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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

William H. Clement: One Of Morrow's Founders

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 28 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 256
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Our story this week will focus on one of the founders of Morrow, William Henry Clement. The settlement of the town, in 1844, centered around Mr. Clement's direct involvement with the Little Miami Railroad. Prior to his residency in the County, Mr. Clement had been engaged in several different engineering projects.
A sketch of Mr. Clement states that he attended the village school in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., his birthplace, and afterwards entered the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy. During school vacation of 1834, he joined the engineering corps of William C. Young, and then engaged in surveys on the Saratoga and Whitehall Railroad.
After his graduation at Troy, in 1835, he was identified with the engineering party supervising the construction of the Utica and Schenectady Railroad. He was appointed superintendent of track laying and finalized the project at Little Falls in 1836. (He was but 21 years of age at this time.)
He next traveled to Canada, where he devoted several months to the construction of railroads. The year 1837 finds Clement in Ohio where he was engaged for a brief time on a line south of Sandusky, the Mad River Railroad. The next year he became engaged with the Little Miami Railroad, in which he took great interest. He was brought along by one of the supervisors of the former line and made chief engineer. By the time the line had been completed to Springfield, he had been appointed General Superintendent, a position he held until 1857.
Clement was known to rule with an "iron hand." One writer says that work under him "was like military service; he developed the character of his men by strict discipline so that they felt the pressure of his reliance on them to properly discharge their duties."
During the coal shortage of the severe winter of 1856, the Little Miami was about the only railroad in Ohio with access to the mines. Work continued day and night to restore operations, and, despite this, "no man left his post."
His positions on the Little Miami Railroad included that of engineer, superintendent and president. At the time of his death he was a director. Under his guidance, the railroad was known as the best-managed and safest railroad in the United States. Clement's contributions to the village of Morrow included the donation of a lot to the first church in Morrow. It was known as a Union Church and built previous to 1847 by private subscription. He also donated a lot in 1848 for the construction of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The congregation commenced building soon after their organization, and, until it was completed, held their services in the Union Church.
He was attracted by the layout of the land surrounding the present site of Morrow. He purchased a tract of land and erected a house known today as Oak Hill.
From 1857 to 1860 he was vice-president and general manager of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, a long trunk line running through Southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis.
At first the Little Miami officials refused to release him, but buckled under after a couple of months. He spent three years in St. Louis as president and general manager of the Union Depot and roads connecting there.
From 1877 to 1882 he was president and general manager of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad, which ran directly through Kentucky and Tennessee for a distance of 336 miles.
Although his time in his later years was spent in the West, his leisure time was devoted to his farms near Morrow, one of which he lived on for a period of forty-five years.
Clement was the eldest child of Joel and Aurelia Putnam Clement of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He was born July 30, 1815, and died on January 17, 1887. He was married twice, first to Elizabeth Steiner, which bore him two children, Henry S. and John B. Clement. His second wife was Mrs. Caroline Smith, by which he also had two children, Mrs. Caroline Watson Soteldo and Miss Florence Putnam Clement.
Clement retired in 1882. While wintering in Florida in 1885, he fell and sustained a severe knee injury. He never fully recovered. A visit from his son, Col. H.S. Clement, on January 8, 1887, found him in poor health. On January 17 of that year, he passed away.


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This page created 28 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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