MONROE LEGEND - Monroe Historical Society

Volume 3, Issue 1
January 2015
Monroe Legend
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Christina McElfresh, President
T h e Y e a r i n R e v i e w — 2 014
Anot her
su cces sfu l
Elaine Kuth, V President/Office
Susan Wise, Corr. Sec/Publicity
Frances Neu, Rec Secretary
Chie Yoshimura, Treasurer
Bonnie Kindler, Asst. Treasurer
Dorothy Smith, Curator
To Be Filled - Asst. Curator
Jim Price, Facilities
Anna Hale, Exhibits
Mary Maurer, Director
Susan Wise — Legend Editor
L-R: Christmas on the Corner, Christmas Tea, Madison Twp. Historical Society visit, Cruise-In at the Cabin, Monroe Fire Dept. moves the old Byer’s
sleigh, Spring Tea, Maggie Delaney
program, and making Apple Butter.
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Presidents message
Happy New Year!
2014 was a year
filled with success
My name is Christina
McElfresh. As the new Presi- and forward modent of the Monroe Historical mentum. Thank
Society, I am looking forward you to our Board
to a year filled with new pro- members, our
membership and
grams, fun events, and crevolunteers for
ating lasting friendships with
our members! I want to take making such a
difference and for ensuring
this opportunity, along with
the vitality of our Society.
the Board of Directors, to
thank our past President, Jane Some highlights include:
Majors, for all of her years of Increased attendance at our
dedicated service and amazing general membership programs, receiving grant monleadership. Thank you Jane!
ey for a new roof on the log
I would also like to congratu- cabin, creating a Preservalate Elaine Kuth for accepting tion and Acquisitions Comthe role of Vice President and mittee, continued success
Francis Neu for accepting the and participation for our
events, and the addition of a
role of Recording Secretary!
Christmas Tea event!
We have a wonderful team
filled with great ideas and enthusiasm! 2015 is going to be The year ended with our 3rd
annual "Christmas on the
a great year!
you to consider volunteering
Corner" held Sat, Dec
on one! Committees include:
13th and Sun, Dec
14th . The two day
Preservation and
event included Mrs.
Claus and Santa visiting
the museum and talkNewsletter
ing to all of the good
Yard maintenance
little boys and girls.
Thank you to the ChilExhibits
dren’s Bell Choir from the
Special Events
Monroe United Methodist
Church for their beautiful
Christmas music on Sunday.
Our membership drive will
The purpose of the Monroe
begin in January. If you are
Historical Society is to
interested in learning more
about the history of Monroe "Preserve the History of
Monroe for Future Generaor would like to support the
society by becoming a mem- tions". The Museum at 10 E
Elm Street is open on Monber, you are welcome. Dues
days from 10am-12pm. The
should be paid by March 1.
1910 Building and the Log
We are also looking for volun- Cabin are open by appointteers!! We have several com- ment. Call 513-539-2270.
mittees and we would love for
— Kristie
Found by Jim Price, it has a real silverware
handle & the only markings are “web sterling
handle”. The tines are stainless steel. Call us
at 539-2270 or email us at [email protected] if you know the answer!
Events & Activities
In cooperation with Monroe Local Schools, we will be showing the 2004 documentary: “The Lemon-Monroe History Project”. Made and produced by Tom
Burklow and his technology students, this 90 minute movie highlights the history of our high school. Program will be held at the East Ave Community Room,
6 East Ave., Monroe Ohio 45050 (next to the Monroe Lending Library).
FREE! (we’ll even provide the popcorn and drinks!)
All programs are now held at the Monroe Community Room
(next to the Monroe Lending Library), 6 East Avenue, Monroe, OH 45050
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Then & Now: Brandywine/Red Onion Hotel
Built in 1850, the only known photo of the old hotel with
the 4th floor. The main entrance was on Church St and
the side door went to the cellar. There is rumor that this
was once a stop along the Underground Railroad.
Today, the former stage coach stop/hotel is the home of
the Brandywine restaurant. Soon to open, will be Main
St Social on the bottom floor. The building is a landmark
on the old “Cincinnati-Dayton Pike”.
The last time you visited the Outlet Mall, did you notice the street sign? Did you wonder “who the heck was
Pierson Sayre”? In short, he was the last surviving Revolutionary War veteran in Butler County. But he was much
more than a soldier.
Sayre was born at Providence, New Jersey in 1761. At the outbreak of
the war in 1775, he was too young to join the Army but by age 17, he
was fighting with General Greene until the rebellion ended in 1783
having attained the rank of Major. Over a third of New York City had
been burned during the war and carpenters and builders were in
great demand and Sayre ended up learning the masters craft. In
1790, he moved to Uniontown Pennsylvania and became sheriff but
the lure of the west was great and Sayre, along with his wife, Catherine Lewis, their son Lewis and daughter Susan, came to Butler County in 1809, purchasing a farm and popular tavern 7 miles north of Hamilton on the road to Middletown (today Rt.
4) called Cross Keys. He later sold the property and moved to Cincinnati, operating the Green Tree tavern. He
then purchased a tract of land in Lemon Township, from Col. James Clark along the old Cincinnati-Franklin road
where he lived until 1814. He sold the property to John H. Piatt and it would then become Monroe in 1817.
Now settled in Hamilton, he was elected Butler County sheriff in 1817 and retained that post until the Miami canal was finished when he became the toll taker. In 1835, he became toll taker on the new covered bridge that
connected Hamilton and Rossville (now the west side of Hamilton). While sheriff, he built many buildings, including the female academy and 2 public offices that adjoined the Court House. He experienced the birth of our nation and lived through 12 presidents. He saw the emergence of travel via bridges, canals and railroads—including
the very first train from Cincinnati to Dayton. Sayre died in 1852 at age 91 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
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N e ws F ro m T h e Pas t
20 January 1916
19 December 1936
25 September 1925
Last Saturday evening Mrs.
George Miller was very much
surprised when thirty walked
in upon her. The evening was
spent playing cards and at a
late hour a light lunch was
served. A euchre club was
planned and will be known as
the Monroe Eurchre club.
When John H Piatt and Nathanial
town of Monroe in 1817, they
had no idea that it would become the find village it is
today, with its own waterworks plant, a great school,
bank, and all of the conveniences of the modern age.
Auto goes over steep bank near
home in Monroe
5 May 1910
While Virgil Ellis, six year
old son of Robert Ellis, of
416 South Avenue, was playing
on a teeter-totter in the
Monroe school yard this morning he fell from the plank in
such a way that he was struck
by it and painfully hurt.
16 February 1924
When fire at school was false
alarm, other runs made
Boys were playing in the Monroe school yard late Friday
evening when two fire trucks
pulled up and firemen scrambled into the building. Hopes
of the youngsters for several
“free days” were blasted when
firemen emerged from the basement of the building a few
minutes later.
The door to the furnace had
been left open and a passerby
saw the heated coals and suspected a fire, sent in the
25 April 1924
Schueltheiss Home Damaged
caught fire Saturday morning.
After vigorous attempts the
fire was extinguished, doing
considerable damage to the
Following the unusual procedure of the villages of those
days, schools and churches
first were built after a settlement had even a few families.
Monroe, however, was on the
Dayton-Cincinnati Pike, mid way between the two cities.
Traffic was unusually heavy
and hotels and taverns were
started to accommodate the
t r av el e rs -r e me mb er i ng
course in those days a trip
from Dayton to Cincinnati was
two or three days, with overnight stops.
The town at one time was the
center of activities for the
country all about - it still
is to a considerable extentbut
shops there and its history
shows that wagons, plows and
patent gates were made.
With its fine equipment of
today Monroe remains the same
quiet peaceful but busy town
which has marked its progress
of more than 100 years.
7 November 1925
A new jail is being constructed where the former one was
burned. A garage for the fire
engine is also being built.
E. Schultheiss, of Monroe,
narrowly escaped serious injury several days ago when the
turned turtle down a steep
road near his home.
Despite being pinned under the
wrecked car for approximately
15 minutes, Schultheiss, who
was rescued by strangers who
hear his cries of help, suffered only slight bruises on
his head and body.
4 December 1924
The new school house at Monroe
has been the subject of considerable mirth, and yet it is
not so funny for those who
must use the building. It
seems as if the Monroe school
house was improved at a cost
of something over one hundred
thousand dollars and equipped
with shower baths, sanitary
drinking fountains, etc. and
then it came in time for the
contractor to move out and the
children and teachers to come
in, it was found there was no
water in the building. So the
drinking fountains are pleasing looking ornaments. The
pupils go to the private houses of the village and ask for
a drink.
All articles are taken from:
Butler County Democrat,
Hamilton Telegraph,
Daily Signal or
Hamilton Ohio Journal-News
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Found in our files – an original signed bank note for $26,000, drawn from the Office of Discount and Deposit in
Cincinnati, a branch of the Bank of the United States. Dated September 2, 1817, this was written just 8 days
before John H. Piatt and Nathaniel Sackett advertised to sell lots in their newly platted town of Monroe.
Piatt, of Cincinnati, was a wealthy and respected businessman and the first private banker west of the Alleghenies. The John H. Piatt Company purchased many large tracts of public land; several being former Indian reservations recently opened up after the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. Among them was the land which would later
become the city of Toledo (originally a part of Monroe County).
John Hopper Piatt was the son of Col. Jacob Piatt, a Revolutionary War soldier who served on George Washington’s staff. During the War of 1812, John contracted with the U.S. government as the new deputy commissary
to provide provisions for the Army. Unfortunately, in 1814 the government
went bankrupt, the Capitol and other buildings were burned by the British
and Piatt was never paid. Pleading to his patriotism and promises of payment, he continued fulfilling the contract at his own expense by liquidating
his vast personal assets and borrowing from friends. Shockingly, he was
eventually imprisoned for his many debts, only being released by an act of
Congress. In February 1822, while in Washington to see now President
(and former War Secretary) Monroe and plead his case to be paid for his
services, he died penniless at age 40. His heirs tirelessly sued for what he
was owed, until in 1875 the U.S. Supreme Court finally awarded reparations of $131,508.90, without interest. In 1916, over 100 years since the
original contract, Senator Pomerene of Ohio introduced S.B. 6371 for the
payment of $517,501.82 in interest to the estate. It is unknown if it ever
got out of committee. Longtime friend and future President William Henry
Harrison described Piatt as "pledging his entire fortune and credit to his
Painting of John H. Piatt
country so her armies in the Northwest Territory would not go hungry”.
John H. Piatt was brother to equally well known entrepreneur Benjamin M. Piatt. Cincinnati’s first park, Piatt
Park, is named after the two brothers who donated the land. Benjamin’s sons, Abram and Donn, built the Piatt
Castles in West Liberty, Ohio – MacOChee and MacACheek. Benjamin’s daughter, Hannah Isabella married
Ralph Runkle, and their son was Civil War Col. Benjamin Piatt Runkle – the former Miami University roommate
of James Parks Caldwell of Monroe. (see the story on page 7)
But the question remains – if Piatt was so deep in debt by 1815, where did he get $26,000 in 1817? How much
did he actually invest in Monroe? Several years ago, Cowan’s Auction House, sold a lot of Piatt’s business papers. They were reported to include insights into the development of several area towns. Monroe, perhaps?
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J a m e s
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Pa r k s
C a l d w e l l
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Parks, as he was called, was born in Monroe in 1841 to Dr. William W.
Caldwell, a former teacher, and Isabella H. Parks Caldwell. He was the
oldest of 8 children, 4 girls and 4 boys. Young James was enrolled in the
Monroe Presbyterian Academy at age 5. Obviously gifted, by 1854 his
school principal wrote that he had out learned all they had to offer, including advanced mathematics and Latin. It was suggested he move towards a higher education.
A mere boy of 14, described as frail and delicate, Parks began college life
as a sophomore at Miami University in nearby Oxford. He was quickly
accepted into the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity upon the reading
of one of his poems. His classmates of the time were among those destined for greatness – Benjamin Harrison, U.S. President – Whitelaw Reid,
Ambassador – Calvin Brice, U.S. Senator, to name just a few. After a dispute and divided vote with DKE over who would be elected Poet in the
Erodelphian Literary Society, on June 28, 1855 he joined with his roommate Benjamin Piatt Runkle, Franklin Scobey, Thomas Bell, Daniel
Cooper, Isaac Jordan, and William Lockwood, to form the Sigma Chi fraternity. Over the course of the next 159 years, future brothers would be
John Wayne, Brad Pitt, David Letterman, Woody Hayes, Urban Meyer,
Caldwell in 1855 at age 14
Drew Brees, Barry Goldwater and Andy Rooney. Coincidently, their society colors are blue and gold, the same as Monroe.
Parks graduated Miami in 1857 at age 16. After 17 years in Monroe, his family moved to
Hamilton where Parks began the study of law under Judge James Clark. In 1858, he
moved south to Mississippi where he was a private tutor and Latin teacher. He quickly
became principal of Palmetto Academy in Panola County (there is also reference that he
founded the school).
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Parks, felt compelled to enlist in the Confederate
Army. He fought at Shiloh, Iuka and Corinth, including the disastrous assault on Battery
Robinette. He was captured in 1863 at Port Hudson and taken to Johnson’s Island near
Sandusky, Ohio as a POW. Lieut. Caldwell was offered release twice due to political favors pulled by his old college friend Runkle, now a Union Army Colonel. Caldwell refused, citing allegiance to the Confederacy, remaining imprisoned until wars end.
Lt. Caldwell — 1861
After the war, Parks came back to Hamilton but soon was headed south again. In 1866 he was admitted to the
Mississippi bar and later moved to Los Angeles to engage in legal work and journalism. He also spent time in
Wyoming, but settled for good in 1888 in Gulfport and Biloxi, where he became a respected land attorney. A lifelong bachelor, he died in 1912 at age 71. Copies of the Sigma Chi
quarterly were found in his room at the Kennedy Hotel. Many of his poems, written in
Latin, have been published. The Beverly Hills Chapter #2068 of the United Daughters of
Confederacy is named after him. In 2010, A Northern Confederate at Johnson’s Island, the
Civil War Diaries of James Parks Caldwell was published.
Caldwell in 1905
"Those who came after had a harder task, out of which their native energy has wrought a notable success. Men of constructive intellect, it was theirs to conserve the spirit by a radical
change of form, to repair and remodel the crumbling foundations, and to rear thereon the stately structure which we now behold.” June 28, 1905 — Sigma Chi 50th anniversary speech
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Santa and
Mrs. Claus
ready to
greet the
Tea table set up in
Santa’s Toy Shop!
The old Byer’s family
antique sleigh decorates
the museum porch!
Christmas on the Corner was another huge success! Santa & Mrs. Claus
passed out over 200 candy canes and cookie bags to the children who
came to visit. Leslie Sumner and Jessie Hull also hosted our very first
Christmas Tea to a sold out crowd and plans are underway for next year.
Our North Pole mailbox & basket of letters!
A tradition started in 2010, the Society ‘elves’ wrote and mailed over 125
personalized letters from Santa to children who dropped a wish list into
our North Pole mailbox during the Lion’s Club pancake breakfast. It is always heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) to read the little one’s
desires. Our many thanks to the volunteers and supporters who help with
these many holiday events during an already busy time of year.
Giving Santa
their wish list!
Family & friends gathering
for a festive Christmas tea.
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T h a t
Don’t let this be your LAST ISSUE of the Monroe Legend!
Our membership drive is now underway and we need your support now more
than ever as we continue our work to preserve the history of Monroe.
Did you know that a single archival quality dress box costs us $56? We are always happy for your donations, but keep in mind there are expenses involved
in ‘holding’ your items for the ensuing generations. We also have 3 museum
buildings to upkeep (we spent $15,000 just for A/C, furnace and water heater
repairs in 2014) plus our special projects, quarterly programs and community
events, such as the annual Cruise-In at the Cabin and Christmas on the Corner.
Being all volunteer operated since 1967 and a 501(c)3 non-profit, we are good
stewards of your hard earned money! If you are already a Life Member or paid
your 2015 dues — we THANK YOU for your continuing support!
Our sincerest THANKS to Helen Smith
Schrier, daughter of the late Louise Smith,
for her generous donation of $500 in
memory of her mother’s dedication to the
Monroe Historical Society.
½ pound chopped suet, ½ pound flour, ½ pound
bread crumbs, 1 pound grated carrots, 1 pound
potatoes, 1 pound currants, 1 pound raisins (stoned
& cleaned), 1 pound apples, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp
ginger, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ of a
grated nutmeg, 1 pound sugar and a good pinch of
salt. Mix all ingredients with water or milk into a
soft paste. Boil in floured cloth for 4 hours, or in a
basin or mould for 5 hours. Good.
The Farmers' Alliance History & Agricultural Digest - 1891
NEW LIFE MEMBER — James R. Steward!
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Letters to My Loved Ones
The Historical Society has a unique collection of original “War Letters” dating back to the Civil War,
WWI & WWII written by local soldiers to their loved ones. We are pleased to share these moving
stories with you in this new series and salute the sacrifice these brave men made for our freedom.
over here now
it will be a long
Dear Sister,
time before
either one of us
Received two letters
are back. The
from you last week. One was written
war news has
on the 9th and the other of the 23rd
been very enof September. You wrote in the last
couraging lately
one that you thought Frank was on
but it is a long
his way over. Hope you are mistaken
ways from over
and that he will be lucky enough to
yet. Expect it will be from six
stay in the states. He may be tired of
months to a year after it is all settled
Fortress Monroe and all that but it
before we get back. Hilda sent me
won’t take him long to get tired of
some pictures of Frank, Brownie and
this place and then he will wish he
mother. Was sure glad to get them.
was back. Yes we are getting plenty
She also wrote that she was sending
to eat now although it was mighty
me some magazines but I hardly
scarce for awhile. You see we are not
think I
will get
They are
to busy
with necessities
to bother
them. I
sent her
my Xmas
card and
told her
to send
my sweater in it if
U.S. troops stand in trenches during World War I in France in 1918. (AP Photo)
have to
camps here like we were in the
be a certain size and my sweater may
states. For the first week or ten days
make to large a package. Don’t know
but took a change for the worse and
if it makes much difference as I
has rained nearly every day since.
doubt if we will receive they anyhow.
While it has been very damp and
Have plenty of underwear and I
chilly we haven’t had any freezing
won’t freeze if I fail to get it but as
rain yet. Am glad Grandville has a
she had worked so hard in making it
good job. Am afraid it will be up to
thought I had better give her a
him to look after mother. If Frank is
chance to send it to me. It is dinner
#3 of 6
in the series.
time now so I will bid you goodbye.
With love to all
Private Stanley M. Wones
Med Dept 153 Inf
APO 940
American E.F. France
(addition to letter:)
We just go into a town and take possession of it. Sometimes we are quartered in hay monds and then again in
unoccupied residence. At the present
time we are in a school house. It is a
new building built in 1914 but has
never been used before. The hospital
is on the first and second floor and
we sleep in the attic. We have no
beds or cots but sleep on the floor
however we have plenty of blankets
and have suffered from the cold. Get
up at 6AM and go to bed about
10PM. Have very little to do between times in fact the hardest thing
we have had to do is put in the time.
Have moved four times since landing here. All the town I have been in
so far are the size of Monroe. There
is nothing to do. We didn’t even
have anything to read for awhile but
are now getting a daily paper and
also have a few books. The
weather has been
WWI Pvt. Stanley Monroe Wones, 7th Army
Field Artillery, was born in 1889 in Monroe.
His parents were Rev. Creighton (Monroe
Methodist Church) & Bertha Wones. He
had 3 sisters, Mary Warner, wife of Clarence Warner, Hazel & Pearl. He had 2
brothers, Frank & Granville. He married
Hilda Herzel just before enlistment.
Letters are reprinted exactly as written, including any misspellings.
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Thanks To Our Legend Supporters!
Because of the generosity of the following individuals and businesses, we are able to make this dream
of sharing our local history a reality come true in your mailbox—the Monroe Legend!
Progressive Animal Welfare Society
Your Neighborhood Animal Adoption Center
6302 Crossings Blvd. Monroe, Ohio 45050 P.O. Box 684
The Monroe Historical Society: Preserving the past for the future.
Monroe Historical Society
P.O. Box 82
10 E. Elm Street
Monroe, OH 45050
Phone: (513) 539-2270
E-mail: [email protected]
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Founded in 1967, the Monroe Historical Society is an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 non-profit organization. # 31-1175074
Our journey from 1817 to present day
2 015 M e m b e r s h i p Fo r m
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