Dubbed as the “Wizard of Scenic Creation”, John Rettig was best known for his set designs, creating many open-air pageants in Cincinnati, North Africa, and Mexico. The son of a German beer brewer, John was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He took an interest in art at an early age, beginning to paint frescos when he was just fifteen. He studied at the McMicken School of Drawing and Design (a division of the University of Cincinnati) and graduated in 1881. He later studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati under Frank Duveneck and Henry Potthast before traveling to Europe to study in Paris with Collin and Courtois. As an artist, he was a painter, sculptor, muralist, and theatrical set designer. With his younger brother and fellow artist, Martin, he decorated and modeled Rookwood Pottery. In 1903, he traveled back to Europe and spent most of his time in Northern Holland, in a fishing village named Volendam, which later became his second home. John was the president of the Cincinnati Art Club from 1890 to 1892 and again from 1908 to 1910. He passed away, in Cincinnati, at the age of 75. His paintings are on display in private and public collections around the world.
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!
Today marks the day I was born but it also marks something else. On August 28th, 1963, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his iconic speech to the masses that gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
My favorite college history professor played this speech for us, one day in class, and cried in the wake of its weight. I was lucky enough to find this on LP at a local antique mall. There's just something electrifying about hearing it.
"This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: 'My country, ‘tis of thee...' And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men (and women) and white men (and women), Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
We still have a ways to go for equality, but at least we're making progress.
- Nathaniel (Marketing Manager with WCHS)
In continuing with the family tradition, Zach Lykins joined the Armed Forces. He chose the Marine Corps and was immediatly sent to Afghanistan right out of high school. Listen to his oral history in the interview below.
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"
The annual Civil War Encampment at Glendower Historic Mansion is seeking sponsorship! Sponsors will have their logos printed in our program and as well on signage at the event. If you would like to be a sponsor, please fill out the application form and return it to Harmon Museum 105 S. Broadway, Lebanon, Ohio.
Entertainment Sponsor ($300) - This year, the lovely ladies of Lafferty Pike will be entertaining guests with music, song and dance.
Education Sponsor ($250) - Guests will get the opportunity to experience close quarter drill, learn campfire cooking, learn about period firearms first hand and more!
Gunpowder Sponsor ($250) - Gunpowder is expensive. Who doesn't like to hear things go boom?
If you have any questions, please contact Vicky at 513 9320-1817 by email at email@example.com.
Beedle Station was the first settlement in Warren County and consisted of three buildings. Two were lost to time long ago, but the last had been converted into a Victorian home and lived in until the 1970s! An order for demolition was put in for the removal of the building but our mission to preserve and present history led our director to intercede. Now, with the help of a team of volunteers, the cabin is being cleared of debris and will be moved to its new home in the park next to Harmon Museum. Learn more about the recovery/renovation project on the Dayton Daily News page.
"I am almost finished with 'The Pioneers' by David McCullough. It’s an enjoyable, very readable account of the Ohio Company’s opening of Ohio at Marietta a good 8 years before the first settlers in Warren County Ohio. It is an easy read and should be required in all Ohio Schools. I wish he would write one about our settlement of Ohio. We have just as interesting stories to tell."
-Vicky Van Harlingen, Director of WCHS
C.F. Payne is an artist-illustrator whose artwork has graced the covers of Time Magazine, Readers Digest, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times Book Review and Sunday Magazine, MAD Magazine, der Spiegel, U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic Monthly, Texas Monthly, Boys Life and more. He has been commissioned to paint countless politicians, authors and entertainers. He has illustrated ten children’s picture books, including The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, written by John Lithgow.
His artwork has been exhibited at The Cincinnati Art Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, The Norman Rockwell Museum, The Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration, The Selby Gallery at Ringling College of Art and Design and numerous college and university galleries.
Internationally recognized artist, John Vakaleris, recently wrapped a month long show of his work, that was on display in the Mote Gallery, at Harmon Museum. To show his appreciation, the artist has donated his work, Vakaleris Vacation, to Harmon Museum, with the intent that the piece be sold and proceeds used to benefit the museum. The work is oil on canvas and measures 30" x 30". The painting is currently up for sale at the artist's suggested price of $3,600.
This morning (June 21st), the sun rose on summer and the longest day of the year. Solstice is Latin for "sun standing still," which references the sun's placement in the sky, in this case, at it's highest point of the year.
This day has been celebrated for thousands of years and is one of the first astronomical observations of humankind.
Long thought to be an ancient site for such observation, Stonehenge (5,000 years old) is visited each year by thousands to view this morning's sunrise. You can too with the new 360 degree camera they recently installed; just turn the clock back to sunrise by clocking the blocks at the top (23:54 our time and has a yellow box around it).
Happy Solstice and happy Summer!
-From the desk of John Zimkus-
"Today, the world honors and remembers that 50 years ago Apollo XI astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man ever to step foot on the moon. Neil, however, would want to be remembered for more than that lunar walk five decades ago. Neil was a more than that. He was more than a Korean War Naval fighter pilot who flew 78 combat missions, or the civilian test pilot of the X-15 rocket/jet. He was more than an aerospace engineer and a university professor.
He was a husband and a father. Neil Armstrong was also our neighbor. He was a citizen of Warren County, of Turtlecreek Township and of the Lebanon, Ohio area. For 23 years, Neil Alden Armstrong lived less than two miles from downtown Lebanon. He lived here longer than any other place during his 82 years on this earth.
Many magazine and newspaper articles written about Neil refer to him as a recluse, a person who prized his privacy overall and was reluctant to give interviews. But, as many of you know, Neil did not live a solitary life nor did he withdrawal from society here in Warren County. He helped build the Countryside YMCA by serving on its first board of trustees. He had an office in town for over 20 years. He loved eating at her Village Ice Cream Parlor in Lebanon.
As James R. Hansen author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, an authorized 2005 biography, pointed out in a speech in 2014 at The Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. “The idea that he was a recluse and wanted to avoid the media was false. He did not want to be rich or famous based on being the first man on the moon alone. He left that part of his life for the history books.”
Perhaps the best way to describe Neil can be found in the statement his family released through NASA after he death on August 25, 2012. “Neil Armstrong was . . . a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job.”
Neil, being a former Naval Aviator would probably have agreed with Admiral William “Bull” Halsey statement that, “There are no extraordinary men . . . just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with.” Neil said multiple times that he was not an explorer. He was simply a pilot doing what he was trained to do.
Another part of the Armstrong family's statement read, “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty.”
With that understood, I think he would have appreciated, that back on October 7, 2014, the City of Lebanon had a new 3/4 mile roadway dedicated as Neil Armstrong Way. It connects Ohio SR 123 and SR 63. This small but useful stretch of road serves his former neighbors of Warren County, Turtlecreek Township and Lebanon, Ohio. It makes their lives a little easier and safer. That would be The Neil Armstrong Way."
Fifty years ago today, 600 million people watched with bated breath as "the Eagle" would successfully land on the surface of the moon and Neil Armstrong would utter those now famous words: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." What the 600 million people may not have known was the stories behind that small step.
The Eagle lander had never been tested in the conditions before. Neil Armstrong and crewmate Michael Collins gave it a 50/50 shot at returning. President Richard Nixon prepared two speeches; one if the lander returned and another. "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice."
With even odds, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Neil Armstrong embarked toward the surface of the moon, a NASA landing program guiding them in. The program was to ensure the lander did so safely, however, part way into the process, the two men realized that the program was guiding them to land straight into a crater in which taking off from would have been nigh impossible. Armstrong got the go ahead to take control of the helm and land the Eagle in a new position, safely outside the crater, having only 20 seconds of landing fuel left. (Here's a wonderful video of the 13 minutes leading up to and the actual landing.)
The 600 million people watching Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon did so via an 80ft satellite in Australia. Only having confirmed a live broadcast several weeks before, NASA wasn't sure what to expect. On the day, they came to discover that, due to the positioning of the Earth and their satellites, the Eagle lander's signal wouldn't be receivable by NASA until several minutes AFTER this historic event. Not only would the millions of people around the world miss the landing but NASA would not have contact with its astronauts or their vitals during this crucial phase of the mission. Luckily Australia wasn't in the space race with the US.
Armstrong would become the "first man" to step foot on the moon. Interestingly enough, on previous exploration missions, the commander would always stay behind while the subordinate did the exploring. Stories vary if NASA thought Armstrong should go first or if Aldrin deferred to his CO. In either case, Aldrin would still get to leave his footprints on the moon's surface 20 minutes later. However, out of jealousy, Aldrin took only five photographs of Armstrong while on the moon. The sixth image comes in the form of Armstrong's reflection in Aldrin's visor.
Harmon Museum's newest exhibit, "Brides of Yesteryear", is now open. Featuring more than 25+ wedding gowns worn by Warren County brides between 1870 and 1970. This retrospective of wedding fashions includes photos of the brides wearing the gowns on their wedding day, along with information about the fabric and embellishments used to construct the dresses.
Lisa Holz, a Harmon Museum volunteer and costume historian curated the exhibit under the director of Textile Curator Jeanne Doan. A team of volunteers worked with Holz and Doan to create the exhibit from early February until April 12 when the exhibit opened.
“We are very lucky to have a large collection of soft body mannequins made by past textile department staff and volunteers so we are able to display these fragile dresses without stressing the seams or otherwise damaging the clothing”, said Textile Curator Jeanne Doan. “Our textile collection is our single largest collection at Harmon Museum and we work very hard to preserve and conserve each piece so visitors can enjoy these beautiful creations for years to come”.
Holtz was also be the speaker at an extremely well attended Lunch & Learn, of the same name, on June 12th.
The exhibit is open through November 2019. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10.00.
Staff and volunteers of WCHS