By the constitution of 1851, the office of the clerks of the courts was made
elective by the voters of the county, to hold their office for the term of
three years. The following are the names of the persons elected to that
office since that time:
Michael C. RYAN, 1852 to 1858; John MCELWEE, 1858 to to 1864; Edward DALTON, 1864 to 1866, Patrick GORDON, 1866 to 1873; Jervis HARGITT, 1873 to 1879; Barton S. JAMES, 1879 to 1880; W. S. CALDWELL, 1880 to 1881; R. B. MILLIKIN, 1881.
Joseph F. RANDOLPH, 1803-1811; Hugh B. HAWTHORN, 1811 to 1812; Hugh WILSON, 1812 to 1827; Charles K. SMITH, 1827 to 1828.
On the 24th of January, 1827, the Legislature passed a law making the office elective by the people, to serve for the term of two years.
Charles K. SMITH, 1827 to 1835; William HUNTER, 1836 to 1844; Richard EASTON, 1844 to 1848.
Richard EASTON committed suicide on the morning of the 4th of June, 1848, by shooting himself in the head with a pistol ball, in his bed at the United States Hotel, in Cincinnati. When the door of his room was opened he was found dead, and the pistol lying beside him. A committee appointed by the Court of Common Pleas to examine the condition of the treasury reported a defalcation of about eight thousand dollars. However, on the prosecution of a sujhit against his securities, various credits and offsets were allowed, which reduced the judgment which was rendered at July term, 1855, to $552.44
Robert MILLIKIN was appointed June 7, 1848; Henry TRABER, 1850 to 1853.
About the 1st of July, 1853, it was discovered that Henry TRABER was a defaulter in his office to the amount of about seven thousand dollars, and on the 16th of that month he resigned. Suit was commenced against his securities, and at the September term of the Court of Common Pleas, 1855, judgment was obtained against them for $6,991.84, which was promptly paid.
Franklin STOKES was appointed July 16, 1853; John W. SNYDER, 1854 to 1858; Elias H. GASTON, 1848 TO 1862; Nathan G. OGLESBY, 1862 to 1864; David W. BRANT, 1864 to 1868; John C. LINDLEY, 1868 to 1870; Sheldon A. CAMPBELL, March 1870 to September 1870; John C. LINDLEY, September 1870 to 1872; David YEAKLE, 1872 to 1876; Hugh H. JONES, 1876 to 1880; William B. OGLESBY, 1880 till 1882. James T. GRAY 1882.
On the eighth day of February, 1820, a law was passed directing the appointment of county auditors, and in pursuance of that act the Legislature, on the second day of February, 1821, by resolution, appointed John MCCLURE, Jr., auditors of Butler County; and by a law passed on the same day, the auditor was, by virtue of his office required to be clerk of the commissioners. The Legislature passed a law, dated February 23, 1824, making the office of auditor elective by the people. The auditor holds his office for the term of two years.
John MCCLURE, 1821 to 1831 (died February 22, 1831); James O'CONNER, appointed, 1831 to 1832; James B. CAMERON, elected, 1832 to 1843 (died 3rd September, 1843); James B. CAMERON, Jr., appointed, 1843 to 1844; Ludwick BETZ, elected, 1844 to 1847 (died); Alfred THOMAS, appointed, 1847 to 1848; Franklin STOKES, 1848 to 1850; Wilson H. LAYMAN, 1850 to 1852; William S. PHARES, 1852 to 1858; James DAUGHETRY, 1858 to 1860; Henry H. WALLACE, 1860-1862; William C. HUNTER, 1862 to 1866; Sheldon A. CAMPBELL, 1866 to 1870; Adolph SCHMIDT, March, 1870, to February, 1874. Henry H. WALLACE, 1874 to 1876; S. B. BERRY, 1876 to 1881; Joseph B. HUGHES, 1881.
By the constitution of 1851, the offices of associate judges were terminated, and the office discontinued, after the second Tuesday in February, (February 9th) 1852.
Ezekiel BALL, 1804; James BLACKBURN, 1805, Matthew RICHARDSON, 1806; James SMITH, 1807; James BLACKBURN, 1808; William ROBESON, 1809; John WINTON , 1810; James BLACKBURN, 1811; William ROBESON, 1812; Matthew RICHARDSON, 1813; Joseph HOUGH, 1814; Joseph HENDERSON, 1815; William Robeson, 1816; Thomas BLAIR, 1817; William ROBESON, 1818; Joseph HENDERSON, 1819; Thomas BLAIR, 1820; John KNOX, 1821; William KERRY, 1822; Dennis BALL, 1823 (resigned, and moved from the county); John KNOX, 1824; Joel KENNEDY, 1825; John CRANE, 1825; Matthew HUESTON, 1826; Matthew HUESTON, 1827; John K. WILSON, 1828; Joel KENNEDY, 1829; James COMSTOCK, 1830; Matthew HUESTON, 1831; William B. VANHOOK, 1832; Joel KENNEDY, 1833; Matthew HUESTON, 1834; Edward ROCKHILL, 1834; Edward ROCKHILL, 1835; Thomas BLAIR, 1836; Isaac MCKINNEY, 1837; Jacob OGLE, 1838; John MCCLOSKEY, 1839; John TRABER, 1840; Isaac MCKINNEY, 1840; Jonathan PIERSON 1841; Isaac MCKINNEY, 1844; John W. ERWIN, 1845; John TRABER, 1846; John WEAVER, 1847; William HUNTER, 1848; John W. SOHN, 1849; John WEAVER, 1850; Christopher HUGHES, 1851; Jacob MATHIAS, 1852; Christopher HUGHES, 1851; Jacob MATHIAS, 1852; John M. COX, 1853; John WAKEFIELD, 1854; James GIFFIN, 1855; J. J. OWENS, 1857; James LINE, 1870; George B. TOBIAS, 1871; W. W. CALDWELL, 1872; S. M. LONG, 1873; David SAMPLE, 1874; John WEIDENBORNER, 1875; Thomas SLADE, 1879; Eli LONG, 1880; A.G. MCKEON, 1881.
On the 29th of January, 1833, the Legislature passed a law making the office elective by the people, and making the term of office two years. It has lately been made three years. Jessie CORWIN, 1833 to 1835; John B. WELLER, 1835 to 1839; Elijah VANCE, 1839 5o 1843; John WOODS, appointed by the court, 1843, one term; Thomas MILLIKIN, appointed by the court, 1843, one term; Oliver S. WITHERBY, 1844 to 1848; M. C. RYAN, 1848 to 1852; Isaac ROBERTSON, 1852 to 1856; Z. W. SELBY, 1856 to 1860; F. VANDERVEER, 1860 to 1862; S. Z. GARD, 1871 to 1872; H. L. MOREY, 1872 to 1874; J. L. VALLANDIGHAM, 1874 to 1876; James E. CAMPBELL, 1876 to 1880; John F. NEILAN, 1880 to 1885.
The Miami, it is well known, is subject to great fluctuations in its quantity of water. Some seasons it is very low. Boys can wade across it at these times almost anywhere. At other times it is full, up even to its banks, and, where those banks are low overflows the country. It has wrought, at different times, great devastation in this way, and frequently, in these rises, changes its course more or less. Where it meandered previously, it makes a direct cut across, and where it once went in a straight channel, it is deserted for a more tortuous one. The soil on either side is entirely alluvial, and affords no permanent obstacle. Indeed, the whole valley, for a mile or two back, displays evidences of having been the bed of the river at some remote period.
The earliest of the great freshets or inundations which have been recorded was in the year 1805. At this time the whole of the Miami River rolled in the bed now called Old River, and ran in a deep channel along the eastern bank, on the side next Hamilton, and where the present sand-bar appears below the bridge. Four-mile Creek then empties into the river on the west, a short distance above the upper part of the town, where the mouth of New River now is. The occasion of the change in the channel of the river was owing to the erection of certain water-works on Four-mile Creek.
In the years 1803 and 1804 Messrs. James SMITH and Arthur ST.CLAIR (son of General ST.CLAIR) erected a mill at the bend of Four-mile Creek, about a mile an a half above its mouth, and dug a race from the Miami River to bring the water from the river to their mills, in order to supply an additional quantity of water when the creek should be low. In the month of March, 1805, an extraordinary flood occurred in the Miami River, which tore away the head gates of their race, and let the water of the river have a free passage to their mills, and thence down the channel of Four-mile Creek. This flood wholly destroyed their mills, and carried their works down the current, after which time the channel continued to widen and deepen, until, in a few years, at ordinary stages of the river, the whole of the water passed by that channel, which acquired the name of New River. The river was at its highest on the 10th of March. The island formed between this channel and that of Old River contains abut three hundred and fifty acres, and was formerly owned by Dr. Daniel MILLIKIN, but now by L. D. CAMPBELL. The Hamilton and Rossville Hydraulic Company have constructed two dams across the old channel of the river, and formed a grand reservoir, about a mile long, to retain water for the supply of their mills and factories in Hamilton.
This flood in the Miami River was the greatest ever known since the first settlement of the country, and was long remembered by the inhabitants resident there at the time, and with them formed an epoch in the history of the country.
In speaking of events, it was long afterward customary to designate the time time by stating that it was so many years before or after the "great flood."
The whole of what is now called the island and all the low bottoms along the Miami river were entirely inundated, and much damage done to persons residing in the river bottoms. The water of the river backed up on the low ground above Hamilton, inundating Bigham's bottoms, and flowing out, passed ober the out-lots (where the east branch of the Hydraulic Canal has been constructed), inundated the lower part of the town, to the depth of several feet, and discharged into the river above where the bridge now is. The water in Front Street, between Stable and Dayton Streets, was deep enough to come mid-side of a horse, and in some place would swim a horse.
Previous to this flood, a grove of sycamore and cottonwood trees lined the bank of the river, on the eastern side, from where the bridge now stands to the upper part of the town. They were all washed up, destroyed, and carried away by the force of the current. Cedar bushes then grew indigenous along the river bank from Buckeye Street to the upper part of the town, and a few straggling bushes remained growing in 1809.
The ground where the sycamore grove was, near the Columbra Bridge, extending up some distance on the present sand-bar, was then a fertile field, which had been for many years cultivated in corn, having a house standing upon it. The flood swept over the whole, carrying away the house and the alluvial soil, and when the water subsided nothing appeared but a naked beach of gravel.
The bridge between Hamilton and Rossville had long been felt to be a necessity. At the times when the river was very full, no communication existed between the east and west banks of the river, and in ordinary stages the charges for ferriage were high. The Legislature passed an act, in the year 1816, incorporating Joseph HOUGH, John SUTHERLAND, Joseph, WILSON, John HALL, Samuel DICK, Isaac, FALCONER, Samuel MILLIKIN, Thomas C, Kelsey, William MURRAY, Pierson SAYRE, Robert TAYLOR, Willaim RIDDLE, Thomas BLAIR, William BLAIR, and Michael DELORAC into a company to erect and build a bridge across the Great Miami River, between the town of Hamilton and Rossville, in the county of Butler. The style of the orperation was to be the "Miami Bridge Company."
Under this act stock was subscribed, and on the twenty-third day of March, 1818, a contract was made and entered into by the directors of the company with Nathan S. HUNT, for the erection and completion of the bridge. However, in September, 1819, Mr. HUNT died, before the work was ended, but it was afterward finished by William DANIELS. The whole length of the bridge, exclusive of the wing-walls, was three hundred and sixty feet. The superstructure was composed of two arches resting on two abutments, on each side, and one pier in the middle of the river, the chord-line of each are being one hundred and sixty-five feet and six inches, and the rise from the chord to the apex being twenty-two feet. It cost $25,194.84. The venture proved a highly profitable one, and although there was, from time to time, grumbling in the public journals respecting its charge or its management, yet no other bridge was for many years erected, either in Hamilton or elsewhere in this county.
The stockholders in the Miami Bridge Company, in the year 1824, were Adam ANDREW, Joseph S. BENHAM, Miss Loretto M. BRENAN, James BROWN, the Commissioners of Butler County, John CLARK, Edward CORNTHWAITE, Samuel DAVIS, Samuel DICK, George DICK, William S. HATCH, Matthew HUESTON, Robert IRWIN, John C. KIBBY, Squier LITTELL, Andrew LEWIS, James MCBRIDE, Andrew McCleary, David MCMECHAN, William MCMECHAN, Tobias MILLER, Robert B. MILLIKIN, John RAINEY, John REILY, Elizabeth RHEA, John E. SCOTT, Robert SCOTT, John SLACK, Abel SLAYBACK, Joseph SMITH, Oliver SMITH, John SUTHERLAND, William TAYLOR, John Henry TRABER, William WALLACE, Joseph WILSON, John WINTON, Michael YEAKLE, and James YOUNG.
The navigation of the Miami was , in the beginning, regarded as good as that of any other stream in the State excepting the Ohio, and not far behind that. There were obstacles, however, which could easily have been abated Here and there was a sand-bar or a shallow channel, and he various dams were not always constructed in the best manner. By a small expenditure of money the river could be much improved.. In one of the newspapers of 1824 appeared the following
"At a meeting of the citizens of Dayton and the neighborhood, convened on the 24th ult. We were appointed a committee to address the citizens of the Miami country on the subject of the navigation of the Great Miami River.
"We consider the navigation of the Great Miami River of the utmost interest to the inhabitants of this district of country (on this subject we conceive there can be no difference of opinion), and as we consider you to be acquainted with the difficulties and obstructions as well as the advantages to be derived from a free navigation of the river, we shall be brief.
"It is generally know that the navigation of the Miami River was very little inferior to that of the Ohio, previous to the dams being placed in it. By the compact between the State of Ohio and general government,` said river was declared to be and remains a public highway; that the Legislature have, from time to time enacted laws respecting the navigation of the said river, none of which have been complied with, and the time granted for placing locks in the river has long since expired, and the obstructions still remain.
"We are confident that a moderate expense will be sufficient to open and deepen the channel, so as to admit steamboats of reasonable drafts and burthen, to navigate the river for the greater part of the year, provided that some method be adopted by which they may pass the mill-dams in safety, or those obstructions removed. This, we are confident, can be effected by placing locks in the sides of the dams or river bank, through which boats may ascend or descend. By this means the produce of Miami country maybe conveyed to any place on the Ohio River by steamboats in safety and a trifling expense while merchandise may be brought up the Miami from either Pittsburg, Wheeling, Louisville, or cincinnati for about the same.
"Believing the navigation my be effected, that it is important, and will be of great benefit to the country, we earnestly solicit your assistance and co-operation with us in effecting so desirable an object. We would further take the liberty to request you to make this public in your neighborhood, and obtain the sense of the people on it, by a public meeting or otherwise, and a correspondence with us.
"C. R. GREEN, ( ( Committee G. S. HOUSTON ( "Dayton, May 1, 1824."
Nothing came of this appeal. The State of Ohio soon after began the construction of the Miami Canal, and after that went into operation there was no longer any reason for the improvement of the river. But until 1833, or thereabouts, boats descended the stream and carried the produce of this country to Louisville, St. Louis and New Orleans. The voyages were long, and at the end the boats were sold of broken up, and the owner or captains returned overland. It was necessary to send the boats while the water was high, and this generally occurred in the Spring of the year.
In 1823 the Spring shipments were as follows: Flour, 6,495 barrels, at $3.25 each; pork, 1,424 carrels, at $6 each; whisky, 945 barrels, at 22 cents per gallon.; cucumbers and pickles, 50 barrels, at $4. each; corn meal, 600 barrels, at $1.50 each; beans, 28 barrels, at $2.50 each; crout, 15 bushels, $4 each; lard, 950 kegs of 60 pounds each, at 4 cents per pound; corn in ears, 7,000 bushels, at 12 ½ cents per bushel; potatoes, 1,400 bushels, at 25 cents per bushel; chickens, 200 dozens at 75 cents per dozen; cherry lumber, 30,000 feet, at $12 per M; butter, 80 kegs, of 50 pounds each, at 8 cents per pound.
Seventy-nine boats, chiefly flat-bottomed descended the Miami, and passed under the bridge, for the New Orleans market, from January to June 1823, with flour, whisky. Lumbers, etc., averaging 300 barrels, at $5 per barrel or $118.000.
Sixty-six hundred hogs passed over the bridge at Hamilton, from October, 1822, to January 1823, averaging 200 pounds, at $5.
A great part of the flour and whisky from Butler County was transported in wagons to Cincinnati, then shipped to New Orleans, probably as much as descended the Miami.
In the earlier years of the century, a rise of the river was annual, or even oftener, and boats would lie for months waiting their opportunity. In 1847 there was an overflow between Christmas and New-Year's. The rain had fallen steadily for more than a week, and the ground was completely saturated. The STRAUB House was inundated, and the landlord, Peter SHURZ, was compelled to move his valuables up stairs. Robert HOWARD had just bought the iron store lately occupied by Daniel SHAFER. It had a large and capacious cellar, and in it had been placed, by David YEAKLE (a cooper living in a little west of town), tow or three hundred whisky barrels, to be kept there until prices raised. When the water began to rise, it naturally filled the cellar, and the barrels, which were good sound specimens of the cooper's art, were soon afloat, and began striking the ceiling. Those on the main floor heard a mysterious thumping, but were unable to account for it. Presently there was a crash, the floor heaved upward, the hardware tumbled down and the stove capsized, sending up a great cloud of steam. Only on person was in the store at the time who was overthrown with the rest. He gathered himself up and fled.
The water extended up to Main Street as far as LAUBACK'S shoe store, then a dry-goods store, kept by James and William TRABER. A boat was rowed to the the post in front, by James TRABER, and was there hitched. On the west bank of the river, where the tan-yard now is, was, at that time a stable belong to Andrew MCCLEARY. This was washed away and it its descent struck the abutment of the old bridge, tearing out a considerable portion.
In September, 1866 there was a remarkable freshet. Great damage was done to all the surrounding country, and railroad travel was interrupted for a long time. Upon the island, just east of the Globe Flour Mills stood a very large sycamore tree. It is a peculiarity of the floods of the West that they wash out the earth from beneath a tree while it is still standing, and finally when there is no support, cause its fall. It was so in this case. The mighty tree stood looking over the flood until its equilibrium could no longer be maintained, when it fell, and began rapidly floating down the river. Projecting from the main trunk was a huge snag, which sometimes showed above the water, and at other times was buried. Experienced observers saw the danger which it might occasion, and warned persons on foot or in carriages from crossing. Colonel MOORE distinguished himself in this respect. Jessie HAVENS, the express driver was passing through the bridge at the time, with his two boys. Pushing the children ahead, he urged them to get out, and hurried on as fast as he could himself. He found himself unable to get out in time, and stopped turning around to witness the catastrophe. Just before the tree reached the bridge, above and west of the middle pier, it disappeared. But not for a great while were the people in suspense. The snag came crushing up through the timbers and planking, destroying every thing it touched, and then quietly floated down stream. It narrowly escaped striking the railroad bridge, which would also have been destroyed. The remainder of the bridge was carried away at about half-past ten the same evening.
Near the east end of the new bridge may be seen the stone set up by the contractors of the old bridge. It reads as follows:
MIAMI BRIDGE COMPANY,
Chartered A. D. 1816.
Bridge erected in 1818 and 1819.
John RILEY, President; James MCBRIDE, Secretary;
Joseph HOUGH, John SUTHERLAND, Samuel DICK
Thomas BLAIR, and John HALL
Nathan S. HUNT, Contractor; William DANIEL,
Mechanic; James MCBRIDE, Architect