraham Lincoln's Great Uncle John who is buried in Pioneer Cemetery. The Colonel and Rachel begat Dr. Issac Lincoln Drake and a whole line of well known Drakes issued thereafter. Think Drake Road and you get the drift.
After his decisive victory over Marc Antony and Cleopatra in 33 BCE, the now uncontested emperor, Augustus Caesar, decided he should have a month named after him (July was already named afer his great uncle, Julius Caesar). Due to his successful military campaigns during what is now known as the month of August, the Roman senate agreed to name the month after the reining emperor. However, since, August only had 30 days, not to incinuate that their emperor was in any way inferior, the senate took a day from February's 29. (Back then, the calendar year began March 1st and alternated between 31 and 30 days (except for February which got the remaing 29.) Then they had to flip the number of days in the remaining months around to not have three 31 day months in a row. Seems like a lot of work!
by Dwight Rowe and Ron Hoffmann
On the morning of July 13, 1950, a B-50D Superfortress bomber, tail number 49-0267, from the US Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC), 97th Bomb Group, took off from Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas and began its long journey in-route to England with a planned stopover at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio: the aircraft was heavily loaded. It was flying over Warren County, Ohio at around 2:54 in the afternoon when the bomber suddenly fell from the sky and crashed approximately 4 ½ miles north east of Mason Ohio. The crash occurred west of State Route 741 and north of Hamilton Road and was being flown by Captain John Adams Jr who, at the time, had 1020 hours flight time. All sixteen crewmembers on board the aircraft were instantly killed in the crash.
Clyde Shutts of Lebanon provided eyewitness testimony to the crash and said he was in his barnyard when he heard a racing engine. He said when he looked up, he saw the plane spiraling, nose down, toward the ground, and it appeared that the plane tried to pull up but then he lost sight of it as it went behind the trees. Mr. Shutts said he then heard a loud explosion.
Additional eyewitness said the plane was flying at approximately 7000 feet when it began a fast decent followed by a stall at approximately 4000 feet where it began a spiral and nosedive and hit the ground. The Air Force Crash Report stated the B-50D created a crater in the ground that was approximately 125 feet in diameter and 20 feet deep. Upon impact, the explosion it created was deafening. Jerry Hoffmann of Clearcreek Township, Warren County, Ohio was 12 years old at the time of the crash and remembers hearing the explosion almost 11 miles away in Ridgeville. The loud explosion was caused by the fuel the plane carried for its 4 Pratt & Whitney R-4360 prop-driven engines and the deadly cargo it carried in its bomb bay: a Mark-4 nuclear bomb.
The Mark-4 nuclear bomb, in use from 1949-1953, was based on the earlier Mark-3 Fat Man bomb design that was used on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. Luckily for Warren County on that overcast and drizzly day, the bomb did not have its physics-package installed at the time of the crash.
The physics-package is the part of a nuclear bomb that carries the fissile material which is imploded or exploded (depending on nuclear bomb design) to cause the nuclear reaction. The Mark-4 weapon on the B-50D that crashed in Warren County did have its high explosives installed though causing the exceptionally loud explosion. The high explosives are used to detonate the physics-package of the atomic bomb.
Almost immediately after the crash, spectators began to arrive at the crash scene, and it was a gruesome sight as there were body parts hanging from the trees and on the ground. The local fire department arrived to extinguish the fire, and began putting up barricades to control the spectators. All highways leading to the crash site were jammed due to spectators trying to get a peek and figure out what was going on. It was estimated that 5000 people came to view the crash site that day. United States Air Force officers from Wright Patterson Air Force Base began arriving shortly afterwards. They took charge of the crash site and brought in bulldozers and clamshell diggers. They were searching for the nuclear bomb but did not tell anyone what they were looking for.
Today, after almost 68 years and the loss of 16 lives on that fateful day in Warren County, there are no visible signs to remind us of that horrendous crash and the nuclear bomb that exploded in Warren County. Representatives of the Auto Pilot Branch, Aircraft Laboratory, HQ AMC were at the scene also to aid in the finding of parts of the auto pilot equipment and conduct further investigation into the possibility that the auto pilot may have caused the accident; the only identifiable part of the auto pilot found was an aileron servo motor.
After a lengthy investigation by the US Air Force, Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer, and Pratt & Whitney, the engine manufacturer, the cause of the crash could not be determined because, as the crash report states: “ Due to the lack of information regarding the flight during which the accident occurred, and the almost complete disintegration of the airplane upon impact, it has been impossible to determine what part, or parts, of the airplane failed or malfunctioned, or any other cause factors to which the accident can be attributed.”
*This article first appeared in the HistoricaLog for Summer/Fall 2018 as "B-50D Plabe Crashes with Nuclear Bomb Onboard in Warren County, Ohio"
Topic: Guadalcanal - A turning point in WWII
Detail: At the beginning World War II, the U.S. took a terrific beating at the hands of the Japanese Army and Navy in the Pacific. That changed on August 7, 1942 with the beginning of the Battle of Guadalcanal. Japanese military forces would never again be on the offensive. John Tonkin, a Marine veteran will look at this crucial campaign and at the observance of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands on August 7, 2012.
Click the link to view the Lunch & Learn
- from the desk of John J. Zimkus | WCHS Historian/Educational Director
(The following is the text of a speech given on November 11, 2018, at Runyan Field in Lebanon, Ohio marking the centennial of the Armistice ending World War I.)
One hundred years ago today, on November 11, 1918, an armistice went into effect. It was the formal agreement to stop the fighting in what was called “The Great War,” “The war to end all wars” better known today as World War I. They didn’t know at that time that a little over 20 years later we had to start numbering such devastating conflicts.
The armistice was between the Allies - Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States, and their opponent, Germany. Separate armistices had already existed between the Allies and Germany’s partners in what was called the Central Powers - Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The armistice was signed in a railway car in an area in Northern France called Compiègne, around 5:00 a.m. It was agreed that at 11 a.m. that same day, November 11, 1918,—“The eleventh hour ,of the eleventh day. of the eleventh month”— the ceasefire would go into effect.
During the 6 hours between the signing of the armistice and its enforcement, although some opposing armies on the Western Front began to withdraw from their positions, along many other areas the fighting continued. Consequently, on the last day of World War I, there were nearly 11,000 casualties, of whom 2,738 were killed.
An American, 23-year-old Henry Gunther from Maryland is generally recognized as the last soldier to die in action in World War I. He was killed at 10:59 a.m. Paris time, 60 seconds before the armistice went into effect.
The actual terms of the armistice, largely written by the Allied Supreme Commander, MarshalFerdinand Foch of the French Army, included the cessation of hostilities, the surrender of aircraft, warships, and military materiel, the release of Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, and eventual reparations.
News of the armistice reached Lebanon, Ohio around 3 in the morning, that Monday, November 11, 1918, about 6 hours after the actual announcement was made in France.
Many of the people who were awake at that time in Lebanon remembered the false United Press dispatch announcing “peace” the previous Thursday and were slow to accept this news as being genuine.
Around 6 a.m. the armistice announcement was verified and, as The Western Star reported, “The fun started.” Church bells, fire bells, train and factory whistles united in what was called a “Glorious hallelujah.”
The noise attracted the attention of every citizen in Lebanon. It was said few people took the time to eat their breakfast that morning but instead rushed into the streets to join the crowds already there. The newspaper reported,“ Then until noon - pandemonium reigned.”
The Lebanon schools, Lebanon High at that time being located were Pleasant Street Park is today, were closed. They were scheduled to open that very day after being shutdown for several weeks due to the deadly Spanish flu epidemic that had spread throughout the country. Now however, teachers and students joined the celebration in the streets.
Stores closed and business in Lebanon in general was suspended. Such signs as “To Hell With the Kaiser” and “Closed to Celebrate” were posted in many the town’s store windows.
Parades sprung up spontaneously all over Lebanon. People shouted themselves hoarse in and effort to be heard and join in the noise of the car horns, cow bells, tin horns, tin pans and other instruments of noisy celebration.
The executive committee of the fraternal organization called the Men of Lebanon hastily and successfully made preparations for a parade to begin at 9:30 a.m. It started from Harmon Hall headed by several members of the Harmon Hall Band. It was said there was scarcely room for people on Broadway. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, school children, men, women and automobiles galore. The procession was said to be nearly a mile long.
After the parade went over the principal streets of town, Judge Frances M. Hamilton was asked to speak. He paid tribute to the brave boys from Lebanon who had helped to achieve this great victory. He then told the crowd that Lebanon will never again hold such a demonstration as on this day, save one - “When our boys come home.”
Several songs were sung by the crowd led by Miss Laura B. Cunningham and elementary teacher in the Lebanon schools. Then every man and woman in the vast group bowed their head in a moment of silent prayer. After that Mayor Murphy proclaimed that day, November 11, 1918, a holiday.
Preparations were then immediately launched for what was described as a “Mammoth parade" for that night.
Promptly at 7 p.m. the great procession began with the Harmon Hall Band providing the music. At “each corner new faces joined in.” It was reported, “This was one time when everyone was an [equal]. The humblest and highest marched side by side.”
Following this parade speeches were made. One was by Judge J. A. Runyan, the namesake of the Runyon Field in which we are gathered this morning. He was from the Local Draft Board. Another was by Attorney Frank C. Anderson representing the Red Cross. Judge F. M. Hamilton read a poem written by Cpl. William McKinney of Lebanon’s own Company E of the First Regiment of the Ohio National Guard who trained on this spot and went into battle at part of the 147th Infantry, 37th Division, of the American Expeditionary Forces.
The last stanza of Cpl. McKinney’s poem reads:
“To mothers of men that have fallen
On the field of battle in France,
Let not your hearts be worried
For they were given a chance
To give their hearts to their maker.
Your prayers were not made in vain.
When the trumpet of judgement has sounded
You and he shall meet again.”
Three days later, on November 14, 1918, an editorial in The Western Star entitled simply “PEACE” said in part:
“Not since the morning stars sang the anthem, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth Peace, good will to men,’ has the world heard so joyful an announcement as that which the wires carried on Monday morning, announcing the signing of the armistice on the part of the German government.
“No wonder Lebanon - Warren County - Ohio - the United States - the World acted as though it were insane with joy. No wonder tears and laughter intermingled. No wonder the old forgot their age and became youths again. No wonder the young assumed the age of discretion and discussed ‘What [Marshal] Foch had done.’ Nothing was to be wondered at . . . on Monday.
“Peace - Sweet Peace - Peace with Victory - Peace with Honor, had come. 100 days ago every cloud was black with the possibilities of an autocratic German victory. 100 days ago there was hardly a bright spot in the sky as big as a man’s hand. But those who had faith saw a bright spot and said, ‘All will be well.’
“As a French woman said, ‘God happened,’ and the bright spot grew in size. God’s emissaries, led by that most wonderful man, General Foch, who left his staff on many an occasion to enter a humble chapel and pray for the success of his army, have overturned the hosts of hell and won a victorious peace.”
Currently in the Mote Gallery of the Harmon Museum is a unique collection of artifacts and memorabilia displayed to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice of WWI. Included in the exhibit is A distinctive medallion minted to venerate the infamous sinking of the Lusitania. With this cruel act, the push for United States’ involvement in the Great War escalated. Original Western Star newspaper articles tell of the patriotism of the citizens of Warren County. The people of this county assembled in great numbers behind their boys, gave at very successful war bond drives and, even in the midst of the Spanish Flu epidemic a terrible sickness, kept the boys from Warren County close to their hearts and prayers. The display also has The doughboy olive drab uniform and personal gear of Dr. Harold Drake, which gives a glimpse into the daily life of a soldier in wartime. As the assistant to a general, Corporal Drake always had carried his gas mask close at hand. There are also well-worn maps and a captured German rifle that were a witness to this brutal confrontation across the Atlantic. With the Armistice on November 11, 1918, peace could finally come to end this Great War, our first world war.
The exhibit will be on display through January of 2020.
This is 23rd in a series of oral histories. To summarise for those who haven't read the first blog post; We will be exploring the many stories of service men and women and the experiences they've had at war. The stories will range from WWII to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To learn about Rusty Adams' experiences, click here.
This is 22nd in a series of oral histories. To summarise for those who haven't read the first blog post; We will be exploring the many stories of service men and women and the experiences they've had at war. The stories will range from WWII to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To learn about Col. Blevins' experiences, click here.
This is 20th in a series of oral histories. To summarise for those who haven't read the first blog post; We will be exploring the many stories of service men and women and the experiences they've had at war. The stories will range from WWII to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To learn about Col. Blevins' experiences, click here.
The notion of identifying your personal stuff has been around for centuries. From scratches made with sticks and stones to sewing labels onto clothing. The same problem of identification came with the military. Whose boots do these belong to? Or, most importantly, whose body is this?
The first incidence of using identification on the battlefield was during the Civil War. Soldiers would sew or pin tags of cloth or paper onto their clothing and effects in order to be identified correctly in case they should die on the battlefield. Some even took the initiative to carve their names onto pieces of wood with a hole on one side for a piece of string to hang it around the neck.
Commercial industries saw a potential in this product and started to market items that could be custom made for each soldier, at his own cost. Harper’s Weekly Magazine advertised “Soldier’s Pins” which could be mail ordered. These disks would be made of silver or gold and inscribed with the individual’s name and unit designation. Even with this obvious need, the U.S. Government did not issue I.D. tags till 1899. (42% of the Civil War dead remain unidentified).
Chaplain Charles C. Pierce was tasked with the creation of the Quartermaster Office of Identification in the Philippines. He recommended the use of an “identity disk” to be part of the field kit for all soldiers. The U.S. Army Regulations of 1913 made identification tags mandatory. By 1917, all combat soldiers wore quarter sized aluminum disks on a chain around their neck.
By the beginning of WWII, the name “Dog Tag “became common because of the similarity between the I.D. tag and the license tag of a canine. During this war, an oblong shape replaced the round disk. This was done in order to place more personal info on the tag. This tag was replaced by a “Notched” tag that used the notch to place it correctly into an embossing machine.
The Army is currently testing a new type of tag that uses digital technology to keep an immense amount of data on each individual; not only name, rank, and serial number but medical history and GPS location. Still worn around the neck, these tags will help in identification and location globally. The “Dog Tag” has come a very long way from a crude, carved wooden disk for courageous Civil War soldiers to the global technology of our present day in order to identify our valiant soldiers all around the world.
Nathaniel Grauwelman as well as various staff and volunteer writers.