Tag Archives: Lebanon

Spanish Influenza as Reported in Warren County

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War II, it also marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Flu. There was a great article written by Megan Huang on National Archives: Pieces of History Blog regarding the specifics of the Spanish Flu, including just how deadly it was overall.

We are going to focus on the peak of the outbreak and present how it was reported in Warren County in The Western Star. While searching through the papers ranging from 1917-1919 the majority of the articles span from October 10, 1918, through November 7, 1918. The articles include an order from the Mayor of Lebanon closing all public gathering places at the height of the pandemic, obituaries of Warren County citizens, and advertisements from local businesses capitalizing on the flu. Many of the deaths reported in The Western Star followed along the trend of this flu, which targeted middle aged and healthy individuals.

The surprising factor of our research is that, despite the deadliness of the Spanish Flu, there just was not a lot of coverage. Even the short time that the flu was covered, the headlines were minimal and were primarily focused locally. This fact does not seem to be unique to Warren County, this seems to be the norm for many news outlets.

Western Star - October 10, 1918 - Spanish Flu - 1

The Western Star, October 10, 1918

Western Star - October 17, 1918 - Spanish Flu (1)

The Western Star, October 17, 1918

Western Star - October 17, 1918 - Spanish Flu (2)

The Western Star, October 17, 1918

Western Star - October 31, 1918 - Spanish Flu (1)

The Western Star, October 31, 1918

Western Star - October 31, 1918 - Spanish Flu (2) - 1

The Western Star, October 31, 1918

Western Star - October 31, 1918 - Spanish Flu (2) - 2

The Western Star, October 31, 1918

Western Star - October 31, 1918 - Spanish Flu (2) - 3

The Western Star, October 31, 1918

Western Star - November 7, 1918 - Spanish Flu - 1

The Western Star, November 7, 1918

Western Star - November 7, 1918 - Spanish Flu - 2

The Western Star, November 7, 1918

Western Star - November 20, 1919 - Spanish Flu

The Western Star, November 20, 1919


“I Consent.” Invaluable Historical Records

The Warren County Records Center and archives receives a number of research requests each year. One of our favorites to handle are the marriage consents. These consents accompany our marriage record and marriage license issued records and date back to 1803.

Generally the requests that we receive regarding these relatively unknown records come from genealogists or people conducting their own family history. Early in the 1800’s the information included in a typical marriage record was: Groom’s name, Bride’s name, Date of marriage, County Clerk who issued paperwork, and sometimes the officiant name. For those people who are trying to trace their lineage back through earlier generations it is extremely inconvenient when there are no birthdays or parent’s names included in the paperwork. The reason the consents are so valuable and cool is because if someone were underage at the time of their marriage, their parent or parents would have to sign over their consent for the marriage to take place. With this additional information, researchers have been able to find family information that might forever be lost otherwise.


Marriage Consent, August 25, 1803


Marriage Consent, August 25, 1803


Marriage Consent, October 22, 1816


Marriage Consent, October 22, 1816

Vote Counting Controversy…

As we have seen in the past, the election results are not always as cut and dry as they seem. This Court of Common Pleas case “Conrod Snyder vs. John Hopkins,” following the election of Sheriff in 1823 is the perfect example!

The declared winner for Warren County Sheriff was John Hopkins, which would be the 4th year in a row in which he served as Sheriff. Prior to Mr. Hopkins, Conrod Snyder had held the position from 1817-1820. These two men, along with Allen Wright, were on the ballot of 1823.

Following the election, Mr. Snyder claimed that he was the rightful winner and accused the Clerk of Common Pleas Court along with two Associate Judges of counting the votes without waiting for the required amount of days to pass. The Clerk along with the Judges counted the votes four days after the election as opposed to the required six days. As a result they had failed to receive the poll books for Franklin Township.

As we can see from the images below, Mr. Snyder was the clear winner over Mr. Hopkins. Following the controversy, Mr. Hopkins submitted his resignation as Sheriff of Warren County. Conrod Snyder would serve just this one additional year, John Hopkins was elected to the post of Sheriff the following election season.


Conrod Snyder vs. John Hopkins


Conrod Snyder vs. John Hopkins

Come One, Come All to Our Spectacular 3 Ring Circus

While doing some research within our archives I ran across an old hotel ledger from the National Hotel, located across the street from the Warren County Court House during the mid 1800’s. In a detailed bill, dated May 12th 1858, Charles Johnson is charged $1.50 for hay for elephant and $0.80 for oats for elephant. His stay spanned  February 22nd through May 10th. Can you imagine strolling through town and coming upon an elephant during your visit, in Lebanon Ohio, in the winter? Upon further research I was able to locate famous elephant trainer Charles Johnson, located within the index of the Circus Historical Society. This index lists him as an employee for George F. Bailey & Co. in 1866. It appears that this may be our infamous traveler who stayed in Lebanon with his elephant!

Animal menageries and the circus were present within the United States as early as 1793. In the early years they were ran as separate attractions until 1830, when promoters found a way to combine the two for one spectacular show. Exotic animals were a main attraction even prior to their participation in the show. Prior to films and mass produced photographs, this was the only opportunity for many people to view such spectacles. These shows capitalized on their popularity by traveling throughout the country by both wagons and railroad cars.

Warren County hosted a number of these traveling shows and was lucky enough to have their very own circus owner living in “The Ridge” community. James S. Totten owned and operated the “The Great Eastern Circus and Hippodrome.” The Warren County Ohio GenWeb Project has a great write up written in 1944, by Hazel Brooks. Brooks writes “Mr. Totten was the first man to transport his circus entirely by railroad.” Unfortunately due to the popularity of Barnum, Mr. Totten’s circus went out of business and some of the animals were given to the Cincinnati Zoo.

In addition to housing an elephant for some months, Warren County hosted numerous shows throughout the decades when circuses and menageries were popular. While looking through advertisements you can chronicle the changes these shows underwent through the years. What was once a small show with performances mainly by people with animals on display eventually transitioned into elaborate performances that included performances and tricks done by lions and elephants. Although many of the records for these smaller circuses do not surface often, it makes these small discoveries a treasure for local history and folklore.


For further reading:

Warren County Historical Society GenWeb Project

Circus Historical Society



Roads to people nowadays are a part of our lives. It’s never a question of whether we will be able to get from A-Z, our GPS will choose the fastest route utilizing the many roads within the county. In the early 1800’s this was not the case, typically there were only roads that led from one town to the next and the roads built to navigate through town. Early settlers traveled by waterway or trails that were established by the Native Americans to navigate through the county. One way that people could ensure a road that ran to their property was to propose said road to the county and pay for it. Neighbors would  occasionally get together to accomplish this goal. Many of the major routes throughout Warren County were established this very way.

Warren County Records Center & Archives has a book with a map collection of proposed free pikes within the county from the late 1800’s. The maps themselves are hand drawn and hand painted with extraordinary detail. They provide us with a snapshot of how the residents and county officials envisioned progress within the county. In addition to documenting potential progress these maps can be utilized for analyzing current progress, genealogical information, and change in the natural landscape as a result of progress. No matter the end use, these maps are beautiful and provide researchers with a rich opportunity to examine primary documents at their finest.

Map - Lebanon and Deerfield Turnpike

Lebanon and Deerfield Turnpike

Map - Halls Creek Free Pike

Halls Creek Free Pike

Map - Williams Road Improvement

Plat of The Williams Road Improvement

Let’s Go To The Fair!

How did the Warren County fair come to be?

Prior to the organization of the Warren County Agricultural Society in 1849, several exhibitions of agricultural and mechanical products were held at Lebanon.  The first annual fair of the Warren County Agricultural Society was held on the farm of John Osborn, just east of Lebanon, on September 26 and 27, 1850.

In 1852 the society leased 10 acres of land from Robert G. Corwin, Esq. for fair purposes.  An admission fee of 15 cents was charged for all persons not members of the society. The first fair on these grounds, which constitute a part of the present fair grounds, was held on September 22 and 23, 1852.

The original Society had 214 members, which was one of the largest in the State at the time. Ezra Carpenter of Clarksville, the first president, disclosed that the first fair met the guidelines that had been set by the officers and members.  In 1858, the society reported a membership of 1,300, 22 acres of ground, leased for 7 years, with improvements thereon worth about $2,000.  At the fair of 1857, $800 was awarded in premiums, the largest of which was $30 for the best-conducted experiment on 1/8 of an acre of Chinese sugar-cane, with the product in sugar or molasses.

In 1872 the society owned 30 acres and continued to build up the fairgrounds. Fairs have been held every year since the organization of the Warren County Agricultural Society, except for 2 years while the Civil War was in progress.  The 2015 Warren County Fair has already begun and will end on July 25.  For more information about the fair, visit the Warren County Fairgrounds website.

A Proposed Layout of the Warren County Fairgrounds, circa 1908.

A Proposed Layout of the Warren County Fairgrounds, March 26, 1904.

In February 1941, the Warren County Commissioners planned for a new grand stand at the Fairgrounds.

In February 1941, the Warren County Commissioners planned for a new grand stand at the Fairgrounds.

An article about the fair from The Western Star Newspaper, September 27, 1900.

An article about the fair from The Western Star Newspaper, September 27, 1900.

Warren County Fair research was done by the Records Center & Archives Administrative Coordinator Patricia Grove.  Thank you, Pat!

Trivia Question: What group was barred by law from competing for premiums in the 1st Warren County fair?  The answer will be revealed next post!

Answer to July 13th question:  “Big Captain Johnny”

Francis Dunlevy: Soldier, Legislator, and Warren County’s 1st Judge

Who was Francis Dunlevy and why was he important?

Francis Dunlevy

Francis Dunlevy

Francis Dunlevy was a distinguished pioneer born in Winchester, Virginia on December 31, 1761.  The eldest of four, Dunlevy moved with his family to Catfish, Pennsylvania in 1772. He then volunteered in the military as a private in 1776 before he was fifteen years old.  He served at least eight different times against various Indian groups before turning twenty-one, tending to his studies when he could.  After the Revolutionary War, Dunlevy went to Dickinson College where he studied to become a Presbyterian minister.  He soon changed his religious views, identifying more with the Baptist church and gave up religious studies to become a teacher.  Dunlevy moved with family again to Washington, Kentucky in 1790, eventually making his way to Butler County, Ohio in 1792 where he opened a classical school and married Mary Craig.  He moved the school to Lebanon in 1797 and continued it until 1801, becoming the first teacher of ancient languages in the Miami Valley.  In an attempt at public office, he lost his first special election for a seat in the Northwest Territory Legislature in 1799 to Isaac Martin.  Dunlevy was successfully elected as one of seven representatives from Hamilton County and served in the Territorial Legislature in 1801.  In 1802, he was elected as a member of the Constitutional Convention.  Born in a slave state, Dunlevy witnessed the evils of slavery in Virginia and voted against every attempt to allow it in Ohio’s first constitution.   He even took it one step further and was in favor of equal political rights for all men, regardless of color.  At Ohio’s first election, Dunlevy was elected a member of the Senate in the Legislature.  Before adjournment, this body selected him as one of three President Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for two consecutive terms where he oversaw the Southwestern circuit made up of ten counties.  At the close of his second term, Dunlevy felt compelled to practice law to help support his large family.  He persisted tirelessly in his legal pursuits and attended the courts of several surrounding counties, becoming the first judge of Warren County.  After 50 years of labor as a pioneer, soldier, teacher, legislator, framer of a State Constitution, lawyer, and Judge, Dunlevy retired at the age of seventy.  He died October 6, 1839 at 78 years old and is buried at the old Baptist Cemetary in Lebanon.

Excerpt:  Common Pleas State Record

Excerpt: Common Pleas State Record “A.” May Term 1807. State of Ohio vs. Joseph Little & Jonathan Cone. Warren County, Ohio. Pages 102-103.
“Pleas held for the County of Warren within the State of Ohio on the third Tuesday of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seven before the Honorable Francis Dunlevy Esquire Presiding Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the first circuit and Jacob D. Lowe, Ignatius Brown, and Peter Burr, Esquire associate judges assigned to keep the peace in and for said county and also to hear and determine (diverse) felonies, trespasses, and other misdemeanors committed in the same county.”

Trivia Question: Who was the famous Indian that Francis Dunlevy encountered at the Battle of Sandusky?  The answer will be revealed next post!

Answer to July 6th question:  The Great Depression