Hamilton: Pages 298 - 301
Next page | Butler County Ohio | Cyclopeadia index page | Previous page


No record has been preserved of the earliest teacher in Hamilton, nor of the school over which he presided. The town had lasted fifteen years before any pedagogue now remembered came upon the scene. Mr. RITCHIE, whose name has not been preserved, came here about the year 1810, and taught upon Front Street, in the third Ward, upon lot No. 174. He afterwards removed to a log house, upon the site of St. Mary's Church. There he continued teaching for several years and being a bachelor, kept his own house. One morning the pupils came at the usual hour, and found him dead. He was a rigid disciplinarian, and did not spare the rod. A school was carried on for some time after his death by another teacher, but the name is forgotten.

In 1812 the Rev. Matthew G. Wallace, who had been preaching occasionally in Hamilton, came to the place to live, and organized a Presbyterian Church. He also opened a school for instruction in the usual English, branches and the classics, in the old court-house. A drawing of the building hangs in the present court-house. The next school was on Second Street, on a part of lot No. 188, where the Benninghofen residence now is. Here, about the year 1815, Benjamin B. PARDEE gave instruction. Very nearly at the same time there was a school in Rossville, near the river, half-way between the present suspension and railroad bridges. It was conducted by Mr. ELDER, and was attended by pupils from both side of the river.

At about the same time Alexander PROUDFIT, who had been classically educated, came to study medicine with Doctor Daniel MILLIKIN, and at the same time to teach. Doctor MILLIKIN built him a school-house on the north side of Heaton Street, between Second and Third Streets on lot No. 203. It was of hewed logs. Doctor MILLIKIN's own children attended, and in course of time many from other families.

In 1818 the Hamilton Literary Society erected, at the south-west corner of Third and Dayton Streets, the first story of a brick building, twenty-two by thirty-six feet, the Masonic fraternity afterwards adding a story for the use of its order. Here taught the Rev. James McMECHAN and Henry BAKER. Joseph BLACKLEACH followed them, remaining for two years, and having seventy or eighty pupils. He died in 1819 or 1820, while on a visit to Oxford. After him came Hugh B. HAWTHORNE.

In 1819 Ellen A. McMECHAN, daughter of Rev. James McMECHAN, who was then dead, opened a school on the north-east corner of Third and Buckeye Streets, lot No. 181, teaching there for one year. Removing from this location, she continued her school on Ludlow Street, near the north-west corner of Third, where she taught for seven years. She had about seventy pupils, of whom Mrs. L.D. CAMPBELL and Mrs. John M. MILLIKIN, and perhaps others, are still alive. She had been thoroughly trained, and to have been in her school was regarded as being itself a compliment. She charged three dollars for each term of five months, teaching five and a half days each week. There were other teachers who did not ask as much.

The Rev. Francis MONFORT taught between the years 1820 and 1822, in a frame house on the corner of Third and High Streets, lot No. 103, being the one now occupied by HUGHES Brothers. He gave instruction in the classics and higher mathematics, besides the ordinary English branches.

Benjamin F. RALEIGH taught from 1825 to 1830. He was township clerk of Fairfield Township for several years, and was township superintendent of common schools. This is the first notice we find of the common school system. He was a large, powerful man, and administered the government of the school with vigor.

GREER, another school teacher, whose place was on lot No. 72, was also a believer in the strong mode of teaching. "From the center of the room where he sat he would reach and remind his scholars with a hickory rod ten feet in length."

The most important school for the instruction of young ladies ever here was originated by John WOODS in 1832. He drew up articles of association for the foundation of seminary, designed to give a more thorough education than was then possible, to be entitled the Hamilton and Rossville Female Academy. Subscriptions to the amount of two thousand five hundred dollars were soon obtained, and the stockholder met and elected John WOODS, the Rev. Doctor David MacDILL, the Rev. Agustus POMEROY, James McBRIDE, and Caleb DeCAMP, directors of the association. Lot No. 247 was purchased, on Water Street, and a school-house erected, being the one now occupied as a city building, and in which the fire recently occurred. This was finished in the year 1834, and n the 7th of March, 1835, a bill was passed by the Legislature incorporating the academy. The bill was drafted by William BEBB, afterwards governor of the state.

Miss Maria DRUMMOND was the first teacher. On the 8th of October, 1835, Miss Georgetta HAVEN took charge of the school at a salary of four hundred dollars a year, but this was afterwards increased to five hundred dollars. Miss Amelia LOOKER and Miss Eliza HUFFMAN were employed as assistants at salaries of four hundred and three hundred dollars respectively. The academy soon became very prosperous, and in the Summer of 1836 there were one hundred and twenty-seven pupils upon the daily roll.

At the close of Miss Haven's administration, which lasted several years, the academy was conducted by Doctor GILES, Mr. BATCHELDER, Mr. MARHCANT, Mr. FURMAN, and others. But the common schools had now gone into operation, and they interfered with the success of the academy. It 1856 it was closed, and the building and site sold. The directors had an idea that the location of the building interfered with it and determined to try a new location, but although twenty-six years have since elapsed, they have not found it. The school had worthily fulfilled its mission, and from its halls many of our best ladies received their instruction.

From an old circular of the academy, in 1841, we take the following names of the young ladies who attended;
Margaret ABBOT, Eliza BEBB, Margaret G. BIGHAM, Rebecca BEATY, Mary D. BUDD, Catharine BRIETENBACH, Sarah E. CRAWFORD, Dorcas COOCH, Mary E. CURTIS, Isaphine CRANE, Sarah A. CONNER, Caroline CORNELL, Susan DANIELS, Lydia A. DUNN, Julia DURROUGH, Mary E. ELMER, Keziah ELLIOTT, Elizabeth HUESTON, Emma INGERSOLL, Sarah JONES, Amanda KLINE, Caroline KEYES, Amanda LOUTHAN, Emma LEFLAR, Marietta McBRIDE, Lydia M. McDILL, Mary McCLEARY, Amanda McDONALD, Ellen M. MATTHIAS, Emily E. MATTHIAS, Elizabeth C. MEYERS, Caroline MILLIKIN, Elizabeth MEREDITH, Sarah MORRIS, Jane PAYNE, Ann PAYNE, Emma PAYNE, Charlotte POTTER, Lucy RIGNON, Ellen RIDNON, Laura RIGNON, Isabella SUTHERLAND, Elizabeth TRABNER, Marcella SMITH, Nancy A. STEARNS, Sarah SINNARD, Angelina SMITH, Dell SCOTT, Martha TRABNER, Mary A. TAYLOR, Catherine TAYLOR, Sophia THOMAS, Martha WOODS, Rebecca WOODS, Rachel WOODS, Caroline M. WILLIAMS, Elizabeth WATKINS, Mary VAN HOOK, Susan VAN HOOK.

Another institution which had considerable celebrity in its day was the Rossville Presbyterian Academy, then under the direction of the Rev. Thomas E. THOMAS. And advertisement of his in 1848 reads:

This Institution, established a year since, under the direction of Oxford Presbytery, may not be regarded as upon a permanent basis. The experiment of the past year has proved entirely successful; more than fifty pupils having been in attendance during that period. The Institution is founded upon the principle of connecting careful religious training with intellectual education. The Bible is studies systematically, and recited daily, by every scholar. Our design is both to prepare young men for College, and to afford a good academical education for those who desire nothing more.

The course of study will embrace Rhetorical Reading, Geography, Grammar, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Ancient and Modern History, particularly that of the Untied States, the Constitution and Government of the United States; Natural History, including Anatomy, Physiology, etc.; the Latin and Greek Languages; Old and New Testament History, the Epistles and Prophecies, Biblical Antiquities, and an abridgment of Horne's Introduction to the study of the Scriptures, together with stated exercises in Declamation and Composition.

Terms per Session, five, seven or ten dollars in proportion to the advancement of the pupils; to be paid invariably in advance.

Boarding may be had, in private families, for one dollar and fifty cent per week.

Thomas E. THOMAS, Principal.
John THOMAS, Assistant.
By order of Presbytery,
Thomas E. THOMAS, Chairman of Committee.
October 2, 1848.

The common school system was inaugurated in 1825, but met with much opposition. From the time it went into effect down to 1851 the schools of what are now the Second, Third, and Fourth Wards were under the control of the school authorities of Fairfield township, and those of the First Ward were under the directors of St. Clair Township. The Second and Third Wards were then School District No. 1, and the Third Ward was District No. 10. It appears from the records that sharp bargains were made with the teachers whenever practicable, and they were frequently engaged by the day.

The First school-building for the use of common schools was erected not far from 1837. In this Mr. BEBB took great interest He suggested the plan, advanced a large portion of the money needed, and devoted much time to the completion of the work. This is now a part of the Third Ward School, on Dayton Street.

April 19, 1851, an election was held in which the electors voted for or against the adoption of the act of February 21, 1849, providing that cities and towns may be formed into one district, to be governed by a board of six directors and three examiners. It was adopted, and the officers chosen soon after took their position. Two of the directors, John W. ERWIN and John W. SOHN are still living in Hamilton. The examiners, Isaac ROBERTSON, Doctor Cyrus FALCONER, and William HUBER, all are alive and in the active practice of their professions. June 21, 1851, the first tax was levied by the board, being one and one-fourth mills on the dollar. June 30th, the township funds were transferred to John W. SOHN, treasurer. In 1852 the schools were classified. In 1853 Mr. J.W. LEGG, of Piqua, was engaged, at a salary of fifty dollars per month. In 1854, after the union of Rossville and Hamilton, Alexander BARTLETT was appointed superintendent of schools, at a salary of eighty dollars per month. The ladies employed as teachers, who this year received twenty-five dollars per month, petitioned for an advance, but it was not granted.

It had been a condition of the union of the two towns that a school-house should be erected in the First Ward, and on the 29th of May, 1856, the board of education adopted a resolution requesting the city council to advance sufficient money to build the house. On the 14th of August the council passed an ordinance appropriating eleven thousand dollars in aid of the work. The building was put up, but its cost far exceeded this amount. In June of this year the pupils were classified. In the 1857 the office of superintendent was separated from the duties of principal of the high school, and G.E. HOWE was chosen superintendent, at a salary of one thousand a year, and on January 12, 1858, S.A. NORTON was placed in charge of the high school, at a salary of eight hundred dollars per year. This was the time at which the First War school-house was completed, the force of teachers having in the meantime been increased from eight, employed in 1854, to seventeen.

In 1861 the schools were under the superintendency of John R. CHAMBERLIN, now of Cincinnati. Doctor W.W. CALDWELL became a member of the board of education in 1859, and was president in 1861. In 1862 he was elected treasurer of the board, holding that office until 1875, making a total of sixteen years' service. The German-English department was organized in 1851, the first teacher being Matthew PFAEFFLIN. The superintendent continued to hear lessons, as a part of his duty, until 1870. Mr. CHAMBERLIN was succeeded by Mr. H.T WHEELER, and he by John A. SHANK, John EDWARDS, and E. BISHOP, the latter retiring in 1871. Little is know about their labors.

The colored school was organized in September, 1853, and was taught in a dilapidated old shanty, situated on the site now occupied by the colored church. In 1867 a building was finally erected, at a cost of two thousand dollars.

In 1871 the public schools passed under the management of Mr. Alston ELLIS, and he was succeeded by Mr. LD. BROWN, the present superintendent, March 1, 1879.

In 1873 it was resolved to build a school-house in the Fourth Ward. At lot had been purchased three years before, a cost of four thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight dollars. The plans and specification of the contract were prepared and approved in June, 1873, and the contract was awarded in July. The house was first occupied in September, 1874, and had ten commodious well ventilated school-rooms, each having a seating capacity for fifty-six pupils, and a large room for general exercises on the third floor. The building is very thoroughly put up, and every thing was done in the best manner. When completed and the bill brought in a very severe criticism was indulged in, on account of the cost, which was much beyond what had been expected. The following are the details:
Main building-- Erection of the building
Lightning rods

Total cost of main building

Janitor's House--
Furniture, stoves, etc--
Grading Lot--

Well and Pump

Erection of the building
School-desks, stoves and Other furniture
Putting up fence and painting the same
Filling up and grading school-lot,
Negotiating bonds issued by the Board of education

Issued in bonds

There are now in Hamilton five school-buildings, one for each of the first four wards, and one for the colored schools. The Fifth Ward, being lately organized, has no school-house. School is taught 200 days in the year, 2008 children being enrolled, with a supposed number of a thousand children in the private and parochial schools. There were 5,058 children of school age, showing that two thousand do not attend school anywhere. The valuation of school property in the district is $5,600,525, on which the tax levied is five mills on the dollar. The school property is valued at $125,000. Thirty-six teachers are employed, 13 of whom are in the German-English department, and one in music. The average pay of teachers per year was $540. There were 51 teachers in the public schools. On the whole, the schools seem to be conducted in a very satisfactory manner.


On the 19th of December, 1817, the Legislature of the State of Ohio passed a law incorporating the Bank of Hamilton, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars.

In the Spring of 1818 books for the subscription of stock opened, and an amount sufficient to authorize the bank to go into operation being subscribed, an election for directors was held. On the 11th of July, 1818, the board of directors elected met for the first time, and appointed John REILY president and William BLAIR cashier of the bank. Bank notes having been engraved and prepared for circulation, the directors met on the 30th of July, made their first discounts, and the bank went into operation. The bank was kept north of the Public Square, immediately opposite the court-house, in the front room of Dr. Jacob HITTEL's brick house, then owned by William BLAIR.

The capital stock paid into the bank was $33,062.68, on which they continued to discount and do a small but respectable business for several years. In the Fall of the year 1818, the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States required all payments due the United States be made in gold or silver or bills of which the banks of the State of Ohio, and the banks in the West generally, suspended specie payments about the 1st of November. The Bank of Hamilton, suspended specie payments on the 9th of November 1818.

In May, 1819, the Farmer's and Mechanics' Bank of Cincinnati, by an agreement with the treasury department, became a depository of the public moneys, on which they resumed specie payments. Under these circumstances application was made to the Bank of Hamilton on the 27th of May, 1819 by their agent, Nicholas LONGWORTH, for a loan of $10,000 in specie, in order to enable them to sustain themselves and carry out their agreement with the treasury department. This, it was represented, they were abundantly able to do, as they were to have a permanent deposit from the government of $100,000 which, it was stated, exceeded the amount of their paper in circulation, consequently they could only be pressed for a short period, the specie to be returned at any time, on a moment's warning, and not to be affected by any amount of the notes of the Bank of Hamilton which they might have in hand at the time. It was also proposed to make the notes of the Bank of Hamilton receivable in the land office, if desired, on terms that would be mutually satisfactory, and on the general resumption of specie payments they proposed to reciprocate the accommodation in any way that might be most advantageous for the Bank of Hamilton. The proposition was acceded to by the directors of the Bank of Hamilton, and the sum of $10,000 in silver paid over to the Farmers' and Mechanics Bank on the 15th of June, 1819. A few weeks afterwards the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank suspended specie payments and closed their doors. A correspondence was commenced with the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank on the subject of the loan which they were unable to return or secure. Finally, in May, 1820 a deed was made by the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank to the Bank of Hamilton, for their banking house and lot, being the three-fourths-parts of lot No. 103, on Main Street, between Front and Columbia Streets, in the Cincinnati, which was accepted in full for the loan of $10,000, including interest.

The property was taken possession of by the Bank of Hamilton and rented to John & Gurden B. GILMORE, for a broker's office and residence. In December, 1824, a writ of ejectment, issued from the Circuit Court of the United States for the district of Ohio, in favor of the heirs of Israel LUDLOW , deceased, was served on the tenant of the Bank of Hamilton for the recovery of the house conveyed to him by the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank on the ground that the lost had been illegally sold by the administrators of Israel LUDLOW after his death. At the January term of the Circuit Court in 1827 a judgment was rendered in favor of the heirs of LUDLOW against the Bank of Hamilton, which the Bank of Hamilton took up a writ of error to the Supreme Court of United States at Washington. When the cause came on for hearing at Washington the judgment of the court below was affirmed, which rendered the title of the Bank of Hamilton void.

The property conveyed by the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank being thus lost to the Bank of Hamilton, and the Farmers' and Mechanics' bank unable to make good their warranty, the whole appeared in a manner lost. However, on examination, it was found that the property had been conveyed to the Farmers' and Mechanics' bank by John McINTYRE, by deed of general warranty dated the 31st of May, 1815. John McINTYRE lived in Madison, Indiana, and was perfectly solvent. The agent of the bank accordingly called on him on the 29th of October, 1819, when John McINTYRE agreed to pay to the Bank of Hamilton, the sum of $2,000, which was accepted, and Mr. McINTYRE released from his warranty on the payment of the money, and the agreement was afterwards complied with.

The bank was crippled severely, and its transactions were virtually wound up. From 1824 till 1835 the stockholders did nothing more than to elect directors to keep the bank alive. In the latter year $50,000 additional shares were subscribed, and it again went into operation. After a few years, however, the pressure of the times compelled them to close, and they finally shut their doors on the 9th of February, 1842, when an assignment was made.