Thursday, March 1, 2012

Katie Smith, 2008 WNBA Championship MVP



I went to Logan, Ohio High School to do a concert in the spring of 1992 and my concert ended up being a celebration for the girl's basketball team's trip to the state finals, where they were a proud runner-up. I left Logan a part of Katie Smith's extended family.

I have followed my sistah, Katie, through a trip with the Ohio State University to the NCAA finals in 1993, we celebrated two ABL championships with the Columbus Quest in 1997-98. I have sent her love with USA Basketball in Sidney, on crutches in Athens and victoriously in Beijing.

My Columbus brotha' Bill Dancey and I had tix for Monday, October 6, 2008, at The Palace in Auburn Hills, but instead, we replayed Sunday's match and wept in joy as our sistahs of the Detroit Shock swept game three of the 2008 WNBA Finals. Katie, your extended family in Central Ohio sends our love to you in this proud moment; we'll have hugs and kisses for you when you get back to North High Street.

The 2008 WNBA Season is over, my tears of joy are shed because now, my sistahs get a while to rest the aching bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and sleep in their own beds for a few weeks, before their journeys to make a living in sports continue with travel overseas. I love the game, every team and every player that participates in this sporting entertainment that gives such joy to our extended, women's basketball family.

I just wish our family was larger; that the tens of millions that worship Kobe, LeBron, Kevin, Tim and the NBA, would embrace the same passion that comes to the court with Candice Parker, Lisa Leslie, Katie, Deanna "Tweetie" Nolan, Beckie Hammond, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi. But because our mighty WNBA Army remains small, it's mocked by small minds and overlooked by sports media.

I am a world traveled professional musician, a pilot, scuba diver and published author, but there is nothing more exciting in my life than women's basketball. The 2008 USA Basketball/WNBA season was the best; no ifs, ands or buts.

My personal MVP Award is shared by Katie, Ann Wauters and Taj McWilliams-Franklin; three mighty warriors.

Arnett Howard
, at the end of the 2008 WNBA season

Joe's Corners


The corner of Broad Street and Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road, in the Blacklick area, was known as Joe’s Corners. Our rented farmhouse, known as the Milburn Place, for that was the family who originally settled there, set back from the northwest corner.

On the southwest corner there existed a restaurant-gas station structure, named for Joe Grubs, who was one of the early retailers there, selling everything from rolling pins to new-born pups. I am sure that this corner supplied residents and travelers to Columbus from the outlying farmland, for generations.

Blacklick got its name from H.G. Black, who owned the first farm south of what eventually became the little town. As early as 1806, the nearby stream was referred to as Black’s Lick Creek, as Mr. Black kept a salt lick on his farm.

Nowadays, the buzz of Eastpointe Shopping Center (on the site of our farmhouse) and countless suburbanites going to and fro interrupts the sound of Blacklick Creek flowing in its banks. When I was growing up there, the surrounding farmland was owned by the Ramey family, who had a house just north of us, on the opposite side of the road.

Lucy Ramey ran the Joe’s Corners restaurant for a time. She and Dr. Ramey held on to it, and the surrounding property for a long time, before allowing it to become developed as the sea of houses and businesses that it is today.

Here’s a description of the area from Ben Hayes on June 10, 1952: “Just a few months ago these very fields were wastelands of stripped cornstalks – forlorn vistas, the earth frozen hard, tattered here and there with ragged patches of snow as the whistling, biting wind rattled the debris which harvest leaves behind. Now, on every side, as I sit in the deep green shadow of the tree, are fields that have been plowed, harrowed and cultipacked into excellent seedbeds. From this pulverized earth, rain-moistened and warmed, hour after hour by the sun, is springing the tender green corn. This crop will climb skyward – you can see it grow in the shimmer of summer which already has begun. What a phenomenon!”

Now if we could only unpave that field, have back the ancient catalpa tree with my childhood swing and go back to the simple corn-fed life at Joe’s Corners.

Christine Hayes

Barbara Chavous: Arts Mother




For over thirty years Columbus’ artistic mother has been Barbara Chavous, painter and sculptor. Barbara was raised in Columbus, graduated from East High, Central State University and was married to movie photographer Adger Cowens in New York.

She met Stanley Sourelis in New York, they married and resettled in Columbus. She says that he taught her the sense of color that now characterizes her work.

During those exciting days, Stanley and Barbara were the artistic mentors to many of us; Queen Brooks, Terry Logan, Pheoris West, Candy Watkins, Stephen Canneto, Walt Neal, Sandy Aska and countless others. They moved to 776 Franklin Avenue, the former Henry Hallwood Mansion, and were one of the pioneering household in a diverse community now know as Olde Towne East.

Barbara was born and raised in Columbus in a very creative household. "I don't know that we called what we did art at the time, but we we always involved in things artistic."

She graduated from Columbus East High School, where she was involved in drama, music and she went to college at Central State University, graduating with a degree in elementary education. She met and married New York photographer Adger Cowans and had a son named Eden. She enjoyed living in New York, "A whole new world opened up to me. I felt at home there and discovered so many wonderful things about living."

She taught for ten years in the New York City School system, emphasizing visual arts. "At least once a week I took my classes somewhere. If it was not to a museum, we went to Midtown New York and strolled around looking at buildings." She continued educating herself by attending classes at the Museum of Natural History, the New York Art League and visiting galleries.

Barbara was noted for her sculpting called Jazz Totems, tall layered-wood pieces that frequently used found objects and recycled materials. Sculptures, wall hangings, drawings and other works by Chavous are included in the Columbus Museum of Art collection. Her commissioned sculpture The City stands Downtown in Bicentennial Park.

"I learned that art didn't have to be perfection; it had to do with spiritual feeling, emotions, reacting to nature and doing what comes naturally." She said, "I began to visit flea markets and wound up with a lot of junk. One day I started putting all that junk together and the education process started again. I was getting myself into wood and metal, seeing things in their natural form."

She established a circular trademark on her totems called loukoumis, named after a Greek candy that she liked (Sourelis is from a Greek family heritage). She says that she paints the whole structure white, then adds color to it as it occurs to her. In the 1990s she discovered puff paint, a dimensional paint that expands when heated and she added a new texture and meaning to her colorful palette.

"My jazz totem art does not fit into any mold. It doesn't have limitations; one has to explore who they are. America is a creative place and we do types of work here that are not done anywhere in the world."

"What makes people important to each other and to themselves is creativity. It doesn't answer all the questions of life, but it's a start."

In 2003, I was honored to be nominated for the Arts Freedom Award, presented by Southside Settlement House and the Columbus Museum. The two other honorees that year were Steven Anderson, director of Phoenix Theater for Children and Barbara Chavous, my mom.

What a joyful evening; like the proverbial “Old Home Night.” All of the Columbus arts family that we partied, exhibited and loved with during those frenzied days of the seventies and eighties came together to celebrate the recognition of our life’s work.

Barbara passed in January, 2008. To paraphrase a composition from my pastor Mary Kay Beale Carter, “With grateful heart I thank you, Lord, “ for bringing Barbara Chavous into my life.

Arnett Howard

Gary and Danny O'Brien



A cute picture of Gary and Danny O'Brien in the 1950s taken by their father, Don O'Brien.

Hubbard School



William B. Hubbard was the president of the Exchange Bank of Columbus from 1845 to 1852. He was also the president of the Mechanics’ Savings Institute (incorporated 1838) and on the Board of Trustees of Green Lawn Cemetery. Hubbard Avenue and the school were named after him.

I talked to Teresa Sadek, principal of Hubbard School. Whose decision to paint all the double doors and trim a plum color? She gave me some insight: the doors are of bright hues inside, as well. It was consensual. One hundred and ninety students brighten the halls, too, in grades Pre-K to Fifth. The building still has its original tin ceilings and hardwood floors. Ms. Sadek used to be principal of Medary School, another architectural highlight of Columbus.

She added two more notes of history. The records of Hubbard School are still intact, with students’ names, grade reports, and some exams they took, dating back to the origin of the school – an unburied time capsule. Also, she knows that there used to be an opening in the upstairs floor that enabled a teacher to look below into the downstairs hall. It has since been sealed due to safety issues.

The only change to the building has been an addition of a gym in the 1970’s. Ms. Sadek said that the recent renovation of the playground was accomplished through the generosity and cooperation of local businesses. Way to go, Short North!

The yellow-brick fa├žade, with its arched-frame black windows above, looks smugly onto Hubbard Avenue. Above the double front peaks lies the imposing octagonal dome. What a landmark! I should like to be a child playing near its curved shape, and look up, and feel secure in its shadow. A child of say, the year 1900, for Hubbard School was built in 1892.

Christine Hayes

Fred and Howard's Studebaker Lark



I was going through the New York Times recently and I ran across an advertisement for a 1960 Studebaker Lark. The ad read, “The frumpy Lark nearly saved Studebaker, but few people saved Larks. It’s an ideal start to a collection of defunct brands. $10,000-$11,000.”

The photo of the plain automobile reminded me of a photo that I took back in 1996 of Fred Holdridge and Howard Burns in front of a Studebaker Lark that they owned. It was getting serviced at the German Village Shell station that was operated by the Vern Thacker family.

I don’t know the year of Fred and Howard’s pristine vehicle but I’m guessing that it was a 1960. According to a page on the Wikipedia website, “The Studebaker Lark is a "compact car" which was produced by Studebaker from 1959 to 1966. From its introduction in 1959 until 1962, the Lark was a product of the Studebaker-Packard Corporation. In mid-1962, the company dropped "Packard" from its name and reverted to its pre-1954 name, the Studebaker Corporation. In addition to being built in Studebaker's South Bend, Indiana, home plant, the Lark and its descendants were also built in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, from 1959-1966 by Studebaker of Canada Limited.”

Studebaker-Packard was a full-sized car and the Studebaker Company celebrated its one-hundredth year in 1952. But the company was losing money and the Lark was introduced as a compact that would save the company. It sold well for the years 1959 and 1960 and had two levels of trim; Fred and Howard’s was the Deluxe.

It seems obvious that Fred and Howard had their Lark painted, if not restored, by the looks of it’s exterior and chrome. If I rode in the car, it was not more than once. They would get new cars every couple of years and the Studebaker was just a whim for them, but I remember it sitting behind their German Village apartment until 2001.

The car was sold after Howard’s passing in 2001 and replaced with an electric Gem Car.

Arnett Howard

Salmon P. Chase's Boyhood Escapade



Salmon P. Chase served as U.S. Senator from Ohio 1849-1855, he was the 23rd Governor of Ohio 1856-1860, re-elected as Ohio Senator in 1860, but was called by President Abraham Lincoln to be Secretary of the Treasury in the President’s cabinet 1861-1864. He was placed by Lincoln as the sixth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1864, an office Chase held until 1871.

Upon the death of his father when he was nine, Salmon Chase was raised by his mother and then his uncle, Philander Chase, an Episcopal bishop, and came to live with him in Worthington when the boy was twelve in 1820. When young Salmon was not in school, he did chores about the farm, drove cows to pasture, took grain to the mill.

He once received instructions from his uncle to kill and dress a young pig which was to be roasted for dinner. He knew how to kill and scald him, but he could not pull out the bristles easily. He got a cousin’s razor and neatly shaved the pig, but nearly ruined the razor. This tale was told around Worthington until it reached Henry Howe’s ears. Hardly George Washington’s cherry tree incident, but Howe reports the job was well done.

Salmon lived with his uncle about a year and a half. Mr. Elias Lewis was a bricklayer in Worthington and Salmon assisted him. He spoke with Howe about his pride in that a man who became governor and a chief justice carried mortar for him.

Chase went on to school in Cincinnati (where he later settled and was in a literary society with the Stowes) and Dartmouth College, then moved to Washington, DC to study law. He was politically ambitious, moving from the Liberty Party to the Free Soil Party (“Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” was their motto, coined by Chase) to the Republican Party. Chase opposed slave labor and was among the first to oppose the southern movement to control the Federal Government. As Ohio Governor he supported women’s rights, public education, and prison reform.

His other claim to fame is that his picture is featured on the $10,000 bill, which is now out of circulation, so don’t accept one if it is offered to you as change.

Christine Hayes

The Baby Bootie Incident: The First Pioneer Child

John and Mary Hamlin built the first log cabin east of the Scioto River (later, the site of Hoster’s brewery). Here, on October 16, 1804, their daughter Keziah was born.

A tribe of Wyandots lived nearby and were friendly with the Hamlins. They were especially fond of Mrs. Hamlins’s freshly baked bread. On bread-baking days they would come to the cabin, enter and help themselves to some bread, without asking or saying a word. Upon leaving they would throw a hunk of venison or other game on the floor as compensation and silently take their departure.

One day, while the infant Keziah was sleeping and Mrs. Hamlin was elsewhere attending to her tasks, the Wyandots entered the cabin and silently made away with the child, as if she were a loaf of bread. Mrs. Hamlin was beside herself with fear and anxiety for her daughter. As the hours passed, she was heartbroken until the return of the Wyandots with the infant wearing a beautiful pair of beaded moccasins on her feet, the work of which had obviously been done during the day to insure a perfect fit.

Miss Keziah Hamlin married December 19, 1822 to David Brooks of Princeton, Mass., and died on Feb. 4, 1875, having five children of her own. One of these children, Mr. David W. Brooks, a banker, told this anecdote to the contributor of this article in Henry Howe’s history.

If only we could rewrite the history of Native Americans and pioneers in the Ohio country with the spirit of this anecdote. The smell of baking bread could summon peace in the hearts of most anyone.

Christine Hayes

Madame Rose Brown, singer, Broadway actress



Madame Rose Brown was an little known legend in Columbus music until historian Doug Tracy sent me this column that appeared in 2008.

The Bright Rose of Bronzeville

By Eddie J. Colston,
The Ohio Sentinel, March 29, 1958 edition

Name any great Columbus entertainer in the past decade and the name Madam Rose Brown will ring a bell. Years ago, Madam was the town’s top performer. Today she still has firm hold on her star studded crown by singing and swinging in the area’s night clubs and plush cocktail lounges.

The young clique will remember Madam more vividly from her weekly TV show a few years ago over WTVN-TV for a segment of “The Rose Brown Show” was devoted to introducing fresh talent.

Born in Savanah, Georgia, Rose Brown came to Columbus to visit relatives. Out on the town one night she did several guest numbers at a couple of popular night haunts. With soulful blues, sexy torch songs and energetic swing style, she had the town’s nightlifers in the palm of her hand. Since then, this has been Rose Brown’s town.

Wasn’t so long ago that Rose rose (and I’m not tongue tied) to the pinnacle of Broadway success, when she costarred with the late Bill Robinson as Katisha in Mike Todd’s The Hot Mikado.” Her Broadway appearance was in a featured role in “My Dear Public,” starring Willie Howard and a long list of today’s top stars.

Rose has added other musical triumphs and flattering press notices to her scrapbook with top billings with The Page Cavanaugh Trio. Louis Jordan’s Band, the Page One Ball, sponsored annually by the Columbus Chapter of the American Newspaper Guild and many others.

Norman Nadel, Columbus Citizen’s celebrated theatrical editor and big voice in show business recently penned a lengthy feature on Rose Brown. Nadel said, “I thought of shows I’d seen, singers I heard in Manhattan nightspots where the cover charge would buy food for a family of six. Once in a blue moon you might hear a singer like Rose. People from Columbus go to those New York clubs when they travel east. They could do as well or better, listening to this handsome dark-skinned woman singing in a little club on High Street.”

Another thrill for Rose was her invitation to audition for the role of Bloody Mary in the original “South Pacific” cast. “Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein brought me to New York,” she recalled happily, “and I sang the part for them. But when I saw Juanita Hall do it, I told them to go ahead and pick her, because she was perfect for the part. But I would have loved it.”

Currently, Rose is slated to make a series of films or live appearances on WTVN-TV doing Negro spirituals.

The final note on the Madame Rose saga comes from pianist and drummer Bobby Shaw. “In 1960 I was with a duo at the New Frontier on Trabue Road called Chickadee and Chickadoo and our guest vocalist was Madam Rose. She was great, as usual, but one night she left early because she was ill. She died at home that night.”

Arnett Howard

Doctor Bop, WCOL-AM


I was a youngster of six years old, the oldest of four brothers and I was laying in bed one night, listening to WCOL-AM. The voice I heard was of Hoyt Locke and he said, “This is Dr. Bop on the sceeeene, with a stack of shellac and my record machine. A little country boy from across the track, so down with it baby that I’ll never go back.”

Now, let’s make clear that Hoyt Locke was not the first deejay playing rhythm and blues/rock and roll on Columbus airwaves; that distinction comes to WVKO’s Eddie Saunders, who in 1955 was Jumpin’ Jive at Five-O-Five. But Dr. Bop was the first to create a rock and roll culture in Central Ohio.

Locke and his brother, Edgar, came to WCOL-AM in 1956, as clients for Bop Records, located at 474 E. Main Street. They were at the studios creating fifteen minute infomercials, when the announcer got up an left, leaving the the station without a voice. The studio engineer asked Hoyt to take over and the fifteen minutes became a six hour, all night broadcast.

The first paid advertising for Dr. Bop was City Service Gasoline, at Garfield and Mt. Vernon Avenues, purchasing three months worth of air time. Soon it was followed by City Gas, Certified Oil, the Beverly Drive-Ins, Buckeye Potato Chips and other locally owned business.

Dr. Bop was flamboyant, controversial and his race wasn’t hidden. He referred to his “silver foxes”, young White women who followed his show. He stayed with WCOL until 1959 and in 1960, he went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to star in radio there.

Locke was born in Chatanooga, Tennessee, March 11, 1912 and his family moved to Barthman Avenue on Columbus’ Southside. He attended Reeb Avenue Elementary School and he passed away a month shy of sixty-four on February, 24, 1976. But, according to the book Life is a Jukebox, by former WCOL announcer Rick Minerd, Dr. Bop popularized rock and roll/rhythm and blues among Whites and created an identity for WCOL that made it the number one station for the next several years.

Arnett Howard

Colo: Part Two



Earle Davis, the Columbus Zoo director in 1956, went to the Columbus City Council and asked for $11,000 in emergency funds to build Colo, the first gorilla born in captivity, a state-of-the art nursery suitable for viewing her by the public. He got it.

More than a million people visited the zoo in 1957. Colo was a well-behaved infant who quickly became spoiled by all her nursemaids. She was actually dressed and wore diapers. Many, if not most, gorilla babies were taken from their mothers in those days.

Scientists from the Ohio State University’s college of Medicine did a controversial study on Colo. Colo has been involved in publicity stunts to pick winners of sporting events, by choosing blocks with pictures on them. Baron Mocambo and Millie were expected to have more offspring, but they did not.

When Colo was two, she was introduced to Bongo, a nineteen-month-old male from Africa. On February 1, 1968, Colo gave birth to Emmy, named after M.E. “Jack” Sensenbrenner, the mayor of Columbus. Colo and Bongo had two more babies, named Oscar and Toni, the trend being the baby names described awards.

For twenty-five years Colo and Bongo were together and were on constant display. They grew bored with each other. Bongo was mated with other females. Mating gorillas, in cooperation with many other zoos, has given Colo sixteen grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren. In all, twenty-seven gorillas have been born at the Columbus Zoo. Colo did not raise her own offspring but did raise her twin grandsons (another Columbus first: twins) and was surrogate mother to another nursery-raised gorilla.

After years of “gorilla science” of sparse cages, no bedding, no stimulation, no mother-raised gorillas, the feeling in the Ape House was always tense. Dian Fossey came to the Columbus Zoo in 1983, and demonstrated her gorilla vocalizations to the staff. She suggested hay for bedding, long grass in the yard, cut-up food for foraging, a diverse vegetarian diet with protein supplements, mother-and-child rearing, group living, and stimulating environments with multi-levels and ropes for climbing. Watermelon became a favorite food of the gorillas and Bongo loved to eat pesticide-and-thorn-free roses grown for him by a zoo docent.

Some babies still had to be nursery-raised, as their mothers rejected them or could not adequately breast-feed them. The gorillas were also susceptible to diseases such as tuberculosis, viruses, and bacterial infections. Many Columbus doctors and veterinarians got involved with the gorillas. On many occasions the gorillas were taken to regular hospitals to have access to advanced equipment.

Jack Hanna’s directorship of the Columbus Zoo lent a positive attitude toward keeper-led decisions, and his visit to Howlett’s Zoo in England, run by John Aspinall who took chances in the animals’ favor, also led Hanna’s thinking toward age-diversified groups of gorillas.

Columbus can be proud of its gorilla facilities and of its on-site training for other zoos. After reading Jeff Lyttle’s Gorillas in Our Midst: the Story of the Columbus Zoo Gorillas, it made me think of family groups in general, how more individuals and age-groups can color everyone’s life-experience (for the better, one hopes.)

Colo is still the prima donna of the Columbus gorillas, she poses for her photos and still displays the “spunk” she had as a baby.

Christine Hayes

Colo: The Pride of the Columbus Zoo



Colo, the first gorilla to be born in captivity anywhere in the world, was born right here in the Columbus Zoo. She is also, at age fifty-five, the oldest gorilla anywhere in captivity.

In January 1951, the Columbus Zoo paid $10,000 to purchase three gorillas from a gorilla hunter who had killed many gorillas to get the trio. It is a tragic background story to the Columbus gorilla legend.

Baron Macambo was the name of the largest gorilla, five years old, and the alpha male. Zoo director Earle Davis had to consult the Ohio Penitentiary for advice on bars strong enough to hold him.

Gorilla science was in its infancy in the 1950’s. The gorillas were fed meat; in the wild they are vegetarians. The three gorillas were kept apart in small cages; in the wild they live in family groups.

A naming contest for the two younger ones came up with Christopher (as in Christopher Columbus) and Christina. Later, the female would be called Millie Christina after Earle Davis’s wife, Millie.

Davis soon traded Christopher to a zoo in Basel, Switzerland in exchange for two rhinos and two cheetahs. In 1956 the remaining two Columbus gorillas had a secret: they were allowed overnight conjugal visits by their keeper, a twenty-five- year-old veterinary student named Warren Thomas. (Thomas later became the distinguished director of several zoos.)

Davis had forbidden the gorillas to be together, as he thought the two would be aggressive to each other. Now it is accepted that gorillas are capable of rough play.

Warren Thomas watched the gorillas and he knew when to put them together. He also was the only person who knew Millie was seven and a half months pregnant. It seems that it is difficult to tell when gorillas are pregnant, not the least reason is that it is often dangerous to get near them, and equally dangerous to tranquilize them to examine them. Many gorillas have died from the tranquilizing process.

Thomas finally told Davis about the pregnancy. Davis was elated. But no one knew a gorilla’s gestation period. Millie actually gave birth when no one was watching. Thomas found the amniotic sac on the cage floor, and thought the baby gorilla inside was dead. It was simply luck that he found it after a few minutes of the birth.

Thomas lured the mother away, took the baby to another area, and broke the sac. He sponged the baby, massaged it, and gave it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The baby finally started to breathe on her own. Others were summoned to look at the scrawny, wrinkled thing with big beautiful eyes. She was born on Dec. 22, 1956.

In the flurry of excitement, J. Wallace Huntington, the newly appointed chairman of the Zoo Commission, got locked into the Great Ape House. While everyone was admiring the newborn, Huntington had gone to check on the mother and accidentally locked himself in. A passerby finally heard his cries for help after an hour and freed him.

Overnight, the Columbus Zoo went from being a typical small zoo to making headlines worldwide. Columbus Mayor Maynard Sensenbrenner started handing out cigars saying, “It’s a Girl.” A Christmas star was erected above the Ape House. The Columbus Citizen ran a “Name the Gorilla Contest.” The newspaper put up $25 as a prize, and actor Clark Gable added a $100 savings bond. Mr.Gable had become enamored of gorillas while working on the film Mogambo.

The name “Colo” was chosen, a combination of Columbus and Ohio. But Colo needed more than name. The gorilla baby spent her first few days in rags in a cardboard box next to a heater. Colo needed a new nursery, and fast.

Next: Part Two of the Colo story: the Generations of Gorillas to Come.

Christine Hayes

Henry Howe's Columbus Humor




Henry Howe (1816-1893) was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of a publisher-printer. He learned the printing trade, wrote for local newspapers, and worked in his uncle’s New York bank. He wrote many books of state history, including Historical Collections of New York (1841), Historical Collections of New Jersey (1842), Historical Collections of Virginia (1845).

Historical Collections of Ohio came out in 1847, the best seller of histories in Ohio in the 19th century, besting even Grant’s memoirs.

Howe was married and moved to Cincinnati in 1848. He wrote more books there, mostly on history and travel. From 1856-1861 he wrote Our Whole Country, but the timing was not right due to the Civil War. Times of the Rebellion in the West was profitable after the War.

A second Ohio history was begun in 1885. Howe was the first American to try the concept of advanced paying subscriptions. In 1891 he completed the three-volume history, with financial help from the Ohio Legislature. But Howe was deeply in debt when he died in 1893. The state of Ohio bought the printing plates and copyright, due to a petition circulated by senators and governors and others, relieving Howe’s widow of debt. The state reprinted the books for years.

Howe encapsulates the history of Columbus well – and includes the dry humor of one E.O. Randall, ex-President of the Columbus Board of Trade, in his essay, “Columbus, Its Past and Present.” In speaking of the four residents of Franklinton – Starling, Johnson, McLaughlin, and Kerr --who made the state a capital offer they couldn’t resist: “One lot for the State House and one lot for the Penitentiary – the foresighted and impartial founders of the capitol realizing that equal and immediate quarters should be provided alike for the law makers and the law breakers.”

The newspaper known as the Western Intelligencer, originating in Worthington, became the Western Intelligencer & Columbus Gazette in Columbus, and then became the Ohio State Journal. Randall writes: “It continued to be published as the Columbus Gazette until 1884, when its future fell into the hands of the writer of these lines, who after a praiseworthy effort to revive its pristine glory and power, transferred it to the party led by the apostles of temperance; it then soon disappeared entirely.”

“In December, 1816, the legislature arrived in Columbus and took up its quarters in the old, red-brick State-house and began that continuous and monotonous grind of passing laws one winter and remodeling them and repealing them the next.”

Randall’s description of the opening of the State House: “It was a stupendous festival, in which every inch of interior was packed with a seething, panicky, perspiring mass of humanity squeezed almost to speechlessness. The music could not be heard, and the elaborate menu invariably spilled on the dress suits of the beaux and the decollete shoulders of the belles.”

Randall’s take on the arts in Columbus: “A goodly number of painters haunt the halls of the public buildings, and at times frighten or delight the passer-by with the display in the shop windows of their glowing colors upon the canvas backs. Music soothes with its charms the unstrung nerves of the busy burgesses.”

“Columbus numbers some fifty churches having buildings of their own. To offset the religious influences, ‘the world, the flesh, and the devil’ offer some 600 saloons and places where internal fires and eternal damnation are dispensed.”

“The City Jail is highly spoken of by those who have stopped there. The rooms are airy, the bill-of-fare, if not containing all the delicacies of the season, is wholesome and inexpensive to the guests.”

“The railroads, of course, run their tracks where they please – across streets and thoroughfares, without regard to the comfort or the cost to the city; but, as railroads go, they are considerate, and when they run over a street-car, a cab, or a citizen they usually express regret.”

Howe must have recruited many writers to help him flesh out his histories. Let us hope they were all as entertaining as Mr. Randall.

Christine Hayes

How Columbus Almost Lost It!


Why The Statehouse Took Twenty-Two Years.

Partisan politics and economic downturns are nothing new. The only football being kicked around Columbus in the early to middle 1800’s was political, and that football was the State House.

The Whigs, in 1838, wanted government to play a bigger role, and people to pay more taxes. The Democrats wanted to keep government and the people’s business separate. Does this sound like role reversal? This is a story about the dance the politicians/businessmen did to keep Columbus as the capital and the general public of Ohio supportive of it.

It has everything to do with a little railroad to a quarry near the center of Columbus.

In 1839, when Columbus was twenty-seven years old, the cornerstone of the new State House was laid with much ballyhoo. Then the legislature repealed the whole project, in a fit of pique against certain “unappreciative” citizens of Columbus. Sentiment flared for moving the capital to another Ohio city.

A group of Columbus businessmen stepped in. They had to be subtle. They got a harmless-looking resolution through the legislature which said nothing about a State House, but appointed commissioners to see about buying a quarry (for canal locks and city buildings) and a right-of-way from the quarry to Columbus. Nothing happened for six years and the businessmen laid low.

Then the commissioners were appointed (In all, four boards of commissioners and five architects under two state constitutions and twelve governors, figured in the long era of construction; but we’ll just concentrate on this key part). On this commission were Joseph Ridgway, Jr. and Sam Medary, of Franklin County; and William A. Adams, of Muskingum County.

The aforesaid businessmen formed a charter for the Columbus and Xenia Railroad. This was a bluffing move to get the state to pay for a little railroad from a quarry to the penitentiary. There, the convicts would “dress” the stones in preparation for buildings. The underlying goal was to get some track and a bridge built by the state, which could be used by both railroad projects.

But the legislature languished and the charter did not raise many funds. The canal feeder to Columbus, finished in 1831, was still the focus of transportation.

However, in 1845, the Whigs came into power. Ridgway Jr. held many public offices. He threw a dinner party at the Neil House to support the State House and railroad projects. This time William Neil added his support. The legislature was much more sympathetic. Fat cats wanted progress.

Two quarries were considered: one owned by Medary (Democrat) and one owned by William Starling Sullivant (Whig, and a close associate of Neil). When Sullivant’s was chosen, Medary lambasted the deal in his newspaper, the Ohio Statesman. But Medary soon gave up his interest in the newspaper, as he had lost his job as state printer with the Whig sweep. Medary did get back to incendiary newspapering later.

The Columbus and Xenia railroad operators made a big show of appointing directors and surveying a fifty-four mile route to Xenia. Then all work halted for two years. The penitentiary railroad was the real focus. Three miles of track and a bridge were completed in 1846. Operating the line was the warden of the penitentiary and two penitentiary directors.

Ridgway Jr. was one of the penitentiary directors. Here’s what else he did; he ran an iron foundry, a warehouse business, a freight-forwarding business, he was a director and secretary of the Columbus and Xenia railroad, a member of the Columbus city council, city recorder, State House commissioner, and state representative (all without computers!)

In the 1847 elections, the acrimonious railroad funding issue caused outcries of “monopoly” and “excess taxes” (Sound familiar?). A railroad line to Cleveland was on the ballot. There was revival of the threat to move the capital, fortified by the fact that no work had been done on the State House for years. But the voters in both Columbus and Franklin County went overwhelmingly for the taxes and the railroads. The financial depression of 1837-1847 was over, due to the impetus of the Mexican War, the first telegraph line into Columbus, the newspapers moving into daily printing, better mail and shipping service.

The penitentiary stone project was zipping along. They were making money on convict labor, shipping stone out of Columbus, running the quarry, the railroad and the penitentiary on the profits. The State House commission seized the directorship away from the penitentiary (though Ridgway was on both.)

Then cholera struck. Ridgway died, also many convicts. Sullivant took Ridgway’s place as director. The Columbus and Xenia Railroad opened! Gaslight brightened up Columbus!

Voters rejected new railway taxes, but the die was cast. A spur of railroad was finally built into downtown Columbus (they had been transporting multiple-ton stone by wagon to the State House site). The first locomotive arrived downtown. At first this was a source of merriment. The little line was used to take picnickers to grounds near the quarry site. But Columbus residents soon grew weary of the train’s noise, danger, and smoke.

The railroad line to Cleveland opened in 1851. Fire destroyed the old State House in 1852. The legislature met in halls in Columbus and even though construction of the new State House was “speeded up,” the building was not completed until 1861.

Finally, the little railroad ended. The quarry bridge was taken down, the rails were made into a State House fence. A Civil War soldiers’ hospital was built on the quarry picnic grounds. This became a “soldiers’ home” and then was torn down.

Columbus’s place as the capital was finally secure, after State House construction and shenanigans of twenty-two years.

Christine Hayes

Glen W. Hall: Leader of Ohio's Deaf Community



Glen W. Hall passed on through this life on Saturday, February 18, 2012, at aged ninety-four. However, to his community, the Ohio Association for the Deaf and Portsmouth, Ohio, it is the passage of their leader.

I was honored to open the celebration at Moreland Funeral Home in Westerville by playing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Then I sat and watched the story of a life unfold as his family and friends, all of them using the deaf’s sign language, told of Glen’s successes.

Ben Hall, Glen’s son, started it by telling humorous stories of his dad growing up during two World Wars, his life as a boxer, a multisport athlete from the 1930s, a whitewater rafter in his eighties, a mechanic, a pressman for a newspaper in Sandusky, a union pressman who fought the discrimination of being deaf in his hometown of Portsmouth. And all along the way, Glen used his strength to help deaf folks find interpreters and find employment.

Ryan Hall told of traveling to California with his grandfather in 2011 to find a long lost brother and how the three men bonded. Others came forward to tell stories of how Glen was the leader in the Columbus Colony for the Deaf, how he was a bowler, how he helped them find a job, how he care so much about the deaf community of Portsmouth that he brought people together.

The sign language of others told how Glen Hall was the organizer and life-member of the Ohio Association of the Deaf and how he attended meetings nationwide for the benefit of his people. He packed life into ninety-four years and he is the last of the orginals.

But Glen Hall’s legacy lives in his sons, his grandson and those who celebrated his passing through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He made an impact that you didn’t have to hear.

Arnett Howard