Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan
|Dallas Bogan on 18 September 2004|
|original article by Dallas Bogan|
|Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan|
If a resident from the past were to visit the village of Blue Ball at this
time, they would find a completely changed scene. They would find crowded shopping
malls, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and an almost total change in the surroundings.
(The historical contents of this article were taken from an outline of Blue Ball written in 1899.)
Rather than deliberate on the present conditions, lets just hesitate for a
moment and ask, how did "Blue Ball" get its name?
In the 1820's there were a number of houses at the crossroads of present Dixie Highway and the old Irish Road. (The latter road ran from Middletown to Red Lion.)
James Weir kept tavern for many years in the small village. It was originally built and owned by Thomas Vail. He later sold it to Jonathan Emmons of New Jersey. Emmons called the tavern, as well as the settlement, "Guilford" up to the time of its purchase. He installed the first "Blue Ball" and changed the name of the tavern and village. That ball has long been established as the symbol of an ever-thriving village that lies partly in Warren County.
George Crout, Middletown area historian, writes in his column that Blue Ball now has its fifth "Blue Ball" in place. The previous one was dedicated on October 23, 1976, and was recently hit by a cherry picker while removing it during the process of installing a new signal system.
William Humphreys first purchased Warren County lands in the village in 1796. A choppers cabin had previously been built on this land and a man named Bowersock took up residence. (This type cabin was built by a temporary settler who simply located on the land rather than purchasing it.) Mr. Humphreys was unmarried at this time and boarded with him.
In 1797, Mr. Humphreys built a hewn log-house that was located close to an excellent spring. The second house built in this section was also a hewn log- house and was occupied by Daniel McConnel.
A man named Dick bought land along the Irish Road in 1795 in section 33. He named the small creek running through his land after himself. In 1796, Dick's section was divided up and Peter Deardoff acquired the northwest one-fourth, while Thomas Hunter purchased the northeast one-fourth. Joseph Parks bought the south half of Dick's section in the same year. Dick apparently never resided in the locality. Park's location had a choppers cabin built on it. Mr. Hunter and his young wife, both from Ireland, resided at this dwelling until, in 1802, he built his own home.
The Hunters left Ireland for the United States the day after their marriage. The trip across the ocean was a long and tiresome journey. Traveling over the mountains with their apparel, facing the elements, along with many other trials, merely extended their long, hard struggle. This was just one episode in the journey of the many pioneers that settled Warren County.
Joseph Parks came to Ohio from Pennsylvania in 1797. In 1803 he reportedly built the first brick residence in Warren County. It was destroyed by fire about 1880.
Robert Parks, son of Joseph Parks, donated an acre of ground for a cemetery, and leased an adjacent acre for a church building. He also leased a third acre on the west for "hitching purposes."
In 1810 a church building was constructed. It was built of hewn blue ash logs and was 30 X 36 feet. It was donated by the people of the community, and was known as the Dick's Creek Presbyterian Church. In 1836 the original structure was torn down and a significant brick building was built.
Blue Ball erected its own church in 1854. In 1870 the two assemblies unified under the name of the Blue Ball Presbyterian Church.
The old Dicks Creek Church was torn down in 1884 and the material was used in the parsonage built at Blue Ball.
A Mr. Gillespi, James Wilson, Robert Kerr, and James T. Robinson originally owned section 26. Gillespi purchased the northwest corner and, in 1797 or 1798, built a hewn-log house. In 1836 he built a large brick house known as the "Gillespie House." Also, the William Glassford house was built in 1840.
Some other names of the early land-owners in the area of Blue Ball are: Joseph Green, John Gallaher, R. W. Lefever, John Patton, Samuel Crane, a Mr. Cox, and a Mr. Nye.
In 1812, or possibly earlier, Mr. Deardoff constructed a large mill on Dick's Creek. It consisted of a sawmill, fulling mill and carding mill. This facility was so busy that many farmers had to wait for days to get their work done. It was eventually washed away by high water.
Perhaps at this time we should concentrate on more personal aspects of the village of Blue Ball and its surroundings.
Richard Bloss has provided much material to the Warren County Historical Society, and has donated a series of letters written by W. Miltenberger, which concerns the ever-changing locale.
At this time we shall highlight some of these events.
A letter was written June 3, 1883, from Blue Ball, Warren County, Ohio. It was addressed to J.M. Blose of Verbana, Va. It starts out by telling of the shifting of the weather from clear in the forenoon to rain and hail in the afternoon. The weather was so backward that the farmers had just commenced plowing their corn the previous week. The wheat crop was below expectation, but the barley oats was looking good.
Mr. Miltenberger had 32 acres of clover and timothy planted that was collapsing. He had about 400 bushels of wheat left over from the previous year, and was holding it for a higher price. He sold it for $1.15 per bushel. Corn was selling for 55 cents per bushel. He tells of cousin Hess who had started to Missouri the previous Friday to see his farm he had bought, and had never seen. If he liked it he would stay; if he didn't, he would sell.
Also, he tells of the tobacco factories in Middletown. He writes: "Just last week there was a train of cars loaded with tobacco from Richmond Va. This was unloaded at Middletown 3-1/2 miles from us. There are two of the largest Tobacco factories there in the United States it is said. But seeing is believing. Come and see."
Another letter was addressed from W. & B. Miltenberger, Spring Hill Farm, Nov. 27, 1887, Blue Ball, Ohio, Warren County. It was addressed to J.W. Blose, Furnace, Page Co., Va.
In this letter he reported of the drought conditions all over the country. It had been broken up by three days of drizzling rains, and had been the longest ever recorded by the earlier settlers of the County. He commented on the feeding of his 24 hogs. He wanted to sell them, the market being $5.00 to $5.30. He also had a group of 50 pigs he would have fed for the spring markets, if the corn crop had not failed on account of the drought.
The remaining corn had all been cribbed, and the wood and coal had been stored for the winter.
Fruit and potatoes had been a failure, but they still had plenty of apples and potatoes stored from the previous year. Apples at this time were selling for $2.00 to $2.50 per barrel, the best selling for $3.00 per barrel. Potatoes were retailing for $1.00 per bushel. Wheat was at 80 to 85 cents per bushel; corn, 50 cents; and oats, 35 cents.
A letter of April 22, 1888, was more of a sentimental nature. It was written to the John Blose family of Virginia. Mr. Miltenberger writes:
"We shall never forget you. We intend to keep up a correspondence with you as long as we live. And we have a longing desire to see you once more in this life. O how glad we would have been to have had you and the family with us at our family reunion on the 4th of this month which was held at our house on that day.
"On the 4th last April was 56 years since we landed in Ohio. An unbroken family of nine children with father and mother. There are seven of us living five brothers ands two sisters. We are growing old but if you were to meet with us at our reunion you would think we was all boys.
"We meet together and have a big dinner and tell our old jokes and fun that we used to have on Naked Creek and on the road moving to Ohio and our school days in the old log school house there on your place. O how well I remember the old stony play ground. Old Felty Deets sent his boy there to school. He never could learn. He fell down one day when playing ball. Fell with his mouth on a stone and knocked one of his front teeth out.
"Old Mr. Yeager was our teacher. He ran to the boy and put his finger in his mouth to feel if his teeth was all there. The boy bit his finger and said in his dutch way, It ishoud it ishoud, and the blood running down his chin.
"Next summer we propose holding a reunion in the beautiful grove on our old farm near Springboro when all the Miltenberger brother and sisters will be present and I will say just here we want some of you to meet with us, if not all of you."
And so, another episode in the evolving of our historic Warren County has come to an end.
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