Tag Archives: bickham

Bio Sketch: Strickle Family (19th century), residents of Wilmington/Dayton, Ohio

Maria Emily (Strickle) Bickham was the wife of Dayton Journal editor William D. Bickham (see bio sketch) and mother of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Charles G. Bickham (see bio sketch).

Maria’s parents were Abraham Ellis Strickle (1807-1863) and Caroline Goodwin (d. 1867), of Wilmington, Ohio. Maria’s father Abraham was the director of the Clinton County Fair.

Abraham E. and Caroline (Goodwin) Strickle had 10 children:

  1. Elizabeth Ann Strickle (1831-[after 1900]), who married John W. Dunham in 1859, then John C. Deuell in 1869.
  2. Maria Emily Strickle (1833-1924), who married William Denison Bickham in 1855.
  3. Mary Gano Strickle (1836-1897), who married George K. Farquhar in 1858.
  4. Katharine Jane Strickle[1] (1838-1919), who married Rodney Foos in 1856.
  5. Caroline Margaret “Carrie” Strickle  (1840-1923), who married Captain John W. Clous[2] in 1874.
  6. Rebecca Harriet Strickle (1843-1933), who never married.
  7. Frances Williamson Strickle (1845-1894), who married Col. Henry C. Corbin[3] in 1865.
  8. Charles Rockwell Strickle (1848-1863).
  9. Alnetta Clark Strickle (1851-1851).
  10. Isaac Strickle (1852-1852).

Abraham Strickle died in July 1863 as a result of a fever contracted near Vicksburg during the Civil War.[4] His wife Caroline died in 1867. Afterwards, their unmarried daughters Carrie and Rebecca lived with their sister Maria Strickle Bickham and her family. Carrie Strickle Clous and Katherine Strickle Foos later lived with Maria again after their husbands had passed away. Rebecca, who never married, lived with her sister Maria Strickle Bickham, and later with her nephew Charles G. Bickham, for the majority of her life.[5]


[1] Katharine Strickle Foos is the source for the majority of the information included here about the Strickle family. See: Katharine S. Foos, The Ellis Family (Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1900), pp. 49-59. [LPR]

[2] Captain John W. Clous had a notable career in the military and is featured in several articles within the Bickham Collection (see index of original finding aid). [LPR]

[3] Colonel Henry C. Corbin had a notable career in the military and is featured in several articles within the Bickham Collection (see index of original finding aid), particularly in relation to the military career of Charles G. Bickham. [LPR]

[4] This collection contains an album commemorating Abraham; see Box 2, Folder 16. [LPR]

[5] Rebecca’s “autograph album” is included in this collection; see Box 5. [LPR]

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This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2011 for the Bickham Collection (MS-017) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654. Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection and in the citations below. Please contact the library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.

[This sketch was modified slightly from its original version to facilitate its separation from the larger Bickham Collection sketch.]

*****

Bibliography & Further Reading

Foos, Katharine S. The Ellis Family. Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1900. Dayton Local History B92 E47F.

Santmyer, Helen Hooven. A Calendar of the Bickham Collection: Letters, Documents, and Mementoes of Possible Historical Interest. Dayton:Dayton Public Library, 1956. Dayton Local History 016.091 D276C.

MS-017 Bickham Collection:

  • Box 2, Folder 15: Genealogical Notes on Bickham and Strickle Families.
  • Box 2, Folder 16: Abraham E. Strickle Memorial Album & Civil War Documents.
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Bio Sketch: Charles G. Bickham (1867-1944), soldier in Spanish-American & Philippine wars

Charles Goodwin Bickham was born August 12, 1867, in Dayton, Ohio, the youngest son of William D. Bickham and Maria (Strickle) Bickham (see also: W. D. Bickham sketch).

Charles G. Bickham, 1891

Charles G. Bickham, 1891

Charles G. Bickham was a career soldier.[1]

He served as a Colonel on the staff of Ohio Governor [and later president] William McKinley. During the Spanish-American War, he served as a Private in Company G, Third Regiment, Ohio National Guard, and later a Captain in the Ninth Regiment (Immunes), U.S. Volunteer Infantry.[2]

He served as a Captain during the Philippine Insurrection in the Twenty-eighth Regiment, U.S. Volunteer Infantry, under Col. William Birkhimer. After receiving his commission in the regular army as a Lieutenant, he served again in the Philippines with the Twenty-seventh U.S. Infantry under then-Captain John J. Pershing.[3]

C. G. Bickham was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor in 1904 for “distinguished gallantry” at the 1902 Battle of Bayang, Mindanao, Philippines. However, after twice failing the professional examination required for promotion to captain in 1909 and 1910, he was honorably discharged from the army in June 1910.

During his time in Cuba and the Philippines, Charles wrote several letters to family and friends, many of which his brother Daniel published in the Journal. Brother Abraham also served during the Spanish-American War. It is also worth mentioning that both Charles and Daniel Bickham were members of the Buzfuz Club.[4]

Charles G. Bickham died December 14, 1944, in Dayton, Ohio, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery. He never married.

Grave of Charles G. Bickham, Woodland Cemetery

Grave of Charles G. Bickham, Woodland Cemetery


[1] This collection contains scrapbooks with articles and memorabilia from Charles’ time in Cuba and the Philippines; see Boxes 4 and 5. For information on Charles’ military career in general, see Box 2, Folders 12 and 13. [LPR]

[2] The 9thRegiment,U.S. Volunteer Infantry was an African American regiment as well as an “Immunes” regiment. The Immunes regiments were made up of men from southern states, who were inaccurately believed to be immune to tropical diseases. [LPR] See: Brad K. Berner, The Spanish-American War: A Historical Dictionary (London: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1998), pp. 185-86; also, “9th U.S. Volunteer Infantry,” Spanish American War web site, http://www.spanamwar.com/9thUSvolinf.htm.

[3] John J. Pershing eventually rose to the rank of General and led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. [LPR]

[4] For more information on the Buzfuz Club, see: Charlotte Reeve Conover, Dayton, Ohio: An Intimate History (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1932), pp. 244-48.Dayton Local History 977.173 C753DAY 1932. [LPR]

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2011 for the Bickham Collection (MS-017) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654. Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection and in the citations below. Please contact the library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.

[This sketch was modified slightly from its original version to facilitate its separation from the larger Bickham Collection sketch. In its original form, C. G. Bickham’s birth and death information were included only in the W. D. Bickham sketch under the list of children.]

Important Note: I personally re-posted a large portion of this biographical sketch (including the photograph) on Charles G. Bickham’s Wikipedia page. Therefore, any similarity between this blog post, the original finding aid bio sketch, and the Wikipedia page, is due to the efforts of the original author (me), rather than an act of plagiarism.

*****

Bibliography & Further Reading

Bickham, William D. A Buckeye in the Land of Gold: The Letters and Journal of William Dennison Bickham. Edited by Randall E. Ham. Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1996. Dayton Local History 979.404 B583B 1996.

“Charles G. Bickham,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_G._Bickham.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve. Dayton, Ohio: An Intimate History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1932. Page 245. Dayton Local History 977.173 C753DAY 1932.

Conover, Frank. Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., 1897. “William Denison Bickham,” pages 403-404. Dayton Local History 977.172 C753C 1897.

Drury, Augustus Waldo. History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago; Dayton: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1909. Volume 1, pages 400-401. Dayton Local History 977.173 D796.

Foos, Katharine S. The Ellis Family. Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1900. Dayton Local History B92 E47F.

Santmyer, Helen Hooven. A Calendar of the Bickham Collection: Letters, Documents, and Mementoes of Possible Historical Interest. Dayton:Dayton Public Library, 1956. Dayton Local History 016.091 D276C.

MS-017 Bickham Collection:

  • Box2, Folder 15: Genealogical Notes on Bickham and Strickle Families.
  • Box2, Folder 14: C. G. Bickham: Letters concerning Military Career.

Bio Sketch: William D. Bickham (1827-1894), editor of the Dayton Journal

William Denison Bickham was born March 30, 1827, in Riverside (near Cincinnati), Ohio, the eldest of seven [surviving] children born to William Ard Bickham (ca. 1798-1845) and Eliza Dennison (1802-1893).

[The other children of William A. & Eliza Bickham were: John C. Bickham, who died in Evansville, Ind., but is buried in Dayton, Ohio; Thomas H. Yeatman Bickham (usually called “Yeatman”), who died in Findlay, Ohio; Emily Bickham, who married Austin Glazebrook and lived in Louisville, Ky.; Angeline Bickham, who married John W. Chapin and lived in Columbus, Ohio; Eliza Lida Bickham (often called “Lida”), who married Dr. John A. Lair, lived in Dayton some years, and died in Washington, D.C.; Mary Ella Bickham (usually called “Ella”), who married Abram Darst Wilt, Sr., and lived in Dayton, Ohio; and one who died in infancy.]

W. D. Bickham

W. D. Bickham

William D. Bickham attended both public and private schools in Cincinnati, as well as Cincinnati College and Bethany College (in present-day Bethany, West Virginia). However, William’s formal education ended abruptly in 1845 when his father died and he had to return home as head and financial supporter of the family.

At that time, William started a two-year apprenticeship with the Cincinnati Gazette, where he learned typesetting, and thus began his career in journalism. Afterwards, he worked as an editor at the Louisville Courier, but his family’s finances forced him to return to Cincinnati in 1848.

In the fall of 1848, William took a flatboat journey from Cincinnati to New Orleans and back with his brother John. In 1849, William worked as a clerk at a mercantile business.

Then, in March 1850, William set out for the California gold rush. He spent more than a year in the mines near Grass Valley in Nevada County, California; then, in 1852, he represented El Dorado County, California, at the state’s first Whig convention. Eventually, he settled in San Francisco, where he was a customs officer; one of the founders of San Francisco’s first public library and its first librarian; and was, at different times, an editor of several San Francisco newspapers: Picayune, Evening Journal, Evening Times, and Morning Ledger. Meanwhile, he also still wrote home to the Cincinnati Gazette, describing life in California.[1]

William did not strike it rich in the gold rush, and he returned home to Cincinnati in April 1854. For a time, he worked on the Cincinnati, Hamilton, & Dayton Railroad as a brakeman and later a baggage master. Before long, he was involved in journalism again. He was a correspondent for the Cincinnati Daily Columbian and later the Cincinnati Evening Times.

On December 27, 1855, William D. Bickham married Maria Emily Strickle (b. Dec. 1833) at the home of her parents, Abraham Ellis Strickle (1807-1863) and Caroline Goodwin (d. 1867), of Wilmington, Ohio (more on Strickle family). Maria’s father Abraham was the director of the Clinton County Fair, and William had most likely met the family while covering county fairs for theCincinnatinewspapers, which was one of his usual assignments.

By 1856, William had become city editor of the Cincinnati Commercial, under editor Murat Halstead. In this capacity, William was a correspondent of political news in Columbus and Washington, DC. This afforded him opportunities to meet many public figures who would later rise to even greater prominence as governors, congressmen, senators, cabinet members, and even presidents, several of whom remained in correspondence with him for years.[2]

When the Civil War broke out, William spent two years as a war correspondent on the front, sending his dispatches back to the Commercial. He was first assigned to General William Rosecrans’ army, where he was a volunteer aide-de-camp with the rank of captain.[3] He also spent several months with General George McClellan’s army, before being transferred back to Rosecrans. He was present at the Battle of Stones River, and Rosecrans’ praise for his actions there earned him the rank of major.[4]

Bickham's Civil War album and one of Bickham's first issues of the Journal

Bickham’s Civil War album and one of Bickham’s first issues of the Journal

While William was reporting from the field, matters on the home front in southwest Ohio were heating up. On May 5, 1863, General Ambrose Burnside arrested congressman and Dayton resident Clement Vallandingham on charges of sedition.

Arrest of Clement Vallandingham, 1863

Arrest of Clement Vallandingham, 1863

Vallandingham was one of the most vocal leaders of the Copperheads, a group of Democrats who opposed the war. In response to his arrest, a Copperhead mob burned down the Republican, pro-Union Dayton Journal newspaper office.

A group of pro-Union Daytonians formed a committee to restore the Journal and sought help from Cincinnati Commercial editor Halstead in finding a new editor for the Journal. Halstead recommended William D. Bickham. The committee offered Bickham the job, and he accepted, moving his family to Dayton.

Bickham took over the Journal on May 11, 1863, printing a small issue for the next several weeks until the main press was repaired. A sum of $6,000 was offered to Bickham as a gift to get the newspaper up and running again; he refused the gift but accepted it as a loan, which he paid off in less than 3 years.

First Brick house in Dayton (built in 1808) was converted to the Journal Office in 1863

First Brick house in Dayton (built in 1808) was converted to the Journal Office in 1863

The first regular issue of the Dayton Daily and Weekly Journal reappeared on July 28, 1863.

Of the delay and the reopening, Bickham wrote in his “Salutatory” in the July 28 issue:

The delay between the destruction of the old office and the issuance of the Journal in its present form, was unavoidable. Circumstances not within the publisher’s control retarded operations. Some of the conditions were of a private and afflicting nature—with which the public have no concern.[5] Explanations would therefore be superfluous. Suffice it that the Journal is once more before the community, and in handsome form. Let it be hoped that it will move forward uninterruptedly in a career of usefulness and prosperity…

The publisher begs leave to say further, that being desirous to rebuild the Journal upon the foundation laid by the former able Editor, Wm. F. Comly, Esq., he purchased the press of the old Journal office which the wretches of the Vallandingham tribe did not succeed in fully destroying, and the handsome Journal which you now read was printed upon that splendid machine, rebuilt and put into working condition since the fire…[6]

When the Journal reopened in July 1863, its offices were protected by two loaded cannons. Bickham himself was reportedly threatened with bodily harm on numerous occasions through the end of the war. Nevertheless, he stood firmly behind his Republican opinions and his newspaper, throughout the Civil War and through the end of his life.

Journal Office in 1876

Journal Office in 1876 – note the banner supporting (Republican) R. B. Hayes for President

William Denison Bickham died on March 27, 1894, at his home on Monument Avenue[7] in Dayton. On March 30, he was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. His wife Maria Strickle Bickham lived 30 more years, dying on October 17, 1924, in Dayton; she was also buried in Woodland Cemetery.

Maria and W. D. Bickham graves, Woodland Cemetery

Maria and W. D. Bickham graves, Woodland Cemetery

William D. Bickham and Maria E. Strickle had six children:

  1. William Strickle Bickham (born Nov. 22, 1856; died June 16, 1912), who moved toSpokane,Washington.
  2. Victor Hardy Bickham (born July 4, 1858; died June 22, 1865), who drowned.
  3. Abraham Strickle Bickham (born Aug. 28, 1860; died Jan. 7, 1929), who married Amelia Herr in 1900.
  4. Thomas Burns Bickham (born May 13, 1863; died June 19, 1863).
  5. Daniel Denison Bickham (born Oct. 31, 1864; died Mar. 3, 1951), who married Anna Stout in 1888, then later married Sylvia.
  6. Charles Goodwin Bickham (see sketch) (born Aug. 12, 1867; died Dec. 14, 1944), who never married.

After W. D. Bickham’s death, his sons Abraham, Daniel, and Charles continued to operate the Journal, until October 1, 1904, when the Journal’s ownership was transferred from private ownership to a stock company.

[Items in brackets are additions to this blog post that were not written in the original finding aid biographical sketch.]


[1] For a more thorough description of Bickham’s time in California, see: William D. Bickham, A Buckeye in the Land of Gold: The Letters and Journal of William Dennison Bickham, edited by Randall E. Ham (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1996).Dayton Local History 979.404 B583B 1996.

[2] Some of their correspondence is included in this collection. [LPR]

[3] Whitelaw Reid of the Cincinnati Gazette was also a war correspondent with Rosecrans at that time. [LPR]

[4] For more information about Bickham’s time with Rosecrans and the battle of Stones River, see: William D. Bickham, Rosecrans’ Campaign with the Fourteenth Army Corps: or, the Army of the Cumberland: A Narrative of Personal Observations with…Official Reports of the Battle of Stone River (Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys, & Co., 1863).Dayton Local History 973.7416 B583R. [LPR]

[5] Bickham is probably referring to the birth and death of his son Thomas Burns Bickham, who was born May 13, 1863, two days after Bickham had purchased the Journal, and died a month later on June 19, 1863. [LPR]

[6] W. D. Bickham, “Salutatory,” Dayton Journal, July 28, 1863.

[7] W. D. Bickham purchased the home at117 W. Monument Ave. from Dickenson P. Thruston in 1872. It remained in the Bickham family until 1927 when it was purchased by the Dayton YMCA, which demolished both the Bickham house and the Thresher house next-door to build a new YMCA building. [LPR]

W. D. Bickham residence (right), 117 W. Monument Ave.

W. D. Bickham residence (right), 117 W. Monument Ave.

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Dayton YMCA (now the Landing), 2012

In 1927, the a new YMCA was built on the site of the homes of W. D. Bickham and E. M. Thresher on Monument Ave; the YMCA is now known as The Landing. (Photo 2012)

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This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2011 for the Bickham Collection (MS-017) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654. Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection and in the citations below. Please contact the library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.

I have written a few additional blog posts about W. D. Bickham, including: “Bickham and the presidents” (Feb. 21, 2011) and “Civil War case exhibit, Bickham’s cartes de visite album” (Nov. 21, 2011).

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Bibliography & Further Reading

Bickham, William D. A Buckeye in the Land of Gold: The Letters and Journal of William Dennison Bickham. Edited by Randall E. Ham. Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1996. Dayton Local History 979.404 B583B 1996.

Bickham, William D. From Ohio to the Rocky Mountains: Editorial Correspondence of the Dayton (Ohio) Journal by William D. Bickham. Dayton: Journal Book and Job Printing House, 1879. Dayton Local History T78 B583.

Bickham, William D. Rosecrans’ Campaign with the Fourteenth Army Corps: or, the Army of the Cumberland: A Narrative of Personal Observations with…Official Reports of the Battle of Stone River. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys, & Co., 1863. Dayton Local History 973.7416 B583R.

Conover, Charlotte Reeve. Dayton, Ohio: An Intimate History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1932. Page 245. Dayton Local History 977.173 C753DAY 1932.

Conover, Frank. Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., 1897. “William Denison Bickham,” pages 403-404. Dayton Local History 977.172 C753C 1897.

Drury, Augustus Waldo. History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago; Dayton: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1909. Volume 1, pages 400-401. Dayton Local History 977.173 D796.

Foos, Katharine S. The Ellis Family. Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1900. Dayton Local History B92 E47F.

Hamilton, William J. Dayton Newspapers and their Editors: Selected from the Dayton Public Library Newspaper Files. Dayton:Dayton Public Library, 1937. Dayton Local History 071.7173 D276.

Santmyer, Helen Hooven. A Calendar of the Bickham Collection: Letters, Documents, and Mementoes of Possible Historical Interest. Dayton:Dayton Public Library, 1956. Dayton Local History 016.091 D276C.

The History of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1882. “Maj. William Denison Bickham,” Book 3, pages 191-192. Dayton Local History 977.172 H673.

MS-017 Bickham Collection:

  • Box1, Folder 5: Loyal Legion of theUnited States.
  • Box1, Folder 7: W.D. Bickham: Biographical Notes – OhioStateUniversity’s Schoolof Journalism Hall of Fame. Daniel D. Bickham, “Tribute to Wm. D. Bickham, Civil Wartime Editor,” The Ohio Newspaper 17:4 (Jan. 1937), pp. 5-7.
  • Box2, Folder 15: Genealogical Notes on Bickham and Strickle Families.
  • Box2, Folder 14: C. G. Bickham: Letters concerning Military Career.

Dayton Local History Resource (LHR) File. Dayton Metro Library.

Dayton Pamphlets File. Dayton Metro Library.

Civil War case exhibit, Bickham’s cartes de visite album

If you are interested in the Civil War and have a few minutes, please stop by the Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library (in the basement at Main). We currently have a case exhibit (well, three cases, actually) showcasing Civil War materials from the Dayton Collection. The exhibit will be up through the end of 2011.

This is my favorite portion of the exhibit:

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

The young man in uniform on the upper right is Howard Forrer; the shoulder boards were his. You’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the future. (I haven’t forgotten that I promised to tell you some Civil War stories; it’s just that they’re still “stewing” and haven’t fully formed yet.)

The copy of the Dayton Daily Journal (May 6, 1863) is the first issue published by W. D. Bickham after taking over as editor of the paper, following the burning of the Journal office by a mob in response to the arrest of Copperhead leader (and Daytonian) Clement Vallandingham. (There is actually a picture of him in the case as well; I’ll share a little more about him in another post, in a day or two.)

Last but certainly not least, you’ll notice the large album at the bottom of the photo. This album belonged to W. D. Bickham and contains cartes de visite he collected during the Civil War era, many depicting famous politicians and generals. For instance, the page currently open shows off a photo of none other than President Abraham Lincoln, plus Generals Winfield Scott, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas (all 3 on the opposite page).

The Bickham cartes de visite album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017), which I processed. This was my first experience with this type of archival item. Obviously, I had seen cartes de visite before. I recognized them as a small, mid-19th-century type of albumen photograph. But as yet, I had only worked with family photo collections wherein all the cartes de visite were from friends or relatives. But this had to be something different; the majority of the images in the album are of famous people like Lincoln, Sheridan, Bragg, John Clem (aka Johnny Shiloh), just to name a few. While Bickham did have many famous (or later-famous) contacts due to his profession as a journalist, I seriously doubted that he had been given all of these photos personally.

As it turns out, it was extremely common during that era for people to collect cartes de visite in a manner similar to how one might collect baseball cards. The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian has an excellent blog post [“Civil War Portraits: Where Personal and Public Meet,” Oct. 3, 2011] discussing this practice. They also have a YouTube video [“Civil War Portraits: Personal and Public,” Sept. 25, 2011] to go along with it. This was a great help to me in understanding what I was actually looking at, in the case of the Bickham Album.

I hope you’ll come down and see us and check out our exhibit. Although the Bickham Album is currently on display in a locked case, you can browse its contents online anytime on our Flickr page. I scanned each individual photo and added them to the set Bickham Civil War Album. There are several unidentified individuals — probably famous politicians or generals that I just don’t happen to recognize (we can’t all know everything!) — so if you see any marked unidentified and know who it is, please leave a comment to help us out.

The collections discussed here are publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. For more information on the collection, contact the library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.

The Bickham Civil War Album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017). The Howard Forrer photograph is from the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018). Other items shown are from various parts of the Dayton Collection; contact librarian (i.e., me, or the library!) for info on specific items.

Oh! One more thing:  Just so you know, I did not create this Civil War exhibit, although I did suggest the inclusion of the Bickham scrapbook and the Howard Forrer photo and shoulder boards. The majority of the exhibit (like, 99%!) was done by our lovely and talented Local History Specialist, Nancy Horlacher. The other two cases, which I have not photographed, include materials pertaining to the Dayton Soldiers’ Home and the 131st O.V.I. (a regiment made up primarily of men from Dayton).

Manuscripts crossovers

I could write a list of reasons why my job rocks. (Hmm, that sounds like a new category of blog entries, just waiting to happen…) After all, I get to preserve and organize history. I get to read history written in people’s own words, as they were living it. (That email to your sister where you complain about the falling value of your house or the rising prices of gas and food? That’s going to be “history” someday. Something to think about…)

Arranging and describing a stand-alone manuscript collection (so people know what is there and where exactly to find it) is generally pretty darn cool, in an of itself. And there are always “tasty nuggets” to be found.

But I think one of the coolest things in processing is when you get “crossover” between collections. By that I mean, you have collections where the people reference each other; or they both talk about the same event or person. I think I enjoy finding those things because it shows that history is not really linear; it’s not cut and dry. It’s more like a web – of people, places, things, events, movements. It’s actually fluid, and it’s expanding in every direction.

Now that I’ve made your head explode with depth, let me get down to the nitty-gritty of some of the crossovers I’ve found recently in the Dayton Metro Library manuscript collections.

Earlier today, as I was processing the Lowe Papers (MS-009), I came across several folders of newspaper clippings. In one, the Cincinnati Commercial boasted of having a first-hand account of the Battle of Murfreesboro, as reported by their correspondent “W. D. B.” I had to grin. He wasn’t named, but I knew that W. D. B. was William D. Bickham, a Commercial correspondent and later editor of the Dayton Journal. How did I know? Because I just finished processing the Bickham Collection (MS-017) a few weeks ago!

In an opposite crossover between the two collections, the Bickham Collection contains a newspaper clipping noting that Manorah Lowe (mother of Thomas; widow of John W.) had been made the first “postmistress” of Xenia.

These two collections, as well as another Civil War collection, the Schaeffer Papers (MS-020) make mention of Dayton congressman and well-known Copperhead Clement Vallandingham. (What good Dayton area Civil War collection could get by without at least mentioning him? I mean, come on.)

I suppose I should not be surprised at these types of crossovers. After all, if you take two collections that focus on the same time period and geographic location, you are bound to have some overlap; that just seems logical. And yet, I still get excited about it when I find one.

I think the earlier you go, particularly in Dayton history, the more likely you are to find these types of connections, too. For instance, the population of Dayton in 1860 was only about 20,000 people. In 1820, there were only about 1,100 people in Dayton. Which is why perusing DML’s Van Cleve-Dover Collection (MS-006) and Brown-Patterson Collection (MS-015) is so much fun. Both of these collections contain many documents from Dayton’s earliest days, so you do see a lot of the same people’s names over and over again, which I find strangely comforting and friendly (and exciting) even though these people lived about 200 years ago. (Early 19th century Ohio history has long been of interest to me, with the frontier settlement and all. Those two collections include many useful documents for that era of study. I also have a special affinity for the John Johnston Farm in Piqua – and by the way, there are several Johnston letters in the Brown-Patterson collection.)

And of course, these are just some examples of the “crossovers” you can find within the Dayton Metro Library’s collections. That’s not even taking into account all the different collections at other institutions.

Historians are probably out there shaking their heads, thinking, Lisa, you nut; this is what we do all the time. We go out and look for all the resources we can find on a particular person, place, thing, event, movement, etc., so we can write about it. Maybe I just think of it differently because of the difference in what I’m trying to do when I “find” these connections. I usually find them in the course of processing an individual collection. I’m just working with that collection, trying to get a grip on what is in it, why it’s important, how to arrange and describe it so that people (*cough*historians/researchers*cough*) can find what they need/want in it (if it’s there!). And then I will happen upon something that reminds me of something I saw in another collection. I wasn’t looking for it; I just remember seeing something like it somewhere else.

In any event, I think these little “crossovers” are fun, so I thought I’d share a few of them with you. I’m sure there are many others. But I tend to notice the ones in collections I myself processed. You don’t always notice them unless you have waded through the entire collection yourself.

The collections discussed here are publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. For more information on the collection, contact the library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.

Bickham and the presidents

In honor of Presidents’ Day (which is today), I’m going to share a little about a collection I’m processing (at the Dayton Metro Library) that has presidential ties.

For the past several months, I have been processing and creating a finding aid for the Bickham Collection (MS-017), which primarily consists of letters and news clippings pertaining to William Denison Bickham (1827-1894), the editor of the Dayton Journal newspaper from 1863 until his death.

W. D. Bickham

W. D. Bickham

The Journal was Republican in its politics, and after the arrest of Copperhead [anti-war Democrat] leader and Dayton congressman Clement Vallandingham, an angry mob set fire to the Journal office on May 5, 1863. (Read more about it.) The man who stepped up to the challenge of rebuilding (literally) the Journal was William Denison Bickham, a young war correspondent for the Cincinnati Commercial. The new Journal office would be at 25 N. Main (view photo) from 1864-1881. Bickham was said to have endured many threats for the things he wrote, but he never backed down.

What does this newspaper editor have to do with Presidents’ Day, you might be wondering. Well, I’m sure this will come as a shock, but politicians like to war with each other through the press, by writing letters and making sure their contents got printed.

(I say this only about half-sarcastically, because honestly, the idea of politicians attacking each other via the newspaper was something that I never really thought about until I was assigned to read Joanne Freeman’s Affairs of Honor in an Early American Republic course in 2003 – thanks, Dr. Wachtell! The book covers a much earlier period, but the sentiment is the same.)

But back to Bickham and the presidents. Depending on your specific criteria, Ohio lays claim to seven or eight U.S. Presidents. The problem lies with William Henry Harrison, who was actually born in Virginia; the other seven – Grant, Hayes, Garfield, B. Harrison, McKinley, Taft, and Harding were all born in Ohio. Interestingly enough – something I guess I never noticed until today – all of those seven Ohio-born presidents were from the Republican party. [W. H. Harrison is an outlier in this category as well – he was a Whig, but that’s really just an “early Republican.”] Of the seven Ohio-born presidents, four served during the period when Bickham was editor of the Journal, and the other three were already active in Republican politics.

Again, what does this have to do with Bickham? Well, upon digging into the Bickham Collection last year, I had no idea what the collection was about or who W. D. Bickham was. It was just “on my list” of things to do. Sure, I’d heard about the mob burning the Journal office after the Clement Vallandingham arrest, and yeah, I knew the Journal must have started up again because it existed until, what, the 1980s? But believe it or not, your local history librarians don’t just “know” everything there is to know about local history. Even we have to look things up. A lot. Shocking, I know.

So not knowing what the collection was about, imagine my surprise – and awe – when I found folders (it was semi-processed) labeled James A. Garfield, Warren G. Harding, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley — containing actual letters from those people! Wow – cool stuff. There are also quite a few letters from some “less famous” late-19th century politicians – mostly Republican – mostly from Ohio. There are letters from several Ohio governors; a handful from Cincinnatian Salmon P. Chase; there are many from John Sherman, a U.S. Congressman and later U.S. Senator from Lancaster, Ohio – and younger brother of Civil War General William T. Sherman.

In most cases, these men wrote to Bickham in order to “share their views” with him – and in most cases, that meant, Please publish my views in your newspaper, kthanks. I found some examples in this collection of the original letter, as well as a copy of the news clipping where he had printed the contents.

If they didn’t want Bickham to publish what they wrote, they would mark the letter as “private” at the top. It seems a little strange that they would write these “private” letters, but I suppose he probably developed real friendships with some of the men. Or perhaps they wanted Bickham to understand their position or actions (so he would keep supporting them!) but weren’t ready to share it with the world yet.

The Bickham Collection is not very large – about 1 linear foot of manuscripts plus several scrapbooks (2 of which pertain to Bickham’s son Charlie’s military service in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection). However, what it lacks in volume, it makes up for in richness and quality. This collectino is just full of gem after gem. I hold history in my hands every day, but some things just make you feel…privileged.

For the record, Dayton Metro Library does not restrict access to any materials based on perceived research “value.” Our collections are available for use by all. But for sure, any serious researcher of Ohio Republican politics in the late 19th century really shouldn’t miss this collection.