Pages 356 - 361

History of Butler County: Hamilton

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Christian Henry SOHN, of the firm of Sohn & Rentschler, was born in the city of Bissingen, in Wirtemberg, Germany, May 15, 1846. His father, Charles Frederick SOHN, came to America about 1849, and after a brief interval settled in Cincinnati, where he followed the calling of a brewer. About that time the mother of Christian Henry died, leaving a family of two sons and two daughters, and a year after her death the father sent for his family of little children from Germany, and they were brought over by a cousin. Upon his arrival, J. G. SOHN, the uncle of the boy, took charge of him, keeping him at school until his fourteenth year, when he went to work.

In 1860 he came to Hamilton, being apprenticed to Jacob RUPP, a butcher, and remained with him until the breaking out of the war. Filled with patriotic ardor for his adopted country, he enlisted, but was soon brought back on a writ of habeas corpus, as he had enlisted without the consent of his father, and was only fifteen years of age. In 1863 he went to Cincinnati and engaged as clerk in a grocery store, remaining there until his eighteenth year, when he again enlisted, in Company B, One Hundred and Eighty-first Ohio Regiment. With this regiment he stayed until the 23d of November, 1864. On that day he was wounded in the head by a shell during the progress of the battle of Murfreesboro. He remained in the hospital at Murfreesboro for about seventy days, when he received a furlough, and returned home, reporting at Columbus. His company was mustered out at Salisbury, North Carolina, and his discharge, which was dated July 14, 1865, was sent to him.

The effects of the wound which he had received were such as to disable him for more than a year, and for that period he was unable to work. That year he remained in Cincinnati, and at its expiration came to Hamilton, where he engaged to work in a brick-yard. He stayed here with Jacob RUPP until 1869, in that year becoming bookkeeper for Henry EGER, in a brewery. In 1875 the firm of Sohn, Rentschler & Balle, founders and manufacturers of shelf hardware, was formed, with a very small capital. Their business rapidly increased, and on July 25, 1876, the first two partners bought out Mr. BALLE, and formed firm under the name of Sohn & Rentschler. Mr. SOHN's partner is G. A. RENTSCHLER, an active and able business man, who is interested in several other enterprises. They make shelf hardware, all kinds of gray iron castings, and machinery to order, having a large and rapidly increasing business. Mr. SOHN has also one-sixth interest in the stock company of Hooven, Owens, Rentschler & Co., manufacturers of portable and stationary engines and thresher; one-fourth of the Phoenix Castor Company, and on-third interest in an ice-hose in Fairfield Township, with a capacity of four thousand tons. He is interested in what is known as the Cincinnati Brewing Company. He is a member of Hamilton Lodge, No. 409, of Free and Accepted Masons, and is a Prominent man in all social organizations.

He was married the twentieth day of December, 1876, to Anna Sophia MORGENTHALER, daughter of Christian MORGENTHALER, who was born July 25, 1813. His wife is now thirty-four years of age, having been born in April, 1848. The different concerns in which he is a partner employ about three hundred men. The Ohio Iron Works, as the firm of Sohn & Rentschler is known, started with three thousand dollars, each one contributing a thousand, but the partners have persevered, and by industry and forethought have made the business valuable. They erected their own buildings, the partners themselves working. Mr. SOHN is a shrewd, practical man, and in all his dealings is upright and just, and is considered one of Hamilton's most prominent and enterprising young business men. In society and among his friends he is genial and affable, while in business he is careful, prudent, and foreseeing. From small beginnings their trade has gradually increased, until it has reached large dimensions. Mr. SOHN is an excellent example of a self-made man, and his career shows plainly what can be accomplished by industry and strict attention to business.


The first organization of the Israelites in this town was in August, 1866, at the residence of Mr. Moses KLEIN, Mr. KLEIN being elected president, pro tem., and F. STERNFIELD, secretary. Mr. ROSENTHAL, of Dayton, was the first one to officiate at services. Those belonging to this organization were as follows : Jacob MAAS, Jacob GRABENHEWER, David KOPPEL, Mayer ROTH, Moritz SAUER, Hermann GUGENHEIMER, Louis DAVIS, Jonas HIRSCH, F. STERNFIELD, Samuel GANZ. The first place used for public worship was at Morner's building, on High Street. On April 6, 1878, they bought a building lot on Fourth Street, upon which there was erected a synagogue, which was built by the members and the public. Its cost was $2,450. It was dedicated by the Rev. Dr. WISE, of Cincinnati, September 21, 1878.


The first Roman Catholic that ever preached at Hamilton was the Rev. Mr. HILL, who delivered two or three discourses in the court-house in the year 1825. In the early part of the year 1829 the Rev. James MULLIN, then of Cincinnati, but who now has charge of St. Peter's Church in the city of New Orleans, visited Hamilton, and preached a sermon in the court-house to a large and respectable assembly of people, many of whom had never heard a Roman Catholic preach before. He occasionally visited Hamilton several times afterwards, during that and the succeeding year, and delivered discourses in the court-house to large and attentive audiences. His manner and eloquence, which was of the first order, attracted considerable attention, and tended much to dissipate and do away with the prejudices existing against that denomination of Christians.

The Right Reverend Edward FENWICK, bishop of the diocese of Cincinnati, also delivered two or three discourses, and the Rev. Mr. MONTGOMERY preached several times about the same period. A proposal was made by some of the citizens, that if the Catholics would build a church in Hamilton a lot of ground should be furnished them free of expense. The proposal was acceded to by Bishop FENWICK. A subscription was accordingly put in circulation, and lots numbered 151 and 152 in the town of Hamilton were purchased for the sum of four hundred dollars, which were conveyed to Bishop FENWICK in 1830, in trust for the purpose of erecting a Roman Catholic Church thereon.

At this time there were no persons belonging to the Roman Catholic Church residing in Hamilton, and not more than a dozen known to live within the limits of Butler County. The subscription to purchase the lots was obtained wholly from persons belonging to other denominations, and those who were not attached to any particular church. An additional subscription of three hundred dollars was afterwards obtained to aid in the erection of the building. The lots are beautifully situated, on the corner of Dayton and Second Streets, forming, together, a plat of ground two hundred feet square, the most eligible location for a church in the town. In the 1832, a brick building in the Gothic style was erected, and inclosed on the ground under the superintendence of Mr. A WHITE, of Cincinnati, The wood-work for finishing the interior of the building, was got out and prepared in Cincinnati, but when nearly ready to be brought out and put up in the Fall of the year 1833, the carpenter shop of Mr. WHITE was consumed by fire with all the work which had been prepared ready for finishing the interior of the church. Consequently the finishing of the building was delayed for some time. Mr. James MURRAY was afterwards employed to finish the interior of the building, which was completed in the year 1836.

The church was of brick with a stone foundation, built in the Gothic style, sixty feet long by forty feet wide, and twenty-two feet high to the eaves. The entrance was from Dayton Street by a door on the south. The altar was at the north end. The interior was finished in a plain but neat manner, having pews capable of seating at least five hundred persons. Over the altar was a splendid painting, and on the east a figure of our Savior on the cross as large as life. An excellent organ was obtained and placed in the church. On the south end of the building was a very neat steeple covered with tin and surmounted by a small gilt cross. The whole presented a handsome appearance, the principal defect being that the foundation of the building was not raised high enough from the ground.

A neat brick building, two stories high, with an attic story, was afterwards erected near the south-west corner of the lot, on which a select school was taught. The rest of the building was-designed for the accommodation of the officiating priest and others having the immediate charge of the Church.

The number of members belonging to the Roman Catholic Church of Hamilton, in 1844, was about six hundred. In June, 1840, the Rev. Thomas R. BUTLER arrived at Hamilton and took charge of the Church and congregation, and continued as the officiating priest from that time until about the first of January, 1845, when he removed from Hamilton to St. Louis. During Mr. BUTLER's residence his urbanity and gentlemanly deportment acquired him the esteem of all those with whom he had intercourse. As a speaker he was eloquent, and as a polemic debater he acquired considerable celebrity.

Up to 1848 the German and English speaking Catholics were united in their services, but there were serious difficulties connected with this mode of worship. Many of the Germans understood no English, and none of the Irish people understood any German. So it was thought advisable to separate, each nationality to have its own church. A plan was laid before the members of the congregation by which it was stipulated that, as the church property then was appraised at six thousand dollars, one of the two parties was to raise three thousand and pay it to the other portion of the congregation, which would go out and erect a new church. The Germans being successful in obtaining subscriptions to that amount, became, by decision of Archbishop PURCELL, the owners of the existing church building and the property thereto attached. The Rev. Nicholas WACHTER, of the Franciscans, became their first pastor. The congregation increased in numbers steadily until it was found necessary to replace the old church by a new house of worship. In the year 1852 the corner-stone of the present edifice was laid, the church being completed in 1853, at a cost of about twenty thousand dollars, under the supervision and pastorate of the Rev. Pirmin EBERHARD. The congregation increased and flourished, it having its own school as early as 1849. In the course of time other buildings, such as a new school, vestry-room, and parsonage, were built, each attended with considerable expense. At present, St. Stephen's is one of the most complete churches of the arch-diocese of Cincinnati, a monument to the zeal and liberality of the German Catholics of Hamilton. The congregation numbers at present three hundred and seventy-five families, or very nearly sixteeen hundred souls. Ever since the congregation became entirely German, the Franciscan order has had charge of it. The present pastor is the Rev. Nicholas HOLTEL.

The school, which is under the supervision of the pastor, is divided into classes for the boys and girls. The male pupils are taught by brothers of the Holy Cross, from Notre Dame, Indiana, while the female pupils are taught by the sisters of Notre Dame. Three hundred and eighty children attend the school, and are taught all the elementary branches. A branch from this Church is known as St. Joseph's, and is situated in the lower part of the town. Its pastor is the Rev. A. BIENE. It was organized in 1866. There is a cemetery belonging to St. Stephen's, in which are many handsome monuments.


George Adam RENTSCHLER was born in Schmee, Wirtemberg, County Calw, Germany, on the 8th of July, 1846, and is the son of Jacob and Catherine RENTSCHLER. His mother died in his infancy, and in 1852 his father, with a family of seven children, came to America, George being the youngest. They first settled in Newark, New Jersey. There he attended school up to the time of his father's death, in 1858. He then commenced to learn the trade of molding and pattern-making, with Oscar Barnett & Co., with whom he remained for seven years, learning the business thoroughly. While serving his time he attended night-school, and supported himself by his earnings.

In 1864 he went to Peru, Indiana, where he was employed at molding for one year. He then removed to Indianapolis, where he had charge of the Novelty Iron Works until 1870. From 1870 to 1871 he was in Cincinnati with Adams & Brith, in charge of their stove foundry. In 1872 he returned to Indianapolis, acting as superintendent of the Variety Iron Works, where he remained until their removal to Hamilton in March, 1873. Mr. RENTSCHLER accompanied them and remained in the same position until June, 1875, when the firm of Sohn, Rentschler & Balle was formed. By this time Mr. RENTSCHLER had acquired a vast stock of experience, and he thought he could utilize it more thoroughly for himself than by working for another man. Although the capital of the concern was small, the industry and pains of the partners supplied all defects. Their chief line was shelf hardware. July 25, 1876, Mr. BALLE withdrew, and the new firm was known as Sohn & Rentschler, and their establishment as the Ohio Iron Works. In the firm of Hoover, Owens, Rentschler & Co., which manufactures portable and stationary engines and threshers, Mr. RENTSCHLER owns a large interest.

In conjunction with Joseph B. HUGHES, now the county auditor, he founded the Royal Pottery Works, which make a class of goods never before attempted in the United States, and of rare beauty and utility. He has also an interest in the Phoenix Caster company, in an ice-house in Fairfield Township, which will hold four thousand tons, and is interested in what is known as the Cincinnati Brewing Company of Hamilton. The greatest portion of his time, however, is taken up in his iron works. Here they manufacture gray iron castings, make machinery to order, and supply a large line of shelf hardware. It was some time before they were able to obviate the difficulties occasioned by a lack of money, but since that trouble disappeared, they have rapidly increased, year by year until their business now is of large size.

Mr. RENTSCHLER was married in 1864, at Newark, New Jersey, to Miss Kate GRAF, by whom he had two sons. She died December 29, 1869. He is a member of the Blue Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, of Hamilton, No. 409, and is also a member of Germania Lodge, No. 129, of Odd Fellows, at Indianapolis. It will be seen, therefore, that the enviable position which Mr. RENTSCHLER now occupies is not owing to any advantages given him by his parents or his friends, but is the result of his own hard labor and great capacity for taking trouble. He was only able to invest one thousand dollars in the establishment when it began, but the value of the knowledge he had attained can not be estimated. He is thoroughly informed as to every detail of the business, and has worked at every part of it, so that, if necessity required, he could do the work with his own hands. His judgment is excellent, and he looks after every portion. In manner he is social and genial, and a visitor at once feels at home in his society. Mr. RENTSCHLER is a model of physical strength and manhood, and his standing in business and social circles in the city of Hamilton is of the highest order. Without having any particular early educational advantages, he has qualified himself, by observation and reading, until he has stored his mind with good and useful knowledge; and with his practical experience has no superior in his several lines of business.


Dr. William HUBER was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, on the 5th of July, 1813. He was educated in the schools in that vicinity, and when fifteen years of age attended an academy at Lebanon. He began reading medicine when sixteen years old, and attended a course of lectures at the University of New York, in Fairfield, in 1831 and 1832, and a second course at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, in 1833 and 1834. He was graduated from that institution in 1834. And began the practice of his profession at Lebanon, April 1, 1834. He continued there until ill health compelled him to seek a more congenial climate, and he then came to Columbus, Ohio, where he improved so rapidly that he concluded to remain in this State. He went to West Alexandria, Preble County, where he remained one year, then going to Eaton. There in company with Dr. A. H. BAKER, he stayed two years, then coming to Hamilton. He located here in 1841, and has ever since been in the practice of his profession in this town.

Dr. HUBER is one of the oldest members of the Butler County Medical Society, and is a member also of the Union District Medical society. He is a very prominent physician. Dr. HUBER was married in 1846 to Miss Mary D. BUDD, who was born in New Jersey. They are the parents of eleven children, of whom six survive. He is a member of the Episcopal Church and of the Masonic order.


Frederick B. PUTHOFF, mayor of the city of Hamilton, was born at Cincinnati, April 20, 1843. His parents, John Henry and Mary Elizabeth (BORGER) PUTHOFF, were natives of Osnabruck, in Hanover. Mr. And Mrs. PUTHOFF came to this country about 1834, settling in Cincinnati, where the father soon built up a prosperous business, and where he still lives, at the age of seventy-five. Mrs. PUTHOFF died in 1879. Frederick B. PUTHOFF attended the schools of Cincinnati, and at the age of eleven was sent to boarding school at Dayton, where he remained for two years, and exhibited marked proficiency in his studies. He then returned to Cincinnati, where he entered St. Xavier College, being there for two years more. He then was employed as a clerk in different stores, being in this occupation until he had reached his eighteenth year.

He tried to enlist at the beginning of the war, but on account of his age, and from the fact that he had two older brothers already in the service, they refused to take him. Mr. PUTHOFF did not take the refusal of the recruiting officers to accept him with resignation. He ran away from home and boarded the boat that took the regiment to Ripley, Ohio, where he found his two older brothers, who informed the officers of the circumstances, and requested them to return him to Cincinnati , which was done. Four months after, he ran away again, joining the commissary department, and acting as one of the clerks. With this department he remained for a year.

He then returned home and began learning the cabinet-maker's trade, at which he continued until of age in 1864. One day shortly after, he left the shop with his working cap and apron on, and walked up to the recruiting office, where he enlisted in the Second Ohio Cavalry, returning to his employer's place in uniform. With other recruits he was sent to Harper's Ferry, after being drilled for some time at Columbus, and was placed in the brigade under command of General CUSTER. They remained in Virginia until the close of the war, and after the grand review at Washington were sent to Arkansas.

Upon his return home to Cincinnati he engaged as a salesman in the furniture business with Duncan & Williams, wholesale dealers, remaining there until 1867. He was married in 1867, and every thing went on well. He was then living in St. Louis, his employers in that placed being Comstock & Haywood. After being there some months he was sent by them to Peoria, Illinois, to act as salesman and assistant manager of a branch house. His wife died the year following, on the 14th of May, 1868, one week after giving birth to twins.

Mr. PUTHOFF remained in Peoria until 1870, when he came to Hamilton, where a brother was engaged in the drug business. Here also was his daughter. With what means he had saved from his salary as salesman he bought a stock of goods and opened a hat store, continuing in that business until May, 1881. A short time after his coming to the town his fellow-citizens perceived that he had a natural adaptability to the public service. He was always ready for committee work or for labor at the polls, and spoke readily and effectively. He was elected a member of the city council from the First Ward in 1878, and signalized his term of two years in that capacity by vigorous and successful efforts for sewerage, parks, improvements of streets, and other municipal improvement. He refused a re-election, which was proffered him, but his popularity brought him out as a candidate, against his own wishes, for the State Legislature, but he failed to secure the nomination in convention.

In 1881 he was named for the office of mayor, and was triumphantly elected, receiving the largest majority ever given in the city--six hundred. The candidate on the other side was the popular M. N. MAGINNIS. During his administration of affairs the city has been distinguished by its quiet and the respect paid to law. The death of GARFIELD happened since he was in office. Every preparation had been made here for celebrating the anniversary of the nation's birth with unusual distinction. Mayor PUTHOFF issued a manifesto requesting the citizens to desist from the public demonstrations intended. A citizens' meeting was called by him to express sorrow and detestation of the crime, and at this meeting the mayor spoke weightily and with feeling. The proposed celebration was abandoned. He exerted himself at the time of the proposed execution of the new liquor law by his efforts to secure a hearty and free submission to it, and to allay any animosities that might have sprung from this cause.

Mayor PUTHOFF is a member of the Knights of Honor and the Knights and Ladies of Honor, and is a member of the Soldiers and Sailors' Association. He was married to his second and present wife, Helen MCCAFFERTY, of Macomb, Illinois, but a native of Nauvoo, in the same State, on the 18th of July, 1870. Three children by this wife are living. The oldest, Fred. L., is nine years of age; the second, Mary E., died at the age of three; Eva H. is two years of age; and the youngest, a little girl a year old. Anna M., the daughter of the first wife, is fourteen years of age, and attends a boarding school in Cincinnati. Mr. PUTHOFF has well discharged the duties of the offices confided to him, and has shown by his ability his capacity to take other and larger trusts.


Constantine MARKT, M.D., president of the Eclectic Medical Society of the State of Ohio, is a native of Spaichingen, in the kingdom of Wirtemberg, Germany, where he was born on the 25th of February, 1832. His father, Karl MARKT, was a dealer in clothing, and for sixteen years was one of the twelve associate judges of the district, to whom was confided the duty of sitting in judgment at the trial of offenders, two with the supreme judge constituting a quorum. His mother was named Mary. One of Dr. MARKT's brothers had been forced to leave Germany on account of political troubles in 1848, and had settled in Thompson, Lake County, Ohio. He wrote repeatedly to his father to come over with his family, and settle here also. Constantine was opposed to this, but after the death of his mother, which happened in 1852, he abandoned opposition to the plan, and, with his father, one brother, and three sisters, embarked for America in 1854. What they should do in the New World he did not know. He had received his early education in the schools of his native town, and at the age of fourteen began attending a seminary, where he prepared himself for the university, and where he graduated three years later, having taken the classical course. He was then made a teacher under the government, remaining attentive to his duties until his departure for America.

Upon their arrival, Mr. MARKT found that the brother who had preceded him was not in a situation to render them much aid, and the young man determined that to his toil they should owe their subsistence. As yet he could not see his way clearly. The most imperative requisite for a livelihood is a knowledge of the language of the people among whom it is the lot of a stranger to be cast, and of English he as yet knew nothing. He soon, however, was in a way to remedy this defect, as a short time after he arrived he made the acquaintance of Postmaster MEAD, an old and esteemed citizen of that town, with whom he exchanged lessons in music to his little girl for English. It was not long after he reached Thompson that his new friend perceived that he possessed musical attainments far beyond the common, and that as a performer upon the piano he much surpassed any one in the neighborhood. In truth, Mr. MARKT had been thoroughly grounded in the principles of music in Germany, and had been well known in the places in which he had lived as an amateur of promise. He had, however, never intended to become a professional musician, but the quick eye of Mr. MEAD soon saw that here was the path that would lead him to a livelihood and competence. He took Mr. MARKT to Painesville, sixteen miles distant, where he performed before the musical young ladies of the town, met for that purpose. From that time he had no fears of his future. He then removed to Painesville with the rest of the family, and there established himself. He taught assiduously during the day, and in the evening studied medicine, for which he had had an inclination from boyhood, with Dr. CARPENDER. He cared for his family as long as they needed it--his father until his death in 1865, and his sisters until their marriage.

In 1856, having attained sufficient means and a competent knowledge of the English tongue, he began attending lectures at the Eclectic Medical College, in Cincinnati under charge of Dr. CLEVELAND, who died in Nashville, Tennessee, during the war, and was graduated in 1858. He at once came to Hamilton, and entered upon practice, being married the same year. Here he was at once successful. His easy and agreeable manners, his imperturbable coolness, his command of all the resources of the physician's art, at once made him a favorite. A year after coming here he was made brigade-surgeon of this district for the militia. During the war he was influential and active. He attended assiduously to his calling for many years, but finally, after a long attack of illness, became convinced that he had given too intense a devotion to his profession. He resolved to abandon the duties of a visiting physician, and bought the drug-store formerly owned by J. W. BALDRIDGE, No. 13 Third Street, which had been established years before by John O. BROWN. To propose, however, is one thing, and to do is another. Many of his old patients refused to leave him, and he found that he had, in addition to his medical practice, a drug-store on his hands. He had also, during his many years of residence here, acquired great skill as an operator in difficult cases of surgery, and in this respect his reputation has increased with time.

He was married in 1858 to Miss Josephine C. CARPENDER, daughter of his old preceptor, Dr. Joseph Brown CARPENDER (who was a man of much prominence in the medical profession as well as in other ways). He was a native of Milton, Vermont, and the son of a physician. Mrs. Caroline Jackson CARPENDER was the mother. Dr. CARPENDER graduated at the Burlington Medical College about 1826. He came West in 1835, and settled in Wellsville, Erie County, Pennsylvania, but in 1843 went to Painesville, Ohio, where he practiced until his death, in 1861, at the age of fifty-five. He had been mayor of Painesville, and for several years president of the school board. He was a man of great probity of character, and for years exerted a marked influence in the affairs of the town. Mrs. CARPENDER died in 1865. She was also a native of Milton, Vermont. Dr. and Mrs. MARKT have had three children, two of whom are now living. Adelaide C. MARKT was born July 25, 1869, and Karl Constantine, August 16, 1873. Mrs. MARKT is a Presbyterian in religion, and a lady who enjoys the highest esteem of all who have the pleasure of her acquaintance, and is considered one of the most popular in the social circles of Hamilton. She is secretary of the Butler County Children's Home, and one of the managers. She is one of its founders, and a charter member. She is active in Church and missionary work. Besides what we have mentioned above, Dr. MARKT has taken an active interest in every thing that benefits society.

He is a member of the Miami Medical Society, the State Medical Association of Hamilton, and county examining physician of the Royal Arcanum and the Knights of Honor, and a contributor to various medical periodicals. He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Knights of Honor, and the Royal Arcanum. He was the leader of the Maennerchor in this city for several years, and brought it to a high stage of excellence. Since entering upon medicine he has found but little leisure for this favorite pursuit. He is the secretary of the board of health, and has been so for eighteen years; has been a member of the school board, and has filled other offices of prominence and responsibility. In person Dr. MARKT is tall and commanding, in manners courteous and obliging, and in business thorough and exact. No man is better esteemed in Hamilton, and when a friend has once been made by him he is always kept.