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Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History


Miami County Ohio

Chapter 15


The Children's Home - Benevolence of John H. Knoop
The Schmidlapp Free Public School Library, Piqua
The Troy Free School Library - The Young Men's Christian Association The Woman's Christian Temperance Union
The Young Women's Christian Temperance Unions
Colored People's Temperance Union
Woman's Christian Association of Troy
The Ball Memorial Hospital at Piqua - The Altrurian Club of Troy
The Civic League - Regimental and Other Military Organizations
The Maryland Association

The Children's Home--It was not until recent years that public institutions sprang up within the county. The need of these had long been felt. The County Infirmary had cared for the indigent, including their off-spring, but the time came when a proper home for the latter was found to be a necessity. The Infirmary was not regarded as a suitable home for the little wards of the county, and a place was needed where they could be educated apart from the influences that surround an infirmary. To this end many discussions arose, but nothing promised to come out of them till a single man stepped forward and solved the problem.

John H. Knoop, a bachelor, a man of wealth and one of the first settlers of the county, gave stability to the idea of a Children's Home. He possessed several hundred acres of excellent land which was situated in Elizabeth Township. Mr. Knoop emigrated to the county at an early day and settled at Staunton. His old cabin, said to be the first house erected within the limits of the county, is standing at the present day upon the old Knoop farm now occupied by William R. Saunders. Perhaps it was his own boyhood spent in the wilderness of the Miami which caused John H. Knoop to sympathize with the homeless child, the little one cast adrift upon the world, sometimes by the act of heartless parents, and always by circumstances over which the waif had no control. He resolved to brighten the future of the homeless child and to this end he proposed to deed to the county land upon which should be erected a Children's Home, where the poor youth of the county could be housed and schooled away from all improper influences.

The Women's Christian Association first brought before the public the necessity for an institution of this kind in 1877, and this was so well received that the directors of the County Infirmary advocated it in their report, which was made in March of that year. On the 4th of June, John H. Knoop (conjointly with his brother Jacob) conveyed to the county, through its commissioners, Isaac Clyne, W.H. Northcutt and D.C. Branson, 160 acres of land situated in Elizabeth Township, to be used for all purposes of a Children's Home. The county auditor, W.I.Tenney, was authorized by the commissioners to inform the voters of the county that they would be called upon to vote on the proposition to build a Children's Home, at the coming October election. The need of such an institution was so apparent that it was thought it would carry unanimously, but 175 votes were cast against the building of the Home to 5,891 in favor of it.

Having sanctioned Mr. Knoop's munificent proposition, the good work was not allowed to lag. During the following spring the commissioners visited various children's homes for the purpose of familiarizing themselves with the construction of the proper buildings, and in May, l878, building contracts amounting to over $16,000 was awarded to several parties. The plans and specifications of the main building were drawn up by D.W. Gibbs, an architect of Toledo. Having progressed thus far, R.P. Spiker, of Piqua, Jacob Roher, of Tippecanoe City and Samuel K. Harter, of Troy, were a pointed trustees and in January, 1879, Washington Barnes of Troy was made superintendent. The building was finished and ready for occupancy the last of that month. Mr. Barnes served as superintendent fill 1891, when he resigned, to be followed by Henry Jay, who later gave way to Rufus Fish, who is the present efficient superintendent, while his wife fills the position of matron of the institution.

Since the erection of the Home proper other commodious buildings and annexes have been added, until now the Knoop Children's Home is one of the best institutions of the kind in the state. Within the last few years a handsome chapel and schoolhouse have been built on the grounds, and everything has been done for the comfort of the children. The farm, so generously donated to the county by John and Jacob Knoop is very productive, one of the best east of the Miami. It is well drained and cared for and annually, under the present management, brings forth good crops. The Children's Home is governed by a board of trustees who aided by the superintendent, makes an annual report to the commissioners, which report is always open for inspection by the public. In connection with the Home is a well-conducted Sabbath school and the day school conducted by a corps of excellent teachers is a credit to the institution.

Visitors to the Home are admitted from 1 to 4 p.m. except Saturday and Sunday and the Sunday school is open to every one. The regular meetings of the trustees take place on the first Monday of each month, when friends and relatives of the children are allowed to call upon them. Sometimes the children were taken out of the Home and raised by proper parties and these children were looked after by the superintendent, who sees that they are well cared for and properly schooled. The average number of children occupying the Knoops Home is about sixty. A competent physician is regularly employed by the trustees to look after the health of the children, and their every want is supplied. Miami County is proud of the Knoop Children's Home, as well it may be, for it fills a longfelt want and is today the most prominent of its public institutions. The present roster of the Home is as follows: Superintendent, Rufus Fish; matron, Mrs. Rufus Fish; trustees, David DeWeese, John T. Knoop, Ellis Kerr, and C.L. Bennett.

The Schmidlapp Free Public School Library--The largest public library within the limits of the county is the Shmidlapp Free Public School Library situated in Piqua. This handsome library was secured through the generosity of Jacob Schmidlapp, a wealthy gentleman of Cincinnati, but born and raised in Piqua. The Library was organized in 1890 and at first had quarters in the old Schmidlapp home on Main Street and at first consisted of two rooms, the stock room and reading room. These quarters were soon found to be inadequate and in 1898 a large addition was built. At the present time the building contains a large stock room, storeroom, two well appointed reference rooms, a children's room, storeroom, librarian's office and the office of the clerk of the Board of Education. The library is supervised by the Board of Education of Piqua, which consists of the following persons: President, Oscar Fisher; vice-president, Mrs. W.P. Orr; clerk, George Dettmer; trustees, C.C. Jelleff, Otto Von Bargen, Dr. W.J. Prince and F.P. Brotherton.

The Schmidlapp Library does not issue a printed report as do other public institutions of the kind, but the librarian annually puts out a statistical account of the library's patronage, etc. The Library now contains about 15,000 volumes and h as a circulation of over 50,000 books a year. Its shelves are well stocked with books of every sort and keep up with the demands of the reading public. Its active personnel is as follows:, Librarian, Jessie H. Masden; assistant librarians, Sue Hetherton , Gertrude Irvin; library committee, Charles Jelleff, Will J. Prince, M.D. The Schmidlapp Free School Public Library is the pride of the citizens of Piqua and is well patronized. The volumes on its shelves are selected by a discriminating committee and none but the best literature of the day is found there.

Free School Library-The nucleus of the Troy' Free School Library was brought together in the "Reception Room" of the old Edwards school building by the beloved first superintendent of the Troy public schools, William N. Edwards. From time to time a few additions were made to this by the classes graduating from the school, but at the end of twenty years there were only 150 volumes, but these were all well selected books. In I88O the public spirited citizens of Troy determined that Troy should have a public, library and a number of professional men organized a lecture course, each man delivering one lecture. The proceeds of these entertainment's were used in maintaining a reading room for a few months, but there being no funds to keep up the library, it was dropped for the time. In I885 C.L. VanCleve, then superintendent of the Troy schools, moved the school library to the new Kyle Building, appointed one of the high school pupil's librarian, wrote to several of the older graduates living in other cities for donations, and arranged to give out the books to pupils and citizens who held cards, the cards being issued to any one who donated $5 to the purchase of new books. Not much use was made of the library, however, for the reason that it was in a remote part of the town, was only open during a limited number of hours each week and the patrons of it were mostly people who had as good, if not better libraries of their own.

In March 1894, a number of women in Troy organized the Altrurian Club, with the avowed purpose of creating a sentiment in favor of a public library. In 1895 the Altrurian Club petitioned the Board of Education to place the school library in a room accessible to all and to make it a free public library. The school board consented, providing a room could be obtained. The club agreed to raise a large sum of money for the expenses of the library as an inducement to the City Council to grant the use of a room in the City Building. A small room on the second floor of the City Building was granted them and the school board allowed the school library to be moved to the City Building. Mrs. Clarissa D. Williams was appointed librarian and the room was opened to the public one- half of each day. The work of cataloguing the books was at last completed and the Troy Public Library opened to the public December 5, 1896, the total number of books at that time being 2,111, and nine magazines were placed up on the reading table. The Altrurian Club raised over one thousand dollars for the support of this library by conducting a number of entertainment's, issuing a Woman's Edition of the Miami Union and publishing two editions of the Altrurian Cookbook. The editors of the three county papers published in Troy, The Miami Union, The Buckeye, and the Democrat, assisted in creating a sentiment for, the public library by each week publishing either an editorial or news item. Other literary clubs in Troy began making donations each year to the public library until 1902, when the time seemed ripe for establishing the library upon the basis that it should be supported by the tax payers of Troy. A mass meeting of all the clubs in the city was held in September 1902, at which time it was decided to petition the city council to donate the room on the first floor of the City Building for library purposes. This room was then used as a post office, but the lease would terminate in a few months, and the post of ice would be moved to the first floor of the, I.O.O.F. Temple. The City Council granted the request and appropriated sufficient money to remodel and furnish the room, which would be ready for occupancy by May 1st, 1903. That day was set for a "book shower," and all winter committees from every club in Troy were busy working to make the book shower a success. On May 1st 1903 H.P. Weatherhead, as president of the Council, formally presented the furnished library room to the city of Troy, A.F. Broomhall in behalf of the Board of Education and the citizens of Troy accepted the gift. The donations received that day amounted to $1051.50 in money and 1,300 volumes of books, many of them being valuable books of reference which would have cost several dollars per volume.

A tax was levied for the support of the library and over $3,000 each year is appropriated for the expenses of the library. The annual report of the librarian shows that on November 30, 1908, there were 9,640 books in the library, fifty-eight magazines upon the reading table and a number of daily papers and all the weekly papers of the county, these last being donated by the publishers. During the year 16,468 visitors had dropped in either to look over the magazines or to consult books of reference; 2,575 people are enrolled as patrons and the number of books placed in circulation during the year was 34,867, the library having been closed several weeks by order of the Board of Health because of an epidemic of small-pox in the city. During the month of March 3,767 books were issued. The library is now open every day, except Sundays and legal holidays, and under the efficient management of the librarian, Mrs. Clarissa D. Williams, and her assistants, Miss Blanche Mitchell and Miss Anna Mary Dinsmore, it is an aggressive force in all that pertains to the betterment of the individual and, through the individual, the civic life.

The Young Men's Christian Association of Piqua is another prominent institution, which has already accomplished a great work. Since its founding a few years ago it has advanced along the lines of moral improvement until it has reached the position it occupies today. It is the only institution of the kind in the county. Others which have been suggested have not materialized, so that Piqua may be called the pioneer in this direction. This excellent YMCA has the following officers: President, J.H. Clark; vice- president, H.K. Wood; secretary, J.F. Stewart; treasurer, E.M. Bell; general secretary, Edmund McDonald, Jr.; musical director, Christ F. Kunz, Jr.; office secretary, Ray Besanceney; board of trustees, Charles H. Browia, H.H. Gravett; D.O.; E.W. Lape, D.F. Licklider, L.W. Pool, A.G. Rundle, C.F. Wilder, J.B. Williamson.

Woman's Christian Temperance Union -The county has been thoroughly organized by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. There are branches of this noble institution in every township and the workers are indefatigable in the good cause. The W.C.T.U. of Miami County is of comparatively recent growth. A few years ago there were few within the county but through the earnest effort of the Christian women the work has received a stimulus, which has not been allowed to lag. Following are the presidents of the various unions now in the county, with the name of the president of each organization: West Milton, Mrs. Rev. Maxwell, Laura, Mrs. Mattie Brandon; Potsdam, Mrs. E.P. Stauffer; Phoneton, Mrs. Ollie Bell; Brandt, Mrs. Emma Heffner; Tippecanoe City, Mrs. Mary Ross; Piqua, Mrs. John Miller, Bradford. Mrs. Margaret Winters; Lena Mrs. Ida Duer; Covington Mrs. Amanda Kendig; Pleasant Hill, Mrs. Martha Shaffer; Troy, Mrs. Mary Westlake; Casstown, Mrs. Callie Webb.

Young Women's Christian Temperance Union - There are five Young Women's Christian Temperance Unions in the county in addition to the foregoing. They are as follows: Fletcher, president, Mrs.J.E. Eichelbarger; Pleasant Hill, Mrs. Bertha Troas; Piqua, Mrs. Ida Bayes; Covington, Miss Lova Williams; Troy, Miss Sue Statler. There is also two Young Men's Christian Temperance Unions. The Troy Y.M.C.T.U. was organized three years ago and is now in a flourishing condition with a membership of over sixty . This society has rooms on Water Street in the McCullough Building, where a Bible class is conducted. Another Y.M.T.C.U. is conducted at Ludlow Falls.

A Colored People's Temperance Union is conducted in Troy, of which Mrs. Elizabeth Fletcher, wife of Rev. Fletcher, is president. Summing up, Miami County has over 600 members of the various temperance unions operated today within its borders and these societies have worked untiringly to secure local option within the county and as Miami last fall voted dry, they feel that they have achieved a great victory.

Apropos of temperance in 1873 an attempt was made to rid the county of its saloons in a decidedly unique manner. This is called the Woman's Crusade. Bands of women, appeared in front of saloons and held religious services on the sidewalk. The excitement extended to the remotest borders of the county and continued till the end of the crusade. Despite the earnest efforts of the women but little was effected. The Crusaders were, as a rule, treated respectfully by the vendors of liquor and in some instances were permitted to hold services in the barrooms. Very few men took part in the Crusade of 1873, the whole work devolving upon the women. After awhile the Crusaders discovered that their efforts were unavailing and the effort was abandoned. In 1908 the second crusade against the liquor interests was inaugurated under the provisions of the Rose Law recently passed by the Legislature. The requisite number of signatures to call an election were secured and this event took place November 24th. Prior to the election an exciting campaign was inaugurated by the opposing parties known as the "wets" and the "drys," temperance or local option meetings were held in every section of the county and great demonstrations were held in the larger towns. Speakers from other states were introduced into the county and the campaign was not entirely free from, personal "amenities." The liquor men whose headquarters were in Piqua held no public meetings. One of the largest votes ever polled in the county was had on the 24th. It resulted in a majority of 1,309 for the "drys.", On December 24th the saloons and breweries in the county closed their doors and Miami joined the other "dry" districts of the State.

The Woman's Christian Association of Troy is a strong charitable organization which is given rooms in the City Building by the City Council. Here every Saturday afternoon the members of the society conduct a sewing-school, teaching the children of the poor how to sew. As soon as a child completes a garment it is given her to wear, and thus many of the poorer children are taught how to become neat seamstresses and so grown able to earn a good living. This society also takes special pride in looking after the comfort of the poor of the city and many families are kept by them through the rigors of the winter. Annually the Knights of Pythias of Troy give a Charity Ball, the proceeds of which are turned over to the Woman's Christian Association for expenditure among the needy as is also the annual Thanksgiving offering at the Union Thanksgiving services.

Ball Memorial Hospital-The only public hospital in the county is the Ball Memorial Hospital at Piqua. This hospital was opened a few years ago and is conducted on advanced lines. It employs a corps of competent surgeons and nurses and so far has been very successful, treating all kinds of cases. It was erected largely through the instrumentality of a Mr. Ball, who was once a prominent resident of the city. A few years ago a hospital was opened at Troy, but it was not operated very long and now no longer exists.

The beginning of the Memorial Hospital was had in 1904 when Mrs. Edward C. Thayer, of Keene, N. H., proposed to erect and give to the city a hospital to cost $20,000, to be known as the Memorial Hospital, in memory of the late De Los C. Ball, her brother, and at one time a respected resident of Piqua. The generous offer was accepted and five acres on Park Avenue were secured. The hospital is conveniently situated and is one of the most compete hospitals in the country. All departments are well equipped. The operating room, sterilizing and anesthetizing rooms are on the third floor, also a pathological laboratory for the accommodation of physicians. The hospital was dedicated and formally presented to the public with impressive ceremonies, November 30th, 1905, but was not opened till the following December. It was founded and maintained for the benefit of all classes, and is managed by a Board of Trustees, composed of twelve citizens of Piqua, assisted by a Board of Lady Managers. At present it is officered as follows: President, W.P. Orr; vice-president, John H. Young; treasurer, Henry Flesh; secretary, George M. Peffer; superintendent, Elisabeth L. Hatfield. Board of Trustees: Gen.W. P. Orr, John H. Young, Henry Flesh, George H. Rundle, Robert H. Patterson, James R. Duncan. (Life Members): Term expires 1913 - Charles L. Wood, Samuel K. Statler; Terms expire 1911 - Daniel Spencer, George A. Brooks; Term expires 1909 - Samuel Zollinger, Frank Lange, Trustee Ex-Officer - The Mayor of the City of Piqua.

School Libraries - About forty years ago nearly every school had a circulating library, but these were discontinued and now few rural schools possess anything of the kind. The smaller towns of the county depend somewhat for their reading matter on the in adequate bookshelves of the high schools, but outside of Troy and Piqua no regularly officered libraries are in existence. The two exceptions are the outgrowth of earnest work on the part of citizens, especially the ladies, and with little effort similar institutions could be established and kept up in the lesser towns.

Social Clubs--Within the county a large number of social clubs exist. The membership is almost exclusively feminine. The Altrurian Club of Troy is probably the best known of these literary and social organizations. Most of these women's clubs belong to a State Federation, which is under the jurisdiction of the National Federation. The members of these clubs hold weekly meetings, at which literary papers are read and discussed. Some of the papers describe personal travel by the authors, while others discuss a certain era, giving a pen picture of past events and celebrated personages. Of late years the club has become quite popular in the county and there are few progressive women who are not connected with one or more of these organizations. In another chapter will be found some of the organizations conducted by the women of the county.

The Civic League--An attempt was made during 1908 to establish what was called a Civic League, which was to benefit the colored race. The league appeared to meet with some success and its prospects were favorably commented upon, but in a short time the leaven of politics was injected into the organization and disrupted it. Since that time nothing has been heard of the Civic League. It passed out of existence and in all probability will not be revived. There are numerous local societies in the county that do not come within the scope of a work of this kind. These exist within certain neighborhoods and families and comprise in part social organizations which culminate annually in family reunions. All these clubs are officered and the membership of some is large. Almost every well known family now has an organized club and in some cases family histories have been published. Each of the clubs has a historian whose duty it is to gather family data and present the same at the annual gatherings. In this way traditions are collected and preserved and relationship extended. Several of the largest family clubs meet annually at the Miami County Fair grounds.

Regimental Organizations--Apart from the clubs mentioned stand the regimental organizations that embrace the old veterans and their families. These reunions are separate and apart from the department encampments of the Grand Army and Woman's Relief Corps. These regimental reunions are held every year by the several regiments from this county that served in the War of the Rebellion, and the gatherings are most interesting in character. At these reunions the fast disappearing wearers of the Blue live over the camp, the march and the battle. Campfires form a noted feature of these gatherings which will be kept up till the last veteran has answered the roll call and passed beyond to rest, in the shade of the trees.

The Maryland Association of Ohio was organized in Miami County in 1897. It is composed of Marylanders and their descendants residents of Ohio. From a small affair the society has reached statewide proportions and meets annually, though not always within the limits of the county. It has now a membership of 3,000. The present officers of the association are Albert Kerns, president; T.C. Harbaugh, secretary, and S.T. Fout, treasurer. This completes the list of public institutions. societies, etc., which properly come under the head of the present chapter. All Mentioned are flourishing and well conducted and there is not one that is not accredit to the county in which it exists.

End chapter 15
1909 History of Miami County

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