Who Wore It Better?

The legacy left by President Abraham Lincoln has inspired generations since his assassination on April 15, 1865. Today we are focusing on one in particular, his beard.


Image of Abraham Lincoln courtesy of Library of Congress, Image of Professor Alfred Holbrook, donated by Jeanne Longmuir

While visiting a group of first graders in December I shared some photographs donated to the Records Center from the National Normal University. We were discussing the changes over time of people’s needs vs. wants and how style has changed over time. These inquisitive young minds were quick to point out that Professor Alfred Holbrook (President of NNU from 1855-1897) resembled President Lincoln, and they are right.

The story behind his beard was that 11 year old Grace Bedell wrote to the Presidential candidate encouraging him to grow a beard because it would help fill out his very thin face. The history behind men’s facial hair is as long as it is fascinating and this story just adds to the interest of how one mans choice can influence a generation. The image of Holbrook dates long after President Lincolns death and it must be noted that the students at the National Normal University do not share this facial hair style with their elder counterpart. So although the trend had moved on, those who lived during Lincoln’s Presidency kept this trend alive.

For further reading check out the following links:

Library of Congress

Lincoln: A Beard Is Born


The Elusive House History

As the keeper of the historic Warren County Records, we get a lot of requests for the history on houses, properties, and previous property owners. Through our time spent with these records over the years we have found that this is no easy feat. We find ourselves wishing there was a database that existed where we could just type in the address and receive the information. Unfortunately this is not the case so we thought we would give you a glimpse into our best process in which to narrow down a date for your old house at a county archives.

The best first step is to check with any existing online databases within your county. It’s a far reach that if your house was built in the 19th century that the information will exist, but it’s worth a shot. In addition you can always google your address and see what pops up.

There are two best second steps to determine who owned the property before you. Sometimes if your county has old maps and you can narrow down where your property is on those maps, you can see who owned the property in that year. Many times these maps will also indicate whether there was a structure on the property. If this effort is fruitless you can contact whichever county department that keeps the historic deeds. For example in Warren County the historic deeds are kept in our Recorder’s Office. Have as much information ready when starting your search, such as: parcel id, your date of purchase, current property owner, and address.

Once you have determined who previously owned the property, the third step can be to research through the historic tax duplicates. In the case of Warren County, these are available through the Records Center and Archives. Our tax duplicates are organized by year, township, and property owner. By researching previously paid taxes, you can narrow the information down to when the property owner paid taxes on land and when taxes increased indicating a structure being built on the property.

Included below is a link from The National Trust for Historic Preservation titled “10 Ways to Research you Home’s History.” This list is a great way to aid your search outside of official county records.

10 Ways to Research Your Home’s History – National Trust for Historic Preservation

1-19-18 The Centennial Atlas, 1903 - 16

Image The Centennial Atlas, 1903

1-19-18 The Centennial Atlas, 1903 - 25

Image The Centennial Atlas, 1903

1-19-18 The Centennial Atlas, 1903 - Map 5

Image The Centennial Atlas, 1903

The Struggle to Stay Dry

Warren County’s progressive stance on prohibition was short lived.  The county managed to stay dry from 1909-1915. Until prohibition was ratified within the U.S. Constitution (1919), the county put up a long hard fight to return to return dry.

Prohibition supporters were creative in their methods of gaining support within the community. They engaged the public by gaining support of prominent figures within the county, using flashy new vehicles as a wow factor, and bringing in people who were popular within the movement to speak publicly.IMG_5099

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One Year Anniversary!

One Year Anniversary!

This Day in History – October 4, 2016, the Warren County Records Center & Archives installed the 2116 Warren County Health and Human Services Building Time Capsule.

One of the coolest items we put into this new time capsule was a collection of images of what 6th grade students from Little Miami Intermediate thought Warren County would look like in 100 years. We didn’t want to share too much of what we put in this time capsule so the people who open it in 2116 would be surprised, but these were just too good not to share.

Thanks again to all of the students who submitted these wonderful drawings!10-4-2017 Class Drawing 1-110-4-2017 Class Drawing 1-210-4-2017 Class Drawing 1-310-4-2017 Class Drawing 3-110-4-2017 Class Drawing 3-210-4-2017 Class Drawing-110-4-2017 Class Drawing-2

Let’s Go on a Ride…

Now that the weather is nice we invite you to take a trip with us down the Little Miami Scenic Trail during the month of June. We would love to share some of the history of this trail prior to it becoming the recreation trail that we know today. Beginning in the north and traveling south, we will be highlighting locations and events in Warren County along the trail.
This Ohio Railroad Map of Ohio (located in the Records Center & Archives reading room, available for public use) dated 1912, provides an overview of where the Little Miami Scenic Trail utilized old railroad track lines.
Be sure to check back for posts and see if you recognize some of the history and sites along the trail!


Railroad Map of Ohio, 1912

Little Miami Scenic Trail - 1

Edited Railroad Map of Ohio, 1912

The Precursor to Google Earth…

Lets be honest…we in the archives use Google Maps and Google earth all the time! It is such a quick and easy way to find areas of interest while conducting research or looking at old properties our patrons are looking up information on. Recently we visited Hunter Elementary School in the Franklin School District. We normally like to take our old township maps, like the ones we shared last month, the area where this school is had not changed much over the course of time (1856-1940).  While these maps are historically accurate and we could tell a lot of information about the land, it just was not enough visual information for these young minds.

Insert what the Records Center and Archives would consider the precursor to Google Earth, the aerial photograph! These images certainly are not as interactive, but they can still tell us a lot of information! The aerial photographs that we have in the Records Center and Archives are of the entirety of Warren County in the years 1954 and 1962. It just so happens that the area where the school is located changed most drastically between the times that these images were captured.

We love utilizing these images to help students and patrons help tell the history of their homes, properties, schools, and businesses. Some of the different ways you can utilize these records to tell Warren County history are changes in: transportation, population, natural landscape, recreation, etc.

For the Hunter Elementary maps we were able to see drastic changes in population growth because in the 1954 image the area around the school and the school was made up of farms, on the 1962 image the school was built and the area surrounding the school is now neighborhoods. Another big change in this area was the construction of Interstate 75! Can you look at these images and find any other major changes?


1956 Aerial Image


1962 Aerial Image


2017 Aerial Image


Wait, Landen Lake hasn’t always been there?

This is one of our favorite local histories to teach during our Education Outreach program at J.F. Burns Elementary School. In our blog post last week “Teaching With Township Maps” we pointed out how we can help kids to tell their local history through comparing these County Maps.
We like to take them back to 1903, 1944, and finally to a current map. I will point out where their school is located and then ask them to tell me what is currently across the street, Landen Lake. Then I ask them to tell me what is across the street on the earlier township maps. It is so much fun to see their eyes light up when they realize that Landen Lake has not always been there! It was once known as Simpson’s Creek, which we then proceed to ask them to tell us how they think it became a lake. Their answers are always interesting and full of imagination!
This is one amazing example of how the historic maps can be utilized within our community. These records are open and available to the public and our staff would love to help you research properties within the area!

Edited 1903 Deerfield Township Map


Edited 1944 Deerfield Township Map


Edited 2017 Deerfield Township Map

Teaching With Township Maps

Recently we pointed out a large map cabinet that is located in our reading room. (If you haven’t seen it, be sure to go over and check it out on our Facebook page using this link: Warren County Records Center and Archives FB ) The outside is unassuming and seemingly just another piece of office storage. Contained inside though is a vast collection of the history of Warren County. One of our greatest reference tools for helping patrons and genealogists are the maps contained within our Records Center and Archives reading room.

One of our favorite uses of these township maps is to teach young students how to trace their local history by utilizing the information contained within the maps. We have been able to help these students create a real connection between where their schools and neighborhoods are to what was once there. What they have found are vast changes in the types of jobs that Warren County residents may have had, whether they lived in neighborhoods like we do today, changes in transportation within the county, and how the landscape has changed drastically in just a few short decades.

Creating this connection for patrons and students is always a joy to watch because it provides an understanding of how Warren County became what it is today. These maps also provide a quick reference point for old land records. We have helped people who were looking for old family plots of land or performing house histories to determine where and who owned the land! The maps included in our map cabinet date back to the early 1900’s and include township maps, Ohio railroad maps, cemetery maps, and even some county blue prints.


Clearcreek Township Map, Created in 1942 and approved in 1944


Hamilton Township Map, Created in 1942 and approved in 1944

Moldy #TBT

Today’s #TBT goes back to last Friday. Archivists Jen Haney and Jenifer Baker took a peek at the moldy materials that were pulled out of Warren County’s 1916 Infirmary Time Capsule in September.
These materials have been sitting in the Records Center’s climate controlled storage room for the past 4 months in hopes that they would dry out enough to salvage. Unfortunately upon inspection our archivists found that the photographs had not improved at all and had in fact grown more mold.
Our archivists were able to digitize each item front and back so that we have a recorded copy of each item extracted from the historic time capsule. While we were able to digitize these photographs it was with heavy hearts and much deliberation, in order to avoid the cross contamination of the County records, and due to the fact that the mold had eaten away at the once valuable images the decision was made to dispose of the moldy materials. Fortunately we were able to preserve the letter that we received from Leah Jones, who lived at the Infirmary with her parents at the time of the fire. We have included some of the documented images below. Please feel free to contact the Records Center and Archives direct to see the complete selection of documented images. 

Progressive Prohibition

Warren County went through many phases when it came to the prohibition of alcohol. In today’s exhibit preview we highlight the progressive view that Warren County had on outlawing alcohol. During the election season of 1908, the “Drys” launched a fierce campaign against the “Wets” of numerous Ohio counties. Headlines such as “Warren County Must Go Dry,” adorned the local newspapers and claims “To campaign against Warren County Saloons is glorious”. 
In looking at the article that was published shortly after the victory of 1908, against the “Wets” the Western Star tallied the votes for and against Prohibition within the county by Township. It appears even though the language used to describe the outcome of the election, the results were very close with the “Drys” winning by only 130 votes out of a total of 6,386 cast.
One of the most interesting items included in this portion of the exhibit is a very early court case, The State of Ohio vs. Ben Wallace. Mr. Wallace was “Indicted For Drinking Whiskey on a Car Propelled by Electricity” on April 7, 1913. If you look closely it claims that he was drinking said whiskey in a car that was not in a dining, cafe, or other car with buffet or cafe attachment. In our next installment of Prohibition: Gambling, Bootlegging, and Propaganda in Warren County, we will find that the victory of the “Drys” vs. “Wets” was short lived.