The Hobart publishing Company.

History of Darke County, Ohio, from its earliest settlement to the present time .. (Volume 1) online

. (page 38 of 57)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

progress had been made in agriculture that popular sentiment
clamored for an annual exhibition of the products of the farm
at a properly appointed time and place for the instruction,
encouragement and entertainment of the rural population.
Accordingly, on November 16, 18.S2, some thirty residents
of the county met at the court house and organized the first
County Agricultural Society. I. N. Card was appointed the
first president, Noah Arnold the secretary, and Alfred Kitchen
the treasurer of this society. Within a year the society
numbered 320 members. It seems that a few acres were
rented on the southwest side of Greenville on the present site
of Oakview suburb where the first fair was held on the 7th,
and 8th of September, 1853. Temporary sheds, halls, stables
and fences were built of wide poplar boards, which were re-
moved and sold to the highest bidder after the fair was over.
Extensive and liberal premiums for that time were oiTered
and the grounds vere adequately appointed for the occasion,
reflecting great credit upon the committee having this work
in charge. The display of stock was especially notable at
this first fair, although the progressive farmer of today might
look with amusement upon the live stock exhibited by his for-
bears at that time, and be bored with the performance of the
"wonderful" trotter with a record of "two-forty."

Fairs were held annually thereafter. The board of direc-
tors dected in the fall of 1857 organized as follows : Moses



416 DARKE COUNTY

Hart, president; j. \\'. Shively, vice-president; AI. Sap\-d, sec-
retary; Joseph Bryson, treasurer; George Elston, Isaac Funk
and Reuben Lowery, managers.

A constitution and by-laws were framed and adopted, the
purchase of a substantial set of record books authorized, and
progressive measures taken by this board preparatory to a
successful exhibition in the following fall. Special features
were introduced, such as a "boys' riding match" and a fine
display of militia in full uniform under command of Gen.
Craner.

The records for this fair show total receipts frfim all sources
of $1,594.99; premiums paid, $384.75; balance in treasury
January 3, 1859, $275.19.

The annual election at the above fair resulted as follows:
J. Townsend, president ; Dr. Jas. Rubey, vice-president ; M.
Spayd, secretary ; Geo. .Studabaker, treasurer ; Geo. Keister,
John Plessinger, John ^IcClure, Jas. Grimes and Jas. Anlett,
managers. The conditions prevailing about this time are
vividly portrayed by the "Darke County Boy" as follows :

"I do not know anything about the Darke County Fair of
late years, but in my young days 'Fair Week' was the big-
gest event of the season.

"No difference how hot, dusty, muddy, or cold, the people
came from every direction.

"Joe Hollihan, Joe Zimmerman and Sam N^gflf were the gate
keepers. I believe Warren RatlifT was a gate keeper later
on. By business was to sell boiled eggs. They generally
cost me 8 cents a dozen, and I sold them two for 5 cents, with
salt, pepper and crackers 'thrown in.' I simply coined money
hand-over-fist. One day I made 60 cents clear of all ex-
pense. Oh, but I was rich! I had money to burn, but I
didn't burn it. One fair week I cleared enough to buy a fur
cap, a pair of gloves and a pair of store pants. I couldn't
wait for winter to wear my fur cap, but put it on in the fall,
and strange to say, wore it all winter, just the same.

"Sam Cable was there with watermelons fl mean at the
fair), Frank Scribner had his spruce beer stand, Sam Musser
had his grocery of cheese, dried beef, crackers and 'sich.'
Andy McKann had a grocery and Bill Crandall had a eating
house.

"There was a 'nigger show' and a sideshow. Several bar-
rels of cider were on 'tap.' There was a balloon ascension
and Ann Piatt went up in it. She had a stage name: T have



DARKE COUNTY



417



forgotten it, but it was Ann, just the same. If she isn't dead
she must be nearly a hundred years old.

"Charley Wakeman was in the sideshow. He was adver-
tised as "Professor Blake, of London.' His principal acts
were to drive pins into his leg and swallow a 22 inch sword.
He put beans into his nostrils and ears and stuck them down
the back of his neck, and drew them all out of his mouth.
It was wonderful !"

In 1859 the grounds were considerably enlarged and a
premium list was prepared, published in pamphlet form and
distributed, contributing materially to the success of the fair
which was held on October 4, 5 and 6 of that year. The re-
ceipts for tickets at this fair were $1,332.23 and the total re-
ceipts, including the balance in the treasury from the last
exhibition, $2,376.86. The balance on hand January 2, 1860,
was $869.73. The success of this fair encouraged the expen-
diture of a goodly sum for the improvement of the grounds
for the next exhibition, but the high political excitement pre-
vailing in the fall of 1860 interfered with the success of the
fair and caused a deficit of about $200. The officers elected
for the following year were H. B. Vail, president ; Levi Gra-
ver, vice-president ; Noah Arnold, secretary ; Robert Drew,
Jas. McCabe. Nicholas York, John Stoltz and George Shive-
ly, managers.

The fair of 1861 was held on October 2, 3, 4, 5, and although
$450 had been borrowed to finance it the receipts were suffi-
cient to defray the expense incurred and put the society on
a good footing. The new board chosen after this fair was
constituted as follows : Wm. Turpen, president : John Stoltz,
vice-president ; J. E. Matchett, secretary ; J. F. Bertch, treas-
urer, and J. Townsend, George Shively, A. R. Doty, C. C.
Walker and David Thompson, managers. On account of the
excitement prevailing during the progress of the Civil War
and the absence of so many young men in the army no fair
was held in 1862-1863 and 1864, but upon the cessation of hos-
tilities interest and enthusiasm were revived in the summer
of 1865 and a successful fair was held in the old grounds on
the 28th, 29th and 30th of September. This had been made
possible by a temporary loan of $1,000.00 from public spirited
citizens and the results justified the wisdom of this proce-
dure, as there was a large attendance at this fair and there
was a net balance of over a hundred dollars after all expenses
had been defraved.
(27)



41-8 DARKE COUNTY

The annual fair continued to grow in popularity and in 1861
the site which had been formerly rented was purchased from
Dawes and Turpen for $2,000 and 48,000 feet of lumber or-
dered bought for inclosing the grounds, thus putting the in-
stitution on a more permanent and substantial footing. In
1868 negotiations were made for the leasing of five additional
acres adjoining the south side of the original ground from
Isaac Rush. In 1870 it was agreed to charge an entry fee
of ten per cent, on all premiums of five dollars and over to
be collected when the entries were made, and the price of
family tickets was fixed at $1.00 each, single day tickets
25 cents with an additional daily charge of 20 cents
for wagons of 50 cents for the entire fair. During the
summer a substantial picket fence and several buildings were
erected and preparation made for a big fair. These improve-
ments with enlarged entries of fine stock and agricultu -al
implements conspired with the unusually fine weather to at-
tract a large crowd of visitors from near and far — the number
of attendants on the third day being estimated at 7,500 peo-
ple. Following this fair Geo. D. Miller was elected presi-
dent ; Geo. W. Brawley, vice-president, and Jas. Hopper, John
M. Hall, Amos Hahn and George Elston, managers.

The fair held early in October. 1871, seems even to have
eclipsed that of the former fall with an estimated attendance
of from eight to ten thousand people on the second day. H.
Mills was chosen president, A. H. Van Dyke, vice-president
and J. D. Miller. J. T. :\Iartz. Jas. McCable and X. Arnold,
managers, to prepare for the next fair.

The steady development of Darke county, the increase in
population, the growing popularity of the annual fair and the
general substantial character of the men chosen to manage
the business of the fairs assured an increasing 3-earlv attend-
ance and necessitated the purchase of larger grounds. Ac-
cordingU', early in 1873 the fair board was authorized by the
county commissioner? to sell the grounds and purchase a
larger tract. As a result of this action the original grounds
of some seventeen acres were soon sold to J. \V. Sater and on
June 7, 1873, a new site, comprising forty acres lying just
south of "Huntertown," and between the old Eaton and Jef-
ferson pikes, was ptirchased from Cornelius O'Brien and J.
T. Martz for five thousand dollars. Considerable expense
was incurred in fencing and improving this newly ourchasefl
site, but the enterprise of the board met a hearty response



DARKE COUNTY 419

from the people, who turned out in goudly numbers during
the five days of the fair.

In 1874 the fair was held during the first days of Septem-
ber and was characterized by an unusual number of entries,
a fine speed program including several noted horses from
other places, a ladies' equestrian performance and an un-
successful attempt to make a balloon ascension. The esti-
mated attendance on the third day was twelve thousand.

In 1875 John Townsend was president ; Thos. McCowen
vice-president; ]\Iichael Noggle, J. C. Turpen, I. N. Shively
and A. F. Koop, managers. J. T. ]\Iartz continued as secre-
tary, and A. F. Koop was chosen treasurer. The fair was
held somewhat later than in 1874, the weather was chilly
on the opening day, but became milder by the third daj'.
Two successful balloon ascensions were made during the
fair and the public wagers of money on the horse races called
forth the disapproval of the masses in attendance as a scan-
dal previously unknown.

In 1876, G. W. Studebaker, Sr., J. N. Lowery, E. Lecklider
and N. M. Wilson became the new managers and J. C. Turpen
was chosen secretary. Successful fairs were held in 1876,
1877 and 1878 under practically the same management. In
1879 S. Rynearson was chosen a new manager and Wm. Sul-
livan appointed secretary. Heretofore, it seems, the race
track had been but a fourth of a mile in length, but was at
this time enlarged to one-half a mile and numerous other im-
provements were made. Governor Bishop spoke on the third
day of the fair, September 18, and drew a large crowd. The
receipts of this fair were nearly $5,700.00.

Since 1880 the following persons have served as president
of the board : Thos. McCown, John Townsend, H. C. Cob-
lentz, W.C. Elston, J. P. Meeker. J. M. Brown, L. N. Reed
and M. L. Weisenberger, all men of unusual abilit}' and rep-
resentative of the large class of successful farmers who have
placed Darke county in the front line as an agricultural sec-
tion.

The following well known, capable and experienced farm-
ers, professional and business men have acted in the im-
portant capacity as secretary of the board since 1880: Wm.
Sullivan, Jasper N. Lowery, J. E. Matchett, John C. Turpen,
John P. Lucas, T. C. Maher, F. M. Eidson, O. E. Harrison,
J. A. Tillman, J. M. Hal! and Frank Plessinger.

Among the names of those who have ser\'ed on the board



420 DARKE COUNTY

during this period we note some of the most progressive and
prosperous farmers of the county.

Since the purchase of the present grounds in 1873 vast im-
provements have been made from time to time to accommo-
date the increasing crowds and cater to the convenience of
attendants. It has been the policy of the board to make these
improvements as fast as financial conditions allowed. As a
result we note today the following substantial and commo-
dious buildings on the ground: Besides the large string of
stables and pens, a gate keeper's residence, a Floral and Art
Hall, a Fruit Hall, a Dining Hall, Officers' Quarters, a Me-
morial Hall (erected in 1902 by Frank McWhinney as a place
of rest and convenience for women and children), separate
buildings for poultry, sheep, hogs and cattle and an immense
steel and concrete frame amphitheater, size about 240 by 63
feet erected in 1910, at a cost of over $26,000.00, and having
a seating capacity of some 3,000. Through the co-operation
of the Greenville Driving Club, the track has recently been
reconstructed and improved, making it one of the fine courses
of the state.

Two tracts have recently been purchased, one in 1908, the
other in 1914, and added to the northern side of the grounds,
making the present extent of the grounds 53 67-100 acres,
with an estimated propertv valuation of $62,000.00.

The "Premium List" of 1913 includes the following com-
prehensive divisions :

Class A. Horses. Comprising the following breeds:
Standards, Roadsters, General Purpose, Coach, Clydesdale,
Percherons, Belgians, Grade Draft. Saddle Horses, Matched
Horses, Farm Teams, Ponies. Mules.

Class B. Cattle. Including Shorthorns, Herefords, Polled
Durhams, Aberdeen Angus, Galloway, Jerseys, Red Polled,
Holsteins. Guernsey and Ayrshires.

Class C. Sheep. Including Shropshires, Southdowns, Ox-
forddowns, Hampshiredowns, Catswolds, Lincolns, Dorset,
Cheviot, Delaines, Rambouillet and Merinos.

Class D. Swine. Including Poland Chinas, Berkshires,
Chester Whites, Duroc Jerseys, Hampshires and other breeds.

Class E. Poultry. Including 20 classes as follows: Amer-
icans, Asiatics, English, Mediterranean, Polish, Hamburgs,
French, Games, Oriental Games, Game Bantams, Oriental
Bantams, Miscellaneous, Turkeys. Ducks, Geese, Pigeons,



DARKE COUNTY



421



Pet Stock, Guineas, Breeding Pens and Pen Show Games and
Bantams.

Class F. Farm Implements.

Class G. Grain and Seeds. Confined to Darke county.

Class H. Farm and Garden. Including well known vege-
tables and garden truck.

Class I. Fruits. Including Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums,
Grapes and Quinces.

Class J. Canned Goods. Including Fruits and Vege-
tables, Preserves, Jellies, Jams, Fruit Butters, Pickles, Dried
Fruits and Vegetables.

Class K. Culinary and Dairy.

Class L. Domestic Manufacture. Including Household
Fabrics, Knitting. Crochet, Needlework, Embroidery, Drawn-
work, Silk Embroidery, Laces, Decorative Art Work, Py-
rography, Basketry, Wood Carving, Arts and Crafts, Jew-
elry, Tooled Leather, Stenciling, etc.

Class M. Painting and Drawing. Including Oil Paint-
ing, Tapestry, Water Colors, Crayons, Ink and Pencil, China
and Porcelain.

Class N. Cut Flowers and Plants.

In recent years extensive educational exhibits have been
made for the encouragement of the schools of the county,
which in 1913 showed the following enumeration: 18 city
and village schools, 49 specials, and 134 township and sub-
district schools with a total enrollment of about 10,000 pupils.
The exhibits are included in two departments, viz. : Arts and
Agriculture. The former comprises four classes covering the
various high, grade and elementarj' public schools of the
county. Premiums are offered in these departments on the
best papers, drawings, displays, maps, penmanship, manual
arts work, etc., produced by the pupils. The Department of
Ajgriculture was recently established with an aim of inter-
esting young men and women in the study and improvement
of various breeds of domesticated animals ; the culture of
grain and vegetables and the judging of the same; also the
ability to prepare food properly after judicious selection; the
ability to design different articles of wearing apparel and
sew, fit and embroider the same. Two htmdred dollars
($200.00) was set apart for premiums in this department,
which marks a new, extremely practical and much needed
addition to the work of the board.

The year 1913 was one of the most prosperous in the his-



422 DARKE COUNTY

tory of the fair, the gate receipts being $10,261.00, the grand-
stand admissions $1,701.10, booth rents and privilege per-
mits $4,074.92, and the total receipts from all sources in-
cluding per capita allowance, tax levy, cash in treasury at
beginning of year, amount borrowed, etc., $22,783.38. The
receipts indicated that the attendance on the principal days
was the largest in the history of the fair.

The Darke county fair has certainly been well managed in
most respects for many years and stands near the top of all
the county fairs in the state of Ohio. However, certain
forces are in operation here as in county fairs generally which
call for the serious consideration of right minded people. Per-
haps it would be unfair to hold the board responsible for all
irregularities that are practiced about the grounds during
the crowded, busy days of the fair week.

In the year 1912, Paul L. Vogt, Ph.D., Pro'essor of Sociol-
ogy of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, made a rural survey
of Darke, Montgomery, Preble and Butler counties, which
brought out much interesting information. In commenting
upon the conditions prevailing at the county fairs he made
these thought stirring remarks: "At the last county fair in
Butler county there were excellent exhibits from the experi-
ment station, and from the farms in the different parts of
the county ; but in addition to these were to be found the
side shows and amusements whose presence at a county fair
may be seriously questioned. Farmers and their wives see-
ing the preliminary exhibits of these shows turned aside in
disgust and did not patronize them. They were an insult
to their dignity and to their ideals of morality. These relics
of a ruder age should be omitted from the schedule of a mod-
ern gathering, and the farmers, for whom the fair is pri-
marily intended, should see to it that their desires in matters
of this kind be respected. The cheap, questionable show is a
side issue and detracts from true progress in fair exhibits."

"The same thing may be said of racing, as it is conducted
at the fairs at the present time. Racing is on a professional
basis and is carried on among horsemen who transport their
horses from county to county to take part in the races for the
.<;ake of winning the large prize offered. The races have
little direct relation to stock improvement, and in too many
cases must be classed with the saloon, the gambling den and
the dive in their moral influence."" These are strong words
but seem to be justified as the State Agricultural Commission



DARKE CCUNTY 423

has recently sent out a sweeping order to the eft'ect that any
county fair in the state which hereafter tolerates gambling
or the sale of liquor will forfeit the per capita award of
$800.00 granted by the state and the right to receive a maxi-
mum of $1,500.00 from the county. In an announcement
the commission says: "This order applies to intoxicating
liquor of any kind and to pooling or individual gambling on
horse racing, to cane ring, throwing contests and all other
games into which the gambling element enters.

"The principal object of county fairs — to encourage agri-
culture pursuit and to dissiminate knowledge along that line
is almost forgotten today, and cheap amusements of a de-
nioralizing character seem to predominate. We propose to
restore county fairs to their original sphere as educational
institutions."

To what extent the conditions above set forth prevail at
the Darke county fair the writer does not state. The con-
clusions reached are certainly correct and the purpose of the
commission is worthy of hearty approval and should appeal
forcibly to the fair boards throughout Ohio. The fair, like
any other public institution, deserves the patronage of the
great middle class only so long as it endeavors to carry out
the conmiendable purposes of its organization. It should es-
tablish high standards and elevate the moral and intellectual
tone of the community. If it does not continue to do these
things it will decline rapidly in patronage and influence, and
its doom will be sealed. The writer is inclined to think that
the moral tone of the Darke county fair is healthier than it
was a few years since and looks for a re-adjustment to meet
the demands of the more thoughtful class of patrons who de-
sire to see it conducted along progressive moral lines.

On account of the intense and sustained interest manifested
by the general populace of the county as well as bv former
residents, it is impossible to estimate the influence of the an-
nual county fair. By studying and judiciously meeting the
wants of the rural population the boards have thus far been
able to keep up the interest of the people. Whether the an-
nual fair has passed its meridian and is now on the wane or
is really a permanent institution, remains to be seen. There
is probabh^ not another county fair in Ohio equal to ours in
legitimate attractions and proportionate attendance. In or-
der to increase the usefulness of the grounds some satisfac-
tory arrangement mi^ht be made with the citizens of Green-



424 DARKE COUNTY

ville whereby the grounds would be kept open during the
entire summer season as a park, thereby multiplying" the
value of the grounds as a place of legitimate recreation many
fold. The fair ground would also make almost an idei&l
Chautauqua site for the use of the people of the entire county.

The substantial character of the present membership of
the board lends encouragement to the hope that they will
respond to the quickened and enlightened public sentiment
in these matters, and thus insure a still greater financial suc-
cess and truer social service than ever attained heretofore.

The present membership of the board is as follows : M. L.
Weisenberger, president ; L. M. Reed, vice-president ; Frank
Plessinger, secretary; Ed Ammon, treasurer; Norman Tea-
ford, George Worch, J. E. Folkerth. Albert Harter, J. H.
Dunham, T. C. Maher.



CHAPTER XXI.
PATRIOTIC TEMPERANCE AND OTHER SOCIETIES.

Jobes Post No. 157 Grand Army of the Republic.

Jobes Post G. A. R. was formally organized November 7,
1881, to succeed the Greenville Memorial Association, which,
it seems, had previously looked after the marking of de-
ceased soldiers' graves and transacted business pertaining to
the welfare of the veterans of the Civil War. On the even-
ing above mentioned twenty-two soldiers who had served in
the late conflict, assembled in the city hall, Greenville, O.,
and were mustered in by Col. Brown, of Toledo, O., as char-
ter members: Frank Devor, S. C. Wolf, John Goloener, A.
C. Harter, Jeremiah Jamison, Harvey House, J. H. Ries, J.
L. Bascom, John O'Conner, D. D. Hunter, J. Tip King,
George Gent, L. G. Dills, J. C. Craig, Daniel Murphy, W.
C. Weaver, A. J. Arnold, H. N. Arnold, Jas. Gerard. Wm.
Dean, I. G. Hiller and Martin Rentzler. At this meeting
John O'Conner was elected post commander and J. T. King,
adjutant.

This post was named for Allen T. Jobes, a color-bearer of
the 69th Regiment, who was shot while bearing the stars
and stripes at the battle of Jonesboro, Ga., September 1, 1864.

The first post room was fitted up in Arnold's hall on
Broadway, near Third street, and meetings were held here
until 1895 when Frank McWhinney, a comrade and well
known citizen, tendered the use of the second floor of his
brick business room on West Fifth street for the use of the
post without charge as long as enough members are left
to form a quorum. This new room was appropriately fur-
nished and decorated and was formally dedicated on Monda^^
April 14, 1894, the twenty-ninth anniversary of the surrender
of Lee at Appomattox. The dedicatory services were held
in the Christian Tabernacle just across the street, at which
appropriate addresses were made by Hon. C. M. Anderson,
T. C. Miller and Rev. J. P. McLean, of the Universalist
church in behalf of the G. A. R. ; by W. Y. Stubbs and F. H.



426 DARKE COL'XTY

Jobes on behalf of Brandon Camp, Sons of Veterans, and by
Mollie V. Foster on behalf of the Womans' Relief Corps.
For nearly twenty years weekly camp-fires have been kindled
in this commodious and convenient hall. Numerous recruits
have been mustered in from time to time, but the ranks of
the veterans have been greatly decimated by the Grim Reap-
er during this period. Notwithstanding these losses the
Post has continued active and still has about one hundred
members enrolled.

Other Posts were organized in the county, at Versailles,
Arcanum, Ansonia, Palestine, but most of these have been
practically discontinued for some time.

The following members have served as commander of
Jobes Post since its organization : John O'Conner, John
Ries, A. C. Harter, Thomas Lines. A. H. Brandon, S. M. Guy,
Isaac G. Hiller, S. W. Bishop, John Barnell, Wm. Dean, W.
J. Martin. W. L. Reece, I. N. Smith, Henry Livingston, J. S.