Tag Archives: civil war

Intersects of History (or, a Tale of Freaky Coincidence)

History is full of intersections. The “story” of…well, everything…really is like this giant tapestry woven out of the lives and choices of people (all people), the occurrence of events, the development and course of ideas, and the circumstances of place, time, and situation. Some of the intersections of all these things can be fairly obvious, expected, or downright sequitur. And sometimes they’re not.

And sometimes, you are working in the Archives, minding your own business, churning out the day’s work—some of which, on this particular day, is rather unusual, versus what you normally do at your job on a daily basis—and you suddenly run across an intersection among two things you would have expected to be completely unrelated, and it gives you the goosebumps…

I had one of those days on Tuesday, September 17. Let me explain. (Bear with me on the “job duties” part.)

One of my primary job duties as Archivist for Digital Initiatives & Outreach at the Wright State University Special Collections & Archives is to manage and coordinate the use of social media for sharing the Archives and our collections with the world. Among the social media channels that we use for this are a couple of blogs (Out of the Box and Dayton Daily News Archive) and Facebook and Twitter (the latter two being recent additions – if you haven’t yet, you should go check them out and like/follow them! *notevensubtlehinthint*).

Part of what I do with these social media channels is plan their content. We post all kinds of things, but many times, I like to try to coordinate the social media content with a particular time period, date, or event in history. I love “today in history” posts—if we can think of them—and if they pertain to our “stuff” or our collecting areas (aviation, local history, WSU history).

So, that all being said…let’s get back to my freaky experience on September 17, which, let’s face it, is why you clicked on this post in the first place.

September 17, 1908, is widely recognized as the date of the first fatality from a powered airplane crash. (OK, maybe “widely recognized” isn’t exactly true, but everyone who works in aviation history knows this story! Or they should…) Orville Wright was demonstrating his airplane to the military at Ft. Myer, Va., when the plane crashed, injuring Orville and killing his passenger, 26-year-old Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge.

2013-09-17_selfridgetweet

I had this on the calendar to mention on September 17 for a while, and so I did so in the above tweet. (Later in the day, we also posted a great blog post written by my supervisor Dawne about the crash and about Orville’s sister Katharine. You should check it out; plus, it has more pictures!)

OK, so…that all being done, I turned to some other tasks on my plate. One of those tasks was to either locate, or otherwise procure, transcripts of a few Civil War letters from our Wallace Collection (MS-92). Long story short, when transcripts of the Civil War correspondence of William McKinney were made, somehow a couple of letters were apparently missed. This was noticed during the migration of digital versions of the letters (and transcripts) from one system to another, and we really wanted to have ALL the transcripts ready (better for access purposes because transcripts are keyword searchable, handwritten letters are not) before the formal launch of the new system.

SO, not being able to locate any existing transcripts for these two particular letters, I located the original letters, took a look, decided that the handwriting was pretty legible and that they shouldn’t take too long to transcribe, and sat down to transcribe those few items myself, so I could get them over to the Digital folks ASAP.

One of the letters I transcribed was this letter from William McKinney to his cousin Martha McKinney, circa 1862. (You can see the original handwritten letter as well as my now-completed-and-posted transcription if you click that link. Or you can take my word for things. Aren’t original documents grand? You don’t have to take my word for it; you can see the original evidence. But I digress…)

I had a bit of trouble with a particular line on the last page of the letter where the paper had been creased right through a line of text, so it was particularly worn and faded. William had been describing some of the sights during a recent stroll through Nashville, and he mentioned coming across one of the (Union) iron-clad ships, the…Carro…Cairo…what does that say? I wondered.

2013-09-17_thecairo

Snippet from William McKinney to Martha McKinney, ca. 1862, from MS-92 Wallace Family Papers, item # ms92_9_4_08, Wright State University Special Collections & Archives.

“Cairo” made more sense, but I wanted to be sure, so I Googled it to make sure. And the first thing that seemed promising was a National Park Service web site for the U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat and Museum in Vicksburg, MS. From this site I learned the thing I needed to know—that the word on the page was in fact “Cairo.”

I also learned that the U.S.S. Cairo was sunk in the Yazoo River in December 1862. I learned that it was raised again (in pieces) in the 1960s and eventually turned into a museum.

But, mostly fascinatingly…and strangely…I learned that the skipper in command of the U.S.S. Cairo was one Lt. Cmdr. Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr.

Yes, I “encountered” two historical figures named Thomas Selfridge on the same day—one of which being rather expected as I knew about that anniversary, the other being a complete surprise.

And if that wasn’t strange enough…then I was curious. Though I don’t have the stats to back this up, I’d wager that Selfridge isn’t a terribly common name. Well, it’s certainly not like if I had run across two “John Smith”s or something, anyway! I wondered if they were related…the Thomas Selfridge who commanded an iron-clad for the Union in 1862 and the Thomas Selfridge who died in a plane crash in 1908.

I didn’t have far to look to find that, indeed, they were. All it took was a quick trip by Wikipedia. Thankfully, the site is rife with pages about military men, whether they were super-duper important like Robert E. Lee or more of a blip on history’s screen (or a footnote on the page, if you’re a little more old-school).

Thomas Ethelon Selfridge (now I want to know where that middle name came from!), 1882-1908, the casualty in Orville’s plane crash at Ft. Myer, was the son of the Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Oliver Selfridge, Jr., 1836-1924. Another weird point of coincidence? Both men were 26 at the time of the history intersects described in this little story (the plane crash and the U.S.S. Cairo sinking).

And here’s the thing that makes me really wonder: How on Earth did I just happen across these two things on the same day? I mean, what the hell, Universe? It’s so bizarre.

On any other day of the year, I wouldn’t even spend too much time thinking about Thomas E. Selfridge (sorry, mate), but on September 17, it’s the obvious choice for a “today in history” about aviation.

And I don’t normally do manuscript transcription…ever. Heck, there are plenty of days (even whole weeks) where I don’t even so much as handle an actual manuscript, because the primary functions of my position don’t always require it. But on this particular day, I not only got to work with an original manuscript—a handwritten 19th century letter, no less, which is some of my favorite “stuff”—but I got to read it…really read it…as a legitimate work activity, because somebody had to do that transcript ASAP, and it might as well be me!

And none of it had (seemingly) anything to do with each other. The tasks were unrelated. The collections were unrelated. Even the reason we HAVE those two particular collections was completely unrelated. The Archives has items pertaining to the Selfridge crash fatality because of our focus on aviation history and the Wright Brothers. The Wallace Family Papers (MS-92), where William McKinney’s Civil War letter came from, is part of our collection because of its local history significance (the family lived in Clark County, which is one of the counties about which we collect local history).

You know I could go on and on. I have gone on and on. (If you read this far, I should bake you cookies. Er, no, biscotti: they’re the only cookies I can consistently make well because they’re meant to be hard.)

I should stop wondering, stop being surprised when I find bits of history that are related, even if they initially seemed so…completely unrelated. My husband is one of those people who likes to say “everything happens for a reason.”

Maybe sometimes the Universe just wants to remind us that all of history is woven together in one big story, driving the point home by showing you the relationship between two things you never would have guessed had any ties to each other.

Whatever it was, what an interesting day!

Advertisements

Bio Sketch: Howard Forrer (1841-1864), 63rd O.V.I. Civil War

Howard Forrer was born on November 11, 1841, in Dayton, Ohio, the youngest child (and only son, by the time of his birth) of Samuel Forrer (1793-1874) and Sarah Howard (1807-1887).[1]

Howard Forrer, undated

Howard Forrer, undated (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 6, Folder 16)

Howard graduated in 1858 from Central High School in Dayton.[2] He was “an excellent scholar, and was always at the head of his classes, beloved by his teachers, and respected and honored by his classmates.”[3]

Although his career plan was to become a civil engineer (like his father), Howard accepted a position as an assistant teacher at the Second District School, which was located on Perry Street between First and Second, a couple of blocks from the Forrer family’s home at the southeast corner of First and Ludlow. Howard held this position from about 1860 until he joined the army in 1862.[4]

Howard Forrer, undated

Howard Forrer, undated (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 6, Folder 16)

Apparently beginning in the late spring of 1862, Howard began participating in recruitment efforts for the 112th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in which he enlisted. In August, he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the 112th and went with the “Squirrel Hunters” to Kentucky during Kirby Smith’s invasion.[5]

In November 1862, the 112th regiment, which had not been filled, was consolidated with the 63rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiment. At that time, Howard was appointed Adjutant of the 63rd Ohio and served in that capacity thenceforth until July 1864.[6]

Howard Forrer in his Civil War uniform

Howard Forrer in his Civil War uniform

In May of 1864, the 63rd Ohio was assigned to Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. During the Battle of Atlanta, fought at Decatur, Georgia, on July 22, 1864, Howard was fatally shot in the neck and died almost instantly; he was 22 years old. [Howard died 148 years ago today.] Due to the ongoing battle, his body was not able to be recovered immediately. When his regiment returned the following day to retrieve his body, they found that he had already been buried by the locals near the spot where he had fallen, about 150-175 yards southwest of the county courthouse on the property of Benjamin F. Swanton.[7]

After receiving the horrific news of the death of his only son, Samuel Forrer began efforts to retrieve Howard’s body from Georgia. Due to the ongoing war and the condition of the roads in Georgia, this was not possible for more than a year after Howard’s death. In September 1865, Samuel finally received special permission from Major General George H. Thomas to disinter Howard’s body and have it brought to Dayton, provided this was done after October 15, and that the body be shipped in a metallic coffin.[8]

[For more on Howard’s Civil War service, see “A Tale of Two Howards” here on my blog.]

The remains of Howard Forrer finally returned to Dayton on November 13, 1865. He was buried on November 14, 1865, in Woodland Cemetery, in Dayton, Ohio.[9]

Howard Forrer's grave in Woodland Cemetery, Section 102

Howard Forrer’s grave in Woodland Cemetery, Section 102 (Photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2012 for the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) 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. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original PDF finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry, or the WorldCat record.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.


[1] Forrer Genealogical Data, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 7:12, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio); Frank Bruen, Christian Forrer, the Clockmaker, and his Descendants (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1939), 140. See also FPW, Series I: Samuel Forrer Family.

[2] Brief History of the Alumni of Central High School, Dayton, Ohio (Dayton, OH: Alumni Association of Central High School, 1887), vol. 1, 16.

[3] “Death of Adjutant Howard Forrer,” Dayton Daily Journal, 2 Aug. 1864, in Howard Forrer: Obituaries, FPW, 6:15.

[4] “Death of Adjutant Howard Forrer,” FPW, 6:15; Dayton City Directories, 1860-1863.

[5] “Death of Adjutant Howard Forrer,” FPW, 6:15; Sarah H. (Howard) Forrer to her daughters Mary FORRER (later Peirce) and Augusta (FORRER) Bruen, at Fort Hamilton, New York, 1862 (several letters), FPW, 4:5; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition.

[6] “Death of Adjutant Howard Forrer,” FPW, 6:15; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “112th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry,” Ohio Civil War Central, accessed 19 Sept. 2011, http://ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=580.

[7] “63rd Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia, accessed 19 Sept. 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/63rd_Ohio_Infantry; The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 38, Part 3 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1891), 516-517; “Death of Adjutant Howard Forrer,” 1864, FPW, 6:15; Maps showing the location of the burial place of Howard Forrer, Howard Forrer: Documents concerning Army Career and Death, FPW, 6:12.

[8] A. C. Fenner to Samuel Forrer, 11 Jan. 1865, Howard Forrer: Documents concerning Army Career and Death, FPW, 6:12; J. G. Parkhurst to Samuel Forrer, 25 Sept. 1865, Howard Forrer: Documents concerning Army Career and Death, FPW, 6:12.

[9] “The Lamented Howard Forrer,” Dayton Daily Journal, 14 Nov. 1865; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. Howard is buried in Section 102, Lot 1348.

Bio Sketch: David W. Schaeffer (~1825-1894), 35th O.V.I. Civil War

David W. Schaeffer was born about 1825 or 1826 in Germantown, Montgomery County, Ohio. On April 2, 1850, in Montgomery County, Ohio, he married Frances Sophia Browning (born about 1826).

David and Frances had four sons:

  1. Walter B. Schaeffer (born Jan. 1851; died June 11, 1936);
  2. Arthur David Schaeffer (born about 1853; died Mar. 31, 1918);
  3. Harry F. Schaeffer (born Oct. 29, 1854; died Oct. 7, 1931); and
  4. Clarence E. Schaeffer (born about 1857; died Apr. 27, 1861).

According to Dayton city directories, David’s occupation prior to the Civil War included being a clerk (1850, 1860-61), as well as later (1856-1859) operating with his brother Valentine a staple and fancy dry goods store, which was located on the east side of Main between Second and Third.

After the Civil War broke out, David responded to the call for troops. David enlisted in the Union Army on September 15, 1861, signing up for three years of service.

Signature of David W. Schaeffer, from a letter to his family, 29 Aug. 1861

Signature of David W. Schaeffer, from a letter to his family, 29 Aug. 1861

He was mustered in to the Thirty-fifth Ohio Infantry, Company I, on September 24, 1861, at Camp Chase. As a private, he was transferred to Company H, Thirty-fifty Ohio Infantry. He was appointed a first sergeant, and on October 24, 1862, was promoted to second lieutenant. On March 19, 1864, he became a first lieutenant, and on September 8, 1864, he was made captain.

Sgt. D. W. Schaeffer named in Recruitment ad for 35th O.V.I., Aug. 1862

Sgt. D. W. Schaeffer named in Recruitment ad for 35th O.V.I., Dayton Daily Journal, 25 Aug. 1862

The majority of this collection consists of correspondence between David and his wife Frances, as well as their sons, during David’s time in the Union Army, from 1861 to 1864. He describes several of the battles in which he participated. His unit participated in the following battles:

  • Siege of Corinth (Mississippi), April 30, 1862;
  • Perryville (Kentucky), Oct. 8, 1862;
  • Tullahoma (Tennessee) campaign, June 23-30, 1863;
  • Chickamauga (Georgia), Sept. 19-20, 1863;
  • Missionary Ridge (Tennessee), Nov. 25, 1863;
  • Buzzards Roost (Georgia), Feb. 25 and 27, 1864;
  • Dalton (Georgia), May 9, 1864;
  • Resaca (Georgia), May 13-16, 1864;
  • Kennesaw Mountain (Georgia), June 30, 1864;
  • Pine Mountain (Georgia), June 14, 1864;
  • Pine Knob (Georgia), June 19, 1864; and
  • Peach Tree Creek (Georgia), July 20, 1864.

David was mustered out of the army on September 27, 1864, at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Shortly after his return home, his wife Frances died of typhoid on November 21, 1864.

On December 14, 1865, in Montgomery County, Ohio, David married Catherine Starr (born June 3, 1829), whose first husband Henry Link had died in 1858. Catherine had one son, Oscar Link (born about 1852). David and Catherine had three sons of their own:

  1. Charles W. Schaeffer (born Jan. 20, 1867; died Oct. 31, 1933);
  2. George Starr Schaeffer (born Nov. 3, 1869; died Feb. 11, 1918); and
  3. Willie Schaeffer (born about Sept. 1871; died Mar. 29, 1872).

[Charles and George Schaeffer were actively involved in the Stillwater Canoe Club. Many photos of the club – and the brothers – can be found in the Dayton Metro Library digital collections.]

After the Civil War, David was a collector for the Internal Revenue Service (1866-1869), and by 1870 he had become an insurance agent, selling both fire and life insurance, an occupation he continued right up until his death. The family was active in the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, where David was an officer.

For many years, from at least the mid-1850s until after David’s death in 1894, the Schaeffer family home was located on the southeast corner of Ludlow Street and Water Street (Monument Avenue). It was originally numbered 6 Ludlow Street but was later changed to 240 N. Ludlow Street. As of 2011, the Chase Bank drive-through is now located on the former site of the Schaeffer home.

David W. Schaeffer home, 240 N. Ludlow, is the large house on the corner (far left) of this photo.

David W. Schaeffer home, 240 N. Ludlow, is the large house on the corner (far left) of this photo.

.

Chase Bank, southeast corner of Ludlow and Monument, on site of former D. W. Schaeffer home (Photo 2012)

Chase Bank, southeast corner of Ludlow and Monument, on site of former D. W. Schaeffer home (Photo 2012)

David W. Schaeffer died on September 5, 1894, in Dayton, Ohio. His second wife Catherine Starr Schaeffer died on February 5, 1909, in Dayton. David and both of his wives are buried in Woodland Cemetery, in Dayton, Ohio.

Tombstone of David W. Schaeffer in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio

Tombstone of David W. Schaeffer in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2011 for the Schaeffer Papers (MS-020) 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. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original PDF finding aid; the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry; or the WorldCat record.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.

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]

*****

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.

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.

.

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)

*****

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).

*****

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.

Bio Sketch: Thomas O. Lowe (1838-1922), lawyer and Copperhead in Dayton, Ohio

Thomas Owen Lowe was born February 11, 1838, in Batavia, Clermont County, Ohio, the eldest son of John W. Lowe and Manorah Fishback.

Beginning in 1851, Tom attended Farmers College, until his father’s financial situation forced his withdrawal from the school in 1854. For a short time thereafter, Tom worked briefly as a bank clerk at Ellis & Sturges bank in Cincinnati. Then, in 1855, he accompanied his father to Dayton.

In the summer of 1855, Tom abruptly moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked as a bank clerk at the W. B. Shepherd bank. He eventually took a clerk position at a different bank, the Bank of Middle Tennessee in nearby Lebanon, where he remained until the summer of 1857.[1]

Upon his return to Dayton in July 1857, Tom again obtained employment as a bank clerk, at the Harshman and Winters Bank. Tom had corresponded regularly with Martha Harshman, daughter of one of the bank proprietors, during his time in Tennessee. And on November 10, 1857, Thomas Lowe and Martha Harshman (born October 1837), daughter of Jonathan Harshman Jr. and Abigail Hivling, were married in Montgomery County, Ohio. The newlyweds lived with the bride’s parents for a few months until their new home at 105 Main Street was ready; they moved into the house at 105 Main on May 27, 1858, according to Tom’s “Miscellany.”

Tom and Martha would live at 105 Main until sometime shortly before 1871, when they moved to 29 W. Fourth Street, where they lived until about 1877. From about 1877 to about 1880, they lived at 326 W. First Street. From about 1880 to about 1883, they lived at “Old No. 5 Main” (225 N. Main), and from about 1883 to 1885, they lived at 316 W. Monument Avenue.

Thomas and Martha had four children:

  1. Abbie Lowe (born October 7, 1858; died October 25, 1860);
  2. John Williamson Lowe (born October 4, 1861; died September 27, 1917), who never married and lived in Chicago;
  3. Jeannetta Lowe (born April 20, 1863; died October 5, 1869); and
  4. Nora Lowe (born March 1869; died January 20, 1958), who married Ralph Rappe McKee and lived in New York.

Although he worked in banks until the age of 34, Tom was long a student of law, first studying under his father John Lowe. He roomed with a law student while living in Lebanon, Tennessee, and he continued his law studies upon returning to Dayton. Thomas Lowe was admitted to the bar in February 1859 but continued in the banking business until May 1862, when he began his law practice.

During the Civil War, Tom disagreed with the war on several grounds, for which reason he was considered a “Copperhead,” or “Peace Democrat.” Fellow Daytonian Clement Vallandingham was the best known Copperhead. After Vallandingham’s arrest in May 1863, Tom decided that it might be prudent to spend the summer in Europe, lest he meet the same fate, since his views were also widely known. Tom returned to Dayton in the fall of 1863.

Letter from Thomas O. Lowe to the Dayton Journal, May 1863

Letter from Thomas O. Lowe to the Dayton Journal (the Republican newspaper), May 1863. (See also pg 2.)

On January 1, 1864, Tom was appointed to fill a vacancy as Montgomery County Auditor; he remained in this post until March 1865, at which time he returned to his law practice. He continued to practice law until he was elected Judge of the Superior Court of Montgomery County in October 1870. When his term expired in July 1876, he again resumed his law practice at the northeast corner of Third and Jefferson.

Tom was a member of the Presbyterian Church from his early life onward. In the early 1870s, he became increasingly active in religious activities, especially in the YMCA. In April 1884, Tom became a licensed minister of the Presbyterian Church, and at that time he seems to have given up his law practice and was solely a clergyman thenceforth.

The 1884-1885 city directory is the first entry to list Thomas O. Lowe as “Rev.” and without any other occupation. Tom is not listed in the 1884-1885 Dayton city directory or thereafter, so it may have been about that time that he and Martha moved to Richmond County, New York, where their daughter Nora Lowe McKee lived.

Thomas O. Lowe died September 2, 1922, at Staten Island, New York. His wife Martha Harshman had died March 2, 1900, at New Brighton, New York. Thomas and Martha Lowe are buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

Thomas Lowe family is listed on the back of Jonathan Harshman's marker (Thomas's father-in-law)

Thomas Lowe family is listed on the back of Jonathan Harshman’s marker (Thomas’s father-in-law)

.

 

Thomas Owen Lowe and Martha (Harshman) Lowe on Harshman tombstone

Thomas Owen Lowe and Martha (Harshman) Lowe on Harshman tombstone

 

.

Thomas Owen Lowe, Woodland Cemetery (individual headstone)

Thomas Owen Lowe, Woodland Cemetery (individual headstone)

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in July 2011 for the Lowe Collection (MS-009) 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 Thomas O. Lowe, including: “Tom Lowe considers Civil War Service” (13 May 2011) and “Tom Lowe on Becoming a Father” (17 May 2011).

*****

Bibliography & Further Reading

Becker, Carl M. “The Genesis of a Copperhead.” Bulletin of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio 19, no. 4 (Oct. 1961): 235-253. [Dayton B L913B.]

Becker, Carl M. “John William Lowe: Failure in Inner-Direction.” Ohio History 73, no. 2 (1964): 75-89.

Becker, Carl M. “Picture of a Young Copperhead.” Ohio History 71 (1962): 3-23. [Dayton B L913BP.]

Becker, Carl M. Tom Lowe: A Lesser Angel. [Oxford, OH]: Miami University, 1958. [Dayton B L913BT.]

Broadstone, Michael A., editor. History of Greene County, Ohio: Its People, Industries, and Institutions. Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen, 1918. Vol. 1, pp. 653-656. [Genealogy Reference 977.174 H673B.]

Drury, Augustus Waldo. History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago; Dayton: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1909. Vol. 1, pp. 479, 781; Vol. 2, pp. 937-938. [Dayton 977.173 D796.]

The History of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1882. Book 3, pp. 222-223. [Dayton 977.172 H673.]

Lowe, John W. [Letters of John W. Lowe] [microform]. [Dayton B L9134AA.]

“Lowe Papers.” LHR File. Local History Room, Dayton Metro Library.

“Lowe, Thomas Owen.” LHR File. Local History Room, Dayton Metro Library.

Obituary of Thomas O. Lowe. Dayton Journal, September 10, 1922.


[1] It has been argued that Thomas Lowe’s time in the South contributed to the evolution of his opinions and attitudes that would later label him as a “Copperhead.” (See Bibliography: Carl M. Becker, “The Genesis of a Copperhead.”)

Bio Sketch: John W. Lowe (1809-1861), 12th O.V.I. Civil War

John W. Lowe was born in 1809 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a son of James Baronhuysen Lowe and Catherine Kennon. John’s mother died about 1813, and his father died in 1821 in New York. At that point, 12-year-old John became the primary breadwinner for his stepmother and siblings. His childhood was marked by trauma and hardship.

Around 1833, John left New York and settled in Batavia, Clermont County, Ohio, which is near Cincinnati. His early employment efforts centered around painting, but by 1835 he was studying law under Thomas Hamer, a U.S. Congressman and lawyer at Georgetown, a village about 24 miles from Batavia. John W. Lowe was admitted to the bar in 1836.

In 1837, John married Manorah Fishback (born circa 1819 in Ohio), daughter of well-known Clermont County lawyer and politician Owen T. Fishback and his wife Caroline Huber. John and Manorah had three children:

  1. Thomas Owen Lowe (born February 11, 1838), who will be discussed in greater detail later in this sketch;
  2. William R. Lowe (born about 1843); and
  3. Catharine K. Lowe (born 1850), who married William Stitt and later died of consumption on October 20, 1872.

Despite his connection to the influential lawyer Owen Fishback, John’s law practice was not particularly profitable. His connection to Thomas Hamer, however, had afforded him an opportunity to befriend the family of Jesse Grant of Georgetown, for whose son Ulysses Grant was recommended for West Point by Hamer.

During the Mexican War, young Ulysses Grant wrote a letter to John, suggesting that Lowe seek a military command to serve in Mexico with the volunteers. A number of factors contributed to Lowe’s decision to follow Grant’s suggestion, and in September 1847, he joined the Second Ohio Infantry Regiment as a captain and headed off to Mexico. His service in Mexico was fairly average, bringing him no glory. While there, he kept a diary and wrote many letters to his family.

John returned to his law practice in Batavia after the Mexican War, and in 1853 he was even mayor of the town. However, he still was not doing well in his law practice, so in 1854 or 1855, he and son Tom moved to Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, hoping for better prospects. In July 1855, Tom took a job in Tennessee, and shortly thereafter John Lowe moved his law practice to Xenia, in nearby Greene County, Ohio. Even in Xenia, his law practice did not do well, and he relied on Tom’s contributions to help support the family.

After the Civil War broke out, John enlisted, perhaps seeking the glory that had eluded him during the Mexican War. He was elected colonel in Company D, Twelfth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He sought a commission as a brigadier general, but he did not receive one. (Tom Lowe supposed this was probably because Lincoln did not want to commission generals from neighboring counties, and there was another general from Montgomery County: Robert C. Schenck.)

Col. John W. Lowe, 12th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Col. John W. Lowe, 12th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

In July 1861, the Twelfth Ohio participated in a skirmish at Scarey Creek, (West) Virginia. Afterwards, John was publicly accused of cowardice during the battle, by means of reports written by anonymous individuals and published in several in Ohio newspapers. It is unclear whether the accusations were true, since there are no references to any dishonorable actions by Lowe in his superiors’ reports. Nevertheless, John’s reputation was irreparably damaged.

A few months later, on September 10, 1861, John W. Lowe was killed while leading a charge at the battle of Carnifex Ferry, (West) Virginia. He received a shot directly to the forehead and was the first Ohio field officer to be killed during the Civil War. Thomas Lowe believed that his father had acted rashly in an attempt to quiet the accusations of cowardice, thus exposing himself to an excessive amount of danger and consequently resulting in his death. It has been suggested that this incident contributed to Thomas Lowe’s negative feelings about the Civil War. However, this incident alone does not constitute the cause, as Tom had already expressed feelings of that nature.

John’s wife Manorah died September 22, 1889. They are buried in Woodland Cemetery, in Xenia, Ohio.

** UPDATE 10/18/2012 **

John W. Lowe Memorial

John W. Lowe Memorial in Woodland Cemetery, Xenia, Ohio (Photo by the author, 13 Oct. 2012)

According to Catherine Wilson, director of the Greene County (OH) Historical Society, John W. Lowe’s stone in Xenia’s Woodland Cemetery is a memorial only. He is in fact buried in Clermont County, Ohio, where he had lived prior to Xenia. (Source: Conversation by the author with Catherine Wilson on 13 Oct. 2012.)

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in July 2011 for the Lowe Collection (MS-009) 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.

*****

Bibliography & Further Reading

Becker, Carl M. “The Genesis of a Copperhead.” Bulletin of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio 19, no. 4 (Oct. 1961): 235-253. [Dayton B L913B.]

Becker, Carl M. “John William Lowe: Failure in Inner-Direction.” Ohio History 73, no. 2 (1964): 75-89.

Becker, Carl M. “Picture of a Young Copperhead.” Ohio History 71 (1962): 3-23. [Dayton B L913BP.]

Becker, Carl M. Tom Lowe: A Lesser Angel. [Oxford, OH]: Miami University, 1958. [Dayton B L913BT.]

Broadstone, Michael A., editor. History of Greene County, Ohio: Its People, Industries, and Institutions. Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen, 1918. Vol. 1, pp. 653-656. [Genealogy Reference 977.174 H673B.]

Drury, Augustus Waldo. History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago; Dayton: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1909. Vol. 1, pp. 479, 781; Vol. 2, pp. 937-938. [Dayton 977.173 D796.]

The History of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1882. Book 3, pp. 222-223. [Dayton 977.172 H673.]

Lowe, John W. [Letters of John W. Lowe] [microform]. [Dayton B L9134AA.]

“Lowe Papers.” LHR File. Local History Room, Dayton Metro Library.

“Lowe, Thomas Owen.” LHR File. Local History Room, Dayton Metro Library.

Obituary of Thomas O. Lowe. Dayton Journal, September 10, 1922.