In the year 1826 and 1827 that portion of the Miami Canal between Cincinnati and the Miami fields above Middletown were constructed, passing on the east side of the town of Hamilton at the distance of nearly a mile from the Miami river, and about half a mile from inlots of the town. On the first day of July, 1827, the water was let into the Miami canal by the feeder, two miles above Middletown. The first boat on it was built at Middletown by Robert L. CAMPBELL, and called the Samuel Forrer. On the fourth day of July, the water having reached Middletown, the canal-boat made several trips from Middletown to the canal feeder. The canal filled slowly, so that it took more than a month before the water reached Hamilton. In August the canal-boat Samuel Forrer came down to Hamilton, and remained some time, making trips with ladies and gentlemen for pleasure to Middletown and to the neighborhood of the big pond below Hamilton.
In December, 1827, the citizens of Hamilton and Rossville had a public meeting at the court-house in Hamilton, at which they passed resolutions setting forth their grievances in consequence of the location and construction of the Miami Canal, and appointed Robert B. MILLIKIN, John REILY, and Thomas BLAIR their agents to memorialize the board of canal commissioners on the subject of a lateral canal from the main canal to the town of Hamilton was made by Jesse L. WILLIAMS, an engineer on the Miami Canal, and now living at a good old age in Fort Wayne, which was forwarded to the board of canal commissioners, together with a memorial by the agents on behalf of the citizens, praying that the board would, on behalf of the State of Ohio, make a location of a lateral canal and basin at Hamilton, and grant the citizens the privilege of its construction, and give them such pecuniary aid as they might deem proper. Jesse CORWIN was appointed by the citizens to proceed to Columbus and lay the memorial before the board of canal commissioners, and represent the case as well to the board as to the Legislature. Dr. Daniel MILLIKIN was afterwards associated with him to second in his efforts.
On the presentation of this memorial, the land of canal commissioners, at a meeting held at Columbus, on the fifteenth day of January, 1828, passed the following resolution:
"Resolved, That in the event of the General Assembly granting to the board of canal commissioners the authority to lay out and construct side cuts, or lateral canals, as suggested in the last report of the board, the acting commissioner be authorized to lay out and establish a die cut from the Miami Canal to the town of Hamilton, and upon the construction of it by the inhabitants of said town, in the manner he shall prescribe, to pay towards the cost of the same to the persons properly authorized to receive it, a sum not exceeding two thousand dollars."
In compliance with the request of the citizens of Hamilton, the Legislature of the State of Ohio, on the eleventh day of February, 1828, passed a law authorizing the canal commissioners "to construct, or permit to be constructed, a navigable communication between the Miami canal and the town of Hamilton, in the county of Butler, and if they should deem it inexpedient to construct such communication at the expense of the State, they may permit it to be done at the expense of individuals desiring such communication under such regulations and restrictions as will secure the interest of the State."
On the passage of this law subscription papers were immediately put into circulation, and a sum deemed sufficient to complete the work was soon subscribed. When this was accomplished, on the application of the citizens, Micajah T. WILLIAMS, acting canal commissioner on the Miami line, on the thirty-first day of March, 1828, entered into a contract with Andrew McCLEARY, of Rossville, to construct the basin at seven and three-fourths cents per cubic yard for embankment.
The length of the Hamilton side cut, or basin, from the main canal was fifty-three chains and sixty-two links. The natural surface of the ground on which the basin was constructed being some four or five feet lower than the bottom of the main canal, it was laid out of such a width as to admit of the earth and gravel being taken from the center to construct the banks. The basin was one hundred and twenty feet wide at the bottom, and one hundred and forty-eight feet wide at the surface of the water, having an average depth of about eighteen feet. On each side was a towing path eight feet wide, which, with the slope of the banks, made the whole width occupied by the basin from the outside base of one bank to the outside base of the other bank about two hundred and six feet. The surface of the water in the basin being about five feet above the general level of the town, it presented a beautiful appearance.
Mr. McCLEARY, the contractor, commenced the work immediately on his closing the contract, and prosecuted it with vigor, so that the whole was completed by the 13th of December, 1828, and the water let into the basin a few days afterwards. The bottom of the basin being a very loose gravel and the banks also gravel, it required a considerable length of time to fill it and some care to prevent the banks from giving way. The water leaked through the banks and at the bottom, rising up in High Street and the low ground on the north, so as to overflow to the depth of three or four feet in the street in the front of Mrs. CALDWELL's residence, doing considerable damage to property in that part of the town, until a drain was dug down Basin Street to convey the water to the river. The leakage continued for several months. Mr. McCLEARY paid at that time for a man and two horses and a scraper only seventy-five cents per day, and notwithstanding the cheap labor, he lost over one thousand and five hundred dollars. The whole cost of constructing the Hamilton amounted to the following sum:
For 80,413 cubic yards o f embankment, at 7 ¾ cent per yard $6,232.00 For grubbing, safety-gate, bridges, and other work, 575.52 For puddling, securing safety-gate, digging ditch to drain water to the river, and other expenses necessarily incident to the construction of 695.50 the work $7,503.02
Two thousand dollars of which was paid by the State of Ohio and the remaining sum by the citizens of Hamilton and Rossville.
An office for the collection of tolls was established at the east end of the Hamilton basin, on the main line of the canal, in March, 1828, and Pierson SAYRE appointed collector, with a salary of two hundred dollars per year. He then lived in East Hamilton, and continued in office until the first of April, 1830, when he resigned, and William BLAIR was appointed in his room, with a salary of three hundred dollars per year.
In March, 1832, the office was removed to the west end of the basin. On the first day of March, 1832, William BLAIR resigned the office and Robert HARPER was appointed in his stead, who served until the first day of March, 1836, when he resigned, and John CRANE was appointed, who continued in office to 1844. On the 27th of January, 1844, the Legislature passed a law declaring that the collectors of canal tolls should be entitled to receive such compensation as shall be allowed by the board of public works, not exceeding two-thirds of the amount now allowed. The salary of the collector of Hamilton was reduced to two hundred dollars per year.
The following persons succeeded Mr. CRANE: William C. HOWELLS, Daniel SKINNER, James GEORGE, and James DOUGHERTY.
The following is the list of the original subscribers:
Isaac ANDERSON $10.00 A.P. ANDREWS 10.00 Jonas BALL 3.00 John BEACH 10.00 Thomas BLAIR 100.00 James BOAL 100.00 William BLAIR 50.00 Geo. P. BELL 25.00 Thomas BURNS 25.00 C. & H. BOWERS 20.00 Russel BURROWS 10.00 Jas. BROADBERRY 4.00 Geo. BURNAP 5.00 Jacob BURNET 51.00 Morris CRANE 25.00 Samuel S. COLE 75.00 M. & A. CONNER 25.00 Est. of CALDWELL 50.00 David CLARK 5.00 Jas. B. CAMERON 15.00 Jesse CORWIN 25.00 O. S. CALDWELL 10.00 David CONNER 5.00 Samuel DICK, Jr. 10.00 Caleb DeCAMP 25.00 John C.DUNLEVY 25.00 Nicholas DAVIS 15.00 William DANIELS 150.00 Samuel DICK 30.00 Richard EASTON 5.00 H. S. EARHART & Co. 10.00 Wm J.ELDER & Co. 10.00 Thos. ENYEART 5.00 David K. ESTE 44.00 Isaac FALCONER 10.00 Daniel FLENNER 150.00 Thomas FAWCETT 5.00 Isaac FISHER 5.00 Jacob FLICKINGER 5.00 John D. GARRISON 100.00 Israel GREGG 5.00 HUNTER & NUTT 10.00 Peter HELWIG 1.00 John HUNTER 5.00 Robt. J. HOWARD 20.00 Isaac HOWE 10.00 Robert HEWES 5.00 Matth. HUESTON 10.00 Henry JACOBY 5.00 William JONES 10.00 John JOHNSTON 5.00 Aaron JEWELL 50.00 Robt. JONES and John EICHELBERGER 75.00 Joel KENNEDY 50.00 Wm. A. KRUG 10.00 Thos. KENWORTHY 15.00 John LINE 10.00 Joseph LASHHORN 20.00 Joseph LANDIS 100.00 Philip LANDIS 5.00 Jas. C. LUDLOW 40.00 William MOORE 100.00 Robert. B. MILLIKIN 50.00 Andrew McCLEARY 25.00 Stafford MORGAN 10.00 David MacDILL 10.00 John McKEEN 15.00 Benjamin MOSES 10.00 James McBRIDE 100.00 Dav. McMEHCAN 5.00 Dan. MILLIKIN 100.00 John McCLURE 5.00 Robert MARTIN 10.00 Thos. & Wm. McMILLEN 10.00 Sam. MILLIKIN 10.00 Jos. McMECHAN 10.00 Phil McGONIGAL 5.00 Sam. McCLURE 10.00 Thomas MELONE 3.00 John MOOREHEAD 10.00 Azur R. MILLS 5.00 Jas. O'CONNOR 25.00 Isaac OVERPECK 1.50 Isaac PAXTON 10.00 Isaac POINER 10.00 Thos. PETERKIN 5.00 Jonath. PIERSON 15.00 John REILY 500.00 Loammi RIGDON 25.00 John RINEHART 5.00 John L. RITTER 1.00 Jacob SANDOE 5.00 Morris SEELY 10.00 Wm. H. SPALDING 5.00 Lawrence SMITH 5.00 Silas SMITH 350.00 Thos. SINNARD 25.00 Chas. K. SMITH 25.00 Oliver STEVENS 25.00 John SUTHERLAND, in cloth 100.00 Chas. SNIDER 5.00 Jasper SNYDER 5.00 Samuel SCOTT 10.00 William TAYLOR 25.00 John TRABER 25.00 Thomas M. THOMAS 25.00 Benj. VANGORDEN 5.00 Edward VICKROY 3.00 Geo. VANDEGRIFF 20.00 Wm. B. VAN HOOK 100.00 I.P. VANHAGAN 5.00 Hiram WRIGHT 10.00 Samuel P. WITHROW 5.00 Hugh WILSON 100.00 John WINTON 200.00 John WOODS 100.00 Charles WALKER 10.00 Isaac WILES 8.00 Isaac WATSON 5.00 Michael YEAKLE 8.00
The basin did a very useful work for many years, and it was a mistake to have done away with it so soon. Undoubtedly the canal, of which it was a branch, will some day, not far in the future, also be disued and filled up. But that time has not yet arrived, nor in our judgment had it arrived for the basin in 1877. There were many complaints of disease said to have originated from it exhalations, and it did comparatively little business. The business men, as a rule, opposed its removal, but the question was submitted to the people of the city, and they voted against retaining it.
An act was passed by the General Assembly, April 27, 1872, for cutting it off, which provided that the measure should be approved by two-thirds of the voters of the city; that the city council should procure the written consent of the lessees of the public works to the cutting off, and obtain a release from them of all claims for damages from the State; the city of Hamilton to be liable for all damages to property occasioned by the filling up. To ascertain what these damages might be council was required to give thirty days' notice of its intentions to cut off, and within thirty days afterwards persons claiming damages were required to present to council a written application clearly setting for the ground on which damages were claimed, and the amount.
On the application of council, the judge of the Court of Common Pleas was to appoint three commissioners, who should have authority to examine witnesses under oath, to audit the claims for damages, and within one month after their appointment, make a report to council of the amount of damages, if any, awarded.
Under the requirements of this law, an elections was held on Tuesday, may 18, 1875, with the following result:
FOR CUTTING OFF Yes No First Ward 183 218 Second Ward 385 84 Third Ward 522 84 Fourth War 426 16 Total 1,516 402 Total vote 1,918 Majority for cutting off 1,114Or more than two-thirds in favor of cutting off.
The lessees of the public works withholding their written consent to the proposed cutting off, Mr. NEAL, at the next session of the Legislature, introduced a supplemental bill to remedy this defect.
About 9 o'clock Tuesday night, June 19, 1877, a force of a hundred men appeared at the neck of the basin with wheelbarrows, picks, shovels, etc., and proceeded to fill up the basin at that point. The men were divided into squads and thoroughly organized, as if they had prepared themselves for the work some time before. At the meeting of council, the night before, the matter of cutting off the basin was laid over indefinitely. This was done in order to mislead those who were opposed to it. If any time for filling had been fixed the opposition would have been ready with injunctions to stop the work, and might probably have delayed it for months. As soon as filling up the neck was commenced, a report that the work was in progress spread like wild-fire throughout the city, and it was not many minutes before a crowd of two thousand people was collected on the basin banks. The men worked well, and a little after 12 o'clock the job was completed.
It is said that some of the men opposed to the cutting off made an effort to procure an injunction, but the judges of both the Common Pleas and Probate Courts were out of town.
The citizens generally were pleased, and in a short time the excavation was filled up. The expectations of those who favored its removal have not been realized; fevers still exist in Hamilton, and the land is entirely waste.
Mr. WEBSTER was identified with the press of Butler County for a long time. From about the year 1828 until the year 1836, he edited and published the Western Telegraph, which was the organ of the old Jackson Democracy. Subsequently the Telegraph was carried on by John B. WELLER. During the first part of this period the Hamilton Intelligencer, the opposition paper, was edited by John WOODS, and subsequently it was edited, printed, and published by Lewis D. CAMPBELL. These four Hamilton editors all represented the district in Congress—Mr. WOODS four years, Mr. WEBSTER six years, Mr. WELLER six years, and Mr. CAMPBELL, the only survivor, eleven years.
In 1829 Mr. WEBSTER was elected clerk of the House of Representatives of the Ohio Legislature. In 1830 he was the representative of Butler in the Ohio Legislature, and elected speaker. In 1832, 1834, and 1836 he was elected representative to Congress from the district composed of the counties of Butler, Preble and Darke. In 1838 he was succeeded by John B. WELLER. Subsequently he was the successor of John REILY, deceased, as clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, and of the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio for Butler County.
During the administration of Jackson and Van Buren when he was actively in the field of Ohio politics, he was not such a leader as were William ALLEN, John BROUGH, or John B.WELLER. He was not an orator, but in a less ostentatious way he performed more telling service than either of them. Their great powers were displayed in haranguing the multitude and exciting their friends to action without, perhaps, making very many converts from the opposition. Mr. WEBSTER's great strength was in what was called the button-hole and fence-corner system of electioneering. He had not superior in the Miami Valley in organizing political forces in detail during a campaign and bringing them into action when a decisive battle was to be fought. He was naturally of a mild and unassuming disposition—calm discreet, and a considerate in action. He was always temperate, industrious, and persevering, and he discharged with honesty and fidelity the functions of the various official positions with which he was intrusted. He died on the 27th of April, 1876, at the residence of his son, in New Orleans.
It is just half a century since Dr. FALCONER entered upon the duties of his profession, which gives him the distinction of being the oldest practicing physician in the county, while but few in the State can lay claim to a professional career of equal length. No physician in Butler county is more widely or more favorably known than Dr. FALCONER, not only by his acknowledged skill as a physician and surgeon, but also as a man of prominence outside of his chosen profession. His early education was liberal, and from studious habits and a naturally inquiring disposition his mind is replete with a store of knowledge that constitutes him one of Hamilton's most cultured citizens. He is a ready writer, which from time has enabled him to furnish scientific and medical journals with able articles. His first contribution was a report on cholera in Butler County, published in 1834 in Dr. Drake's Western Medical Journal. Another article which attracted considerable notice was furnished the same journal some years afterwards, describing a Caesarian operation performed by him.
Doctor FALCONER has been a prominent member of the Ohio State Medical Association ever since 1845, shortly after its inception, and is one of a few of its oldest members now living. He has been its vice-president repeatedly, and in 1881 was nominated for president, but was defeated by a small vote. He has also been a member of the American Medical Association since 1859, and was a delegate to the first international medical congress, which was held in Philadelphia in 1876. The medical profession in Butler and surrounding counties owe much to Doctor FALCONER for his efforts in their behalf. He was the active founder of the Butler County Medical Society, composed of the physicians of Butler and Preble Counties, Ohio, and Union, Rush, Wayne, and Fayette Counties, Indiana. Doctor FALCONER for many years has had a very large practice, and every thing intended for the advancement of medical science in the surrounding country has had his hearty support and the benefits of this long and successful experience. Upon the first draft of soldiers in 1861 he was appointed examining surgeon of this district. For the past three years Doctor FALCONER has been carrying on a farm in Hanover Township in connection with his other duties. During R.B. HAYES's first term as governor of the State, Doctor FALCONER was, by his appointment, trustee of the State Agricultural College, and was also appointed by Governor NOYES.
Ever since the inception of the Republican party Doctor FALCONER has been an enthusiastic supporter of its principles, although his first vote was cast for a Democratic candidate General JACKSON, in 1832. Between that date, however, and the birth of the Republican party his affiliations were with the Whigs. He figured conspicuously in politics in those days and was sent as a delegate to the Whig National Convention at Harrisburg, in 1839, which nominated General HARRISON for President, and took an active part in the campaign following.
The doctor has been one the leading members of the Presbyterian Church of Hamilton for a great many years, having been associated with that Church since 1845, and for the past thirty-two years one of its elders. In 1857 and 1864 he was a delegate to the Presbyterian General Assembly, at Lexington, Kentucky, and Newark, New Jersey, respectively.
He was early identified with educational interests of Hamilton, and was one the organizers of the union school system in this place in 1851. He was one of three of the first board of school examiners, in which capacity he served for nine years.
Doctor FALCONER married his first wife, Miss Mary, daughter of the Hon. John WOODS, October 8, 1839, who died September 18, 1870. Eight children were born of this union. The oldest, John W., born September 30, 1840, was killed at Appomattox Court-house, April 9, 1865, thirty minutes before the flag of truce was raised by General LEE asking a cessation of hostilities from General GRANT. He was a captain of a company of United States colored troops, and was leading the skirmish line which checked the last effort of the rebels to escape, when he received a mortal wound. The second son, Jerome, born March, 1844, was also shot at Stone River, in August, 1863. He died at his home, in Hamilton, seven months afterwards. William R. (or P.) was born May 14, 1847. Louise, wife of General Eugene POWELL, of Delaware, Ohio, was born February 15, 1852. Helen, wife of Captain O'BRIEN, of the Seventeenth Regiment in the regular army, serving at Fort Yates, Dakota, was born December 9, 1853. Cyrus, Jr., was born March 5, 1856. Scott, born May 12, 1858, died, aged two years, and Mary was born May 22, 1863.
The date of his second marriage was February 1, 1872, to Miss Margaret McKEE, of Columbus, who died September 15, 1878. He married his present wife, Miss Ella CRAWFORD, of Hamilton,, May 20, 1880. Of this last union one child, a son, was born, February 16, 1882.
Doctor FALCONER, although of advanced age is firm and elastic in step, vigorous in movement, and displays the same activity and quickness he did thirty years ago. His face is very marked in its outline, and his head is crowned with an abundant growth of white hair.
He has been very concerned in nearly every public measure which affects the interests of Hamilton, and has been distinguished in his action by originality of views. He is but little affected by the ideas of others, and pursues his course regardless of popular clamor. Often he has been the most unpopular man in town, but time has generally shown the correctness of his opinions. He never shrinks from maintaining what he believes to be true; neither does he mince words in branding a falsehood.
For the last fifty years he has taken a decided stand in every thing that can affect mankind in this neighborhood. He was an ardent Whig and is now an ardent Republican; he is unremitting in his attendance on the ordinances of religion; he is an active Sunday-school teacher; he has on occasions delivered addresses on patriotic and professional subjects; in committee work he has done a great deal; he has exposed wrong and fraud wherever he has met them, whether intended to defraud the taxpayers of Hamilton or of the country. He attends every public meeting at which it is desirable that good citizens should turn out and he had not been backward in putting his hand into his pocket when desired to do so for the good of the community. For many years he has been regarded as among the first three or four citizens of the town.