A Scoot and Shoot event.
Being located on the Ohio River just across the water from Kentucky, Cincinnati in particular, and Ohio in general were heavily engaged in the Underground Railroad and former slaves’ journeys to freedom. A small town just north of Cincinnati called Springboro was founded by a Quaker named Jonathon Wright in 1815. The Quakers abhorred slavery and Springboro became actively involved in the Underground Railroad. Quaker and non-Quaker residents of Springboro risked legal consequences from their illegal activity of aiding slaves on their way to freedom. Many of the homes and businesses of these courageous individuals are still standing on or near Main Street in the small downtown strip of Springboro, Ohio.
Unfortunately, even though I had a brochure that described the various buildings, I am not able to match the exact buildings to the descriptions I have. We started the tour somewhere in the middle, later crossed the street, and ducked into the Wooly Bully Yarn Company at one point. Which, by the way, had an awesome selection of yarns. On these Scoot and Shoot events my companions are more interested in taking photographs than in writing journalistic reports. And sometimes I am too.
At 200 South Main Street the Jonah Thomas House has a documented connection to the Underground Railroad.
Jonah was a Quaker and a conductor on the Springboro leg of the Underground Railroad.
I think this is the Joseph Stanton House at 250 South Main Street. According to the Springboro Chamber of Commerce brochure, “This building was a stop on the Underground Railroad which may have been known as the ‘Quilt House.’ Quilts hung in back of the house told runaway slaves it was safe to enter. The basement hiding space extended westward under what is now the side walk.”
I’m patting myself on the back that I was able to bring you two buildings that were involved in the Underground Railroad, but instead of trying to read illegible house numbers, or match my photos to small black and white thumbnails on the brochure, I’m just going to throw in a slide show of some of the buildings and details I saw along Main Street in Springboro. Perhaps you’ll take the walking tour someday if you find yourself in the area.
I don’t know about you, but I have always been enthralled by the idea of an Underground Railroad. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center stands on the riverfront in downtown Cincinnati and teaches about not only the path to freedom through this area, but also about current locations where freedom is still out of reach. It’s worth a visit if you are in town. Maybe I’ll visit there with my camera, and a notebook, sometime soon and share my identified pictures with you.
Do you live where an interesting part of history took place?
A few weeks ago we spent the afternoon visiting the Cincinnati Museum Center and immersed ourselves in thoughts of the past sparked by the pots, coins, weapons, jewelry and writings from the beginnings of Western civilization. The Israel Antiquities Authority has made a sample of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other historical objects from the “the Holy Land” available for public viewing. Below I try to bring you an abbreviated history of the time period involved along. I hope you’ll bear with me. One thing I became painfully aware of while touring this exhibit was how little I know of world history generally and Middle East history specifically. Something I hope to remedy.
You might know the story. In 1947 a young Bedouin shepherd finds a cave in a crevice of the limestone cliffs lining the rim of the Dead Sea near the site of Qumran, east of the city of Jerusalem. The shepherd tosses a rock into the cave and hears pottery breaking. He investigates further and finds a collection of large clay jars that contain old scrolls. He has no idea of the historic and religious treasure he has discovered.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are the collection of ancient religious writings, documents and letters, found in eleven caves near the site of Qumran. Some scrolls were found intact, but many were in fragments of parchment and papyrus.
The biblical manuscripts contain “books found in today’s Hebrew bible.” The non-biblical texts written during the Second Temple era are related to the texts in the Hebrew Bible. Some describe religious beliefs and practices of a specific religious community. (Exhibit signage)
Jerusalem, sitting high in the Judan hills and roughly at the center of ancient Israel, was inhabited as early as the 4th millenium BCE. “King David chose the city for his capital, probably because the territory did not belong to any of the tribes, but also because its location on a hill meant it would be difficult to attack. […]” (Exhibit signage)
“The exact site of David’s Jerusalem remains hotly debated. Under King Solomon a permanent home—the First Temple—was built for the Ark of the Covenant atop Mount Moriah, and the fate of the city as the dwelling place of the Isralite’s god was sealed.” (Exhibit signage)
The First Temple (960 – 586 BCE) period began during the Iron Age while the kingdoms of Judah and Northern Israel were still divided. The first Isralite Kingdom was united under David and Solomon.
The biblical texts found in the Dead Sea Scrolls are believed to have been composed during this time.
Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written between the 2nd Century BCE and 2nd Century CE, during a time when different Judean groups struggled to obtain and maintain political and religious leadership.
The Judean Kingdom came to an end with the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of citizens to Babylon in 586 BCE. The temple was utterly destroyed. “With neither Temple or homeland the exiles began to place their sacred writings at the center of their faith.” (Exhibit signage)
The Second Temple was built after 539 BCE when the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem. The Persians maintained control of the area until 332 BCE when Alexander the Great conquered Judea. This began the Hellenistic era. Most of the non-biblical texts of the Deep Sea Scrolls from Qumran date to this period.
Judea lost its independence to the Romans the first century BCE. After an unsuccessful Jewish revolt, Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE and much of the population was killed or enslaved. After the second revolt failed between 132 and 135 CE, the Roman emporer renamed the region Syria Palestina. He renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina and forbade Jews to enter.
The Post Second Temple time period included Roman rule from 73 – 324 CE, followed by the Byzantine from 324 – 638 CE. Palestine came under Islamic rule with the conquest of Jerusalem in 638 CE. Judea was incorporated into the Islamic Empire from the 7th – 11th centuries, known as the Early Islamic era.
Then the Christians came.
Christian Crusaders from Europe were the dominant power in “the Holy Land” from the 12th – 13th centuries.
At this point in the exhibit, we were ready to enter the room that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls, and photographs were prohibited. The scrolls were displayed in glass cases in a large ring in the middle of the room that visitors could walk around. Although translations and explanations were displayed beside each fragment of the scrolls, I could only imagine how thrilling it would have been to actually be able to read the writings. You can view images of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library.
The other thing that struck me as I moved slowly around the ring, looking at these writings that were done so many years ago, was the realization that in a time period where communication of the written word was painstakingly done by scribes with ink and parchment and hand-delivered by walking or perhaps riding an animal of one sort or the other, these biblical stories were preserved, transferred, dispersed geographically, and carried on through the ages. It causes one to wonder.
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times will be on display at the Cincinnati Museum Center through April 14. The first set of ten scrolls, including Genesis; Numbers; Samuel and Psalms among others, were on display until Jan. 28. They were rotated out and a brand new set will be on display until the exhibit’s last day on April 14.
“Because of the fragility of the scrolls, they may only be on display for three months at a time before they must “rest” in complete darkness for one year. The new rotation includes scrolls of Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah Commentary, Book of War, Aramaic Levi, Pseudo-Ezekiel, Apocryphal Lamentations, Papyrus Bar, Community Rule and Leviticus/Numbers.
“Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times is created by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) from the collections of the Israel National Treasures and produced by Discovery Times Square and The Franklin Institute. Local community partners include Presenting Sponsor: The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, and Associate Sponsors: the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Diocese of Southern Ohio, SC Ministry Foundation, Office of the Provost, University of Cincinnati, and Xavier University, among others. Special Exhibit Partner: Hebrew Union College. http://www.cincymuseum.org/press/dead-sea-scrolls-rotation.” (Cincinnati Museum Center).
Sources of Information:
Signage at the exhibit: The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times, by the Israel Antiquities Authority, Viewed at the Cincinnati Museum Center, January 2013
‘Tis the time of year to think about gratitude. Gratitude always reminds me of the time I spent volunteering at Our Daily Bread in Over-the-Rhine, downtown Cincinnati, in 2006. Our Daily Bread provides a warm meal, social services and socialization for neighborhood residents.
You know from some of my recent posts about Cincinnati that Over-the-Rhine is making a resurgence and that Mark and I frequently visit the local restaurants or entertainment venues there now. But in 2006, it could still a bit rough in some parts of the neighborhood at times. What follows is a short op-ed I wrote, submitted, and was published in “Your Voice” in the Cincinnati Enquirer, December 24, 2006.
Guardian Angels in Over the Rhine
Guardian angels come from unexpected places.
This fall I volunteered at Our Daily Bread in Over the Rhine where I met Ted, a well-liked and regular guest.
“I am 75 years old and proud of it,” Ted claims. He has a limp that he acquired from a war wound in Vietnam and walks slowly with a wooden cane. A long black rosary hangs around his neck and a royal blue ball cap rests on his head with his wiry gray hair sticking out of the bottom. Ted’s eyes are brown and his smile is genuine. He has street smarts and is quick to laugh during conversations.
Ted’s financial difficulties come from the fact that he’s an alcoholic and has made bad choices in the past.
As I was leaving Our Daily Bread that day I witnessed a fight. One man was pressed up against a car yelling, “Help! Call the police.” People were standing around on the sidewalks just watching.
When the men separated and I saw the gleam of a knife in one of their hands, I hurried back inside Our Daily Bread to get help. A few minutes later the situation diffused itself as one of the men left.
The following week I spoke with Ted again. I asked him why nobody wanted to do anything to help this guy who was taking a beating. The people, Ted said, “Don’t care. Don’t want to be involved.”
“If I was in trouble, do you think someone would help me?” I asked him.
“I would,” he said.
As I was getting ready to leave, Ted asked, “Are you going to be all right?”
“I’ll be fine,” I said.
He stood up and started walking behind me. He wanted to know where I had parked. I reassured him that my car was just across the street and a few car-lengths away. He continued with me as I went outside. He stood there on the corner on that chilly autumn day and watched me get into my car and drive away.
I smiled as I thought, “What is Ted going to do, at his age and with his disability, if I need help?” And then I felt my eyes begin to fill with tears at his noble gesture.
Ted returned my wave as I drove past, then he turned around and slowly walked back into the soup kitchen on a corner in Over the Rhine.
I mention Ted’s story today when I want to remind everyone of gratitude, because on any given day you could ask Ted, “How are you?” and without fail, he would answer, “I’m blessed.”
As my American friends are getting ready to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving, and for my international friends for who it is always a good idea to remember and be grateful, I thought I would leave a couple of “Pocket Positives” from another one of my little books:
“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill, British Statesman, Prime Minister and Writer
“I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door; I’ll go through another door — or I’ll make a door: Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.” ~ Joan Rivers, American Comedian
“May I a small house, and large garden have. And a few Friends, and many Books, both true, both wise, and both delightful too.” ~ Abraham Cowley, English Poet
“How to be happy when you are miserable. Plant Japanese poppies with cornflowers and mignonette, and set out the petunias among the sweet-peas so they shall scent each other. See the sweet-peas coming up.”~ Rumer Godden, English Writer
I give thanks for parents who raised me, a husband who loves and supports me, children who enrich my life, a little dog who keeps me company and all of nature that surprises and thrills me, friends who lighten my spirits, and all of you for sharing this time of your life with me. Happy Thanksgiving.
“If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.” Khalil Gibran ~ On Death
Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati is one of the largest nonprofit cemeteries in the United States.
It is a National Historic Landmark with graves of both revolutionary war and civil war soldiers.
“When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight. . .” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Footsteps of Angels
Spring Grove is a beautiful cemetery and is famous for its lawn plan, unconventional at the time of its creation, but now a model for many other cemeteries.
The designer, Strauch, “believed in developing the landscape to harmonize with nature. He re-routed roads to follow the natural shapes of Spring Grove’s hills and valleys.
He built lakes, islands, footbridges, protected woodland areas,
and brought hundreds of trees and plants from other parts of the world,” (Spring Grove Cemetery).
“Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy! ” John Keats ~ Ode to a Nightingale
The varied landscaping transports you from what might be a mysterious Louisiana swampland
to a stately Georgian plantation.
“Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.” Emily Dickenson
Gravemarkers range from the elaborate—
buildings made of marble and stone,
this one boasting flying buttresses—
to the simple.
“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so . . .” John Donne
“I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.” W. B. Yeats ~ An Irish Airman Foresees his Death
“Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.” Christina Rossetti ~ Remember
Last night we went on a BB Riverboat cruise on the Ohio River with Scoot and Shoot from the West Chester Photo Club. The minute I stepped on the boat and looked around, I noticed the clouds—they were putting on a show.
It was just before dusk, and to our west, off the back of the boat, the Roebling Bridge and Paul Brown Stadium were becoming silhouettes against the evening sky.
We were on the Newport, Kentucky side of the river looking across at the Great American Ballpark and the Great American Building’s princess tiara in downtown Cincinnati.
Mark made himself comfortable on the third floor deck, while I shot around for a little while.
The sun started to set behind us, over the Roebling Bridge,
casting its rays up to Mount Adams that sparkled back in reply.
We passed stately church of the Immaculata, a beacon of light and hope from its high perch up on Mount Adams.
The sun behind us began to color the sky,
creating a soft pastel backdrop behind the Cincinnati skyline across the river from where we were
on the Belle of Cincinnati.
The nearly full moon rose to light the night sky.
Little lights along the hillside road reflected in streamers out across the water.
The curtain of clouds opened to reveal the hilltop buildings as we passed by.
Ahead turbulent clouds serpentined over our path,
yet behind us the sky remained soft and tranquil.
The lights from a little church begged for my star filter,
as I captured the light that shined in the darkness.
Sending you the wish that you may always find a light in the dark.
You can see a photograph of the wall before the mural as well as a picture of the Charlie Harper painting here.
“Founded in 1996, ArtWorks is a non-profit arts organization that connects artists of all ages with opportunities in the arts through inspiring apprenticeships, community partnerships, and public art,” (Artworks/about us/ organizational information).
Tamara Harkavy, CEO and Artistic Director, has served at the helm of Artworks since its beginning. The Charlie Harper mural is one of ten painted this year. Created in partnership with Charley Harper Art Studio and Court St. Executive Suites, this rendition of Harper’s “Homecoming (Bluebirds)” is the largest Artworks’ mural to date.
Born in West Virginia in 1922, Charley Harper came to Cincinnati to study and later teach art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He became well-known as a wildlife artist. Charley Harper passed away on Sunday, June 10, 2007. (About Charley Harper). His son Brett Harper represented his father’s work at the mural’s dedication. This is the second Harper mural. The only other one is in Dayton near The Green.
Jenny Ustick, the lead artist, worked with two teaching artists and a group of students to produce this beautiful piece of art on Court Street in downtown, Cincinnati.
Over the last 16 years, Artworks has produced 46 murals in Cincinnati and three other cities. As we walked the few blocks from our Underground tour to the Charley Harper mural, we passed this 2008 Artworks’ mural, “What’s Happening Downtown,” on Walnut Street,
and this new mural on Vine Street at the Kroger headquarters.
You can find more information about this year’s and the previous years’ murals at the Artworks website.
Read my post from last year, Artworks is painting up the town.
American Legacy Tours
Mark and I enjoyed our Iconic Cincinnati tour so much that we decided to take another American Legacy Tour. This time we went underground.
The Queen City Underground: Bosses, Breweries, and Burials tour from American Legacy Tours is billed “a stroll through the Gateway District, home to America’s largest set of historical landmarks.”
John Funcheon was our informative and entertaining tour guide. He knew a LOT about Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine area. He also was very good at jumping from a normal speaking voice to a loud projecting voice when a noisy truck rumbled past.
At our first stop, John pointed out the Italianate architecture on the buildings across the street. This style of architecture is predominant in the OTR district.
When the Germans came to Cincinnati in the 1800s, they settled in Over the Rhine. OTR became a thriving community, boasting a population of up to 48,000 people at its height (the population would later plummet to about 4,000 as people moved to the suburbs). In the 1800s, theaters, breweries, saloons, bars, and beer gardens lined the streets.
The theater in this building hosted a shooting competition sometime around 1875. A well-known marksman, Frank E. Butler, was coming to town. A young Ohioan woman named Phoebe Ann Moses, who learned how to shoot out of the necessity to provide food and money for her family, entered the contest. Much to his surprise, Phoebe beat Frank Butler, and married him later. Phoebe continued to perform under the name Annie Oakley. You can read more details of Annie Oakley’s life at Women in History or The Dorchester Library.
The Cosmopolitan Theater in Germania Hall at 1313 Vine Street navigated through the changing times in Over the Rhine. It was built in 1855 as a beer garden and dance hall. In the 1890s, it was renamed Cosmopolitan Hall. “Over the decades, it was used for several different things, including a Prohibition-era speakeasy, an indoor golf complex, insurance offices, a lighting retailer, and a wallpaper store. [… ] In the early 1990s, the second floor dance hall was renovated for scenes in the movie A Rage in Harlem.” (From Creepy Cincinnati.com) More recently the building became The Warehouse, a notorious bar and entertainment venue. It has been empty since the Warehouse closed in 2004.
Henry Holtgrewe, Cincinnati’s ‘strongman’, performed on stage here at the turn of the century. He entertained people by lifting crazy heavy stuff. One of his more famous feats was lifting two baseball teams in a ball park. Eleven players from Cincinnati, and eleven players from the Cubs stood on a platform. Holtgrewe got under it and raised the men in the air with his back. Our well-informed tour guide, John, told us this and other entertaining stories. I subsequently read more about Henry in his obituary posted in The Day, January 4, 1917.
Bosses and Beer Gardens
In 1873 Henry Wielert established a bar in this building. The beer garden, behind the building, sported a glass dome where patrons were entertained with a 40-piece symphony orchestra. Some pretty interesting meetings probably took place in this building. George Barnsdale, known as “Boss” Cox, held some of his meetings here.
John explained to us how Cincinnati fell under the control of “Boss” Cox, “one of the most infamous and powerful political bosses in American history.” (American Heritage pamphlet). But truthfully, I don’t have a good mind for politics and most of what John said just washed right over me. I did later read about Cox’s “drumming up illegal voters” for favored candidates and the way he stopped police raids on his bar by running for city council in Cincinnati in 1879, and serving for two terms.
“While Cox never held political office after his second term as city councilman, he virtually ran the Cincinnati city government by becoming a city boss. Like other city bosses, Cox used gifts and money to build support for himself among the working class in Cincinnati. During elections, Cox would then have his followers vote for the candidate that he supported. [. . .] By the late 1800s, if a person sought a political office in Cincinnati, he had to receive Cox’s endorsement to win the office.” (Ohio History Central)
One thing I do remember about John’s informative and entertaining tour was that the “speak easy” that sprouted up after Prohibition, wasn’t a loud or boisterous place like portrayed in movies. Speak easys were so called because no one wanted to rouse suspicion by being noisy when they were imbibing on the sly.
So far we hadn’t really been underground on this Underground tour, but that was about to change.
In the mid-1800s, it really wasn’t safe to drink the water. And many people didn’t. They drank beer instead. Although the beer that they drank during the daytime was only 2% alcohol.
All this was good for the brewery business. And breweries popped up everywhere in the Over the Rhine district where the Germans knew how to make and drink their beer.
Construction on the building now called the Guildhaus was begun in 1880 by the nephew of a local brewer, John Kauffman. The brewery expanded to a location across Hamer Street where a bottling plant was established. Like most others, this brewery produced beer until Prohibition in 1919.
I can’t tell you what happened in this building over the next 80 or 90-some years, but recently someone purchased it to turn it into apartments. The new owner was looking at blueprints of the site and noticed a sub-basement on the drawings. So one day he got a jack-hammer, and cracked through the basement floor creating an entry into a maze of tunnels, and cavernous rooms with arched ceilings, below.
In the 1800s, before refrigeration, beer was made below-ground because the temperatures were cooler. Beer needed to be brewed at 43 degrees. The caverns underground naturally maintained a temperature of about 55 degrees. Ice was brought in from the frozen great lakes in the winter, and cold water was run through pipes lining the ceilings to cool this sub basement from 55 degrees to 43.
Once refrigeration became possible, the brewery moved the production up one floor to the basement because it was better and easier for several reasons. They left a hole open in the basement and refuse, largely composed of coal ash, was simply dumped into the sub-basement creating a large pile over time.
This is why you pay to go on these tours. There is simply no way I can explain to you how cool it was to be underground, in these rooms, imagining the people who worked here.
When Kaufmann expanded his production facility to include a building across Hamer Street, he built a tunnel going under the street and joining into the sub-basement on the other side. John said there is evidence that a large percentage of the buildings in this area of the city have sub-basements.
The process of beer-making created undesirable gasses like carbon dioxide and monoxide which had to be vented somehow from this enclosed below-ground space. Small openings at the bottom of the walls that look like fireplaces served that purpose. Again, I probably should have been paying closer attention, but I was trying to figure out why the once-stone floor was now covered with dirt. John later explained that the building leaked, and over the years dirt had made its way in with the rain.
“By 1919, Prohibition had driven most of the breweries out of business. Christian Moerlein alone had employed over 500 people. Along with World War I sentiments, this was the beginning of the decline of OTR’s population and cultural homogeneity.” (Cincinnati.com)
The population of Over the Rhine is now growing again for the first time in 90 years. The Guildhaus now contains highly sought-after apartments. The stately building, making a comeback in the Over the Rhine renaissance, gives off no outward sign of the secrets that lie beneath.
Mark and I would like to find out more about the beer-making families in Over the Rhine. One of Mark’s ancestors is a Gertrude Niehaus.I suspected Gertrude was from a family of beer-makers because of research I had done about the Niehaus families in Cincinnati at the time. When I was doing research for this post I came across the Queen City Chapter.com and found a Captain Henry Niehaus who operated THE HENRY NIEHAUS BREWERY located on Sycamore Street near 13th from 1861 to 1868, and a Joseph Niehaus who established the NIEHAUS BREWERY, an ale brewery, on Woodward (now 13th) from 1850 to 1862. It would be fun to make a connection into one of those families.
Our last stop on the Underground tour was St. Francis Church, just across Vine Street from the Guildhaus.
When this church was built a cemetery on the site had to be moved. A mass grave was created in a crypt under the church for those individuals whose families didn’t claim or move their burial site. Cracked tombstones line the walls,
and whole, intact tombstones pave the area above the grave.
Like the Guildhaus, the altar of St. Francis shows no sign of the secrets that lie beneath.
We ended our tour and trip to Over the Rhine as any self-respecting German, or Irishman for that matter, would do, and joined our tour guide John at Lackman’s corner bar for a brew to quench our thirst, cool our throats, and lighten our spirits.
Did I mention John was informative and entertaining?
Thanks, John, for a great tour.
“Herman Lackman and J. H. Sandman open THE LACKMAN AND SANDMAN BREWERY at Sixth and Stone Streets and operate it from 1860 to 1868. In 1868, Lackman buys out Sandman and renames the brewery HERMAN LACKMAN BREWING CO., UNITED STATES BREWERY. THE HERMAN LACKMAN BREWING CO., UNITED STATES BREWERY operates until 1890.” (Queen City Chapter.com)