J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 31

With this section J. Peery Miller’s family comes to Yellow Springs. Because it it noted that he is younger than college age at the time of the move, it is startling to realize just how young he was during his Civil War service.

Mention is made of their address at the corner of Pennell and Phillips. We remind readers that Pennell Street is now the segment of Limestone between Phillips and Dayton Streets. For an illustration of the changes to Limestone and Mills Lawn, see here.

Where the Millers moved in Yellow Springs

SCHOOL LIFE AT ANTIOCH COLLEGE, YELLOW SPRINGS, OHIO

On my return from the army my sister Catharine had plans for our future living fully developed. She had bought property in the village of Yellow Springs with the intention of persuading mother to move off the farm and free herself of the hard work and drudgery which was too great a strain on her vitality. And, too, she had in mind the education of her two minor brothers, Clinton and myself.

The public schools of Yellow Springs and the preparatory school of Antioch College offered elementary advantages far superior to those of our old time district schools and their surroundings, and sister Catharine thought that the time was now ripe for a change that would put our young minds in touch with college life and thought.

While I was somewhat averse to this movement at first because of my close attachment to our old home and neighborhood associates, I soon was convinced of its wisdom and heartily lent a hand to accomplish it.

Mother had no trouble in renting the house and my brothers, Harrison and Samuel, enlarged their farming operations in behalf of mother and us minors.

One early morning in November, 1864, our household equipments were loaded on our farm wagons and, after a drive of twelve miles south, were deposited in our new home, corner of Phillips and Pennell streets, Yellow Springs, Greene county. O.

Sister Kate was soon chosen teacher of one of the grades in the public schools of the village, a position she was well fitted to fill because of her many years’ experience as teacher in the district schools of Clark county. Brother Clinton found his place as a pupil in one of the grade schools and I entered the first year of the Antioch Preparatory Department.

My country school training was not well arranged to meet the systematic requirements of a first class high school, but by close application and persistent effort, I made passing grades. I finished the three year’s preparatory course then prescribed and received a certificate of admission to Antioch College freshman class at the end of the school year 1866-1867, signed by Rev. George T. Hammar, President. I was very proud of this achievement for it represented something commenced and finished, a necessary stepping stone to further advancement.

It is well to note that at this period Ohio had no high schools as a part of the public school system. If one wished to enter college he must complete his high school course at a private academy at his own expense. Most colleges provided a preparatory school under the college management, the courses of study being arranged to meet the entrance requirements of the college freshman class. The teaching was done by or under the immediate direction of an efficient Principal, a member of the college faculty, thus assuring a high standard of proficiency on the part of the Preparatory school graduates.

I continued in college until I reached the Junior year when I thought it would be advisable to stop a year and earn some money before completing the other two years. I later completed the equivalent of the full college course in private study and teaching, but did not avail myself of the privilege of securing a college diploma. Success in teaching because of interest in the profession was of more value to one in securing a position in those days, than the mere possession of a diploma.

My school life at Antioch College was full of enjoyment. Class work was hard but very inspiring. First-class instruction was assured from each man as Dr. Edward Orton in science, Prof. Francis Tiffany in English Language and Rhetoric and a corps of able assistants. It was up to the student to make good in his daily tasks. Careless indifference was not tolerated. Lack of ability to comprehend soon relegated the student to work better adapted to his mental capacity.

Rules and regulations for study and general conduct were printed and copies given each student to ponder over that he might not plead ignorance if he should chance to violate them.

(These “Laws and Regulations” can be found in the bound volume of Antioch catalogues for 1855-1881 among the early numbers. They were largely in force during my period as a student. Horace Mann’s address to the students, giving his ideas on the so-called “Code of Honor” prevailing among students in the colleges of that period, is printed with the catalogue for 1855-1856. Everybody.should read it.)

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Unknown Children (with Attitude)

This photo from the Kahoe glass negative plate collection had only “kids” as an identifying note. What was the cause of their expressions? Too much light in their eyes? Resentment at having play interrupted? In any case, t certainly is a good example of children’s clothing and hairstyles circa 1900.

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CCC Camp Life in March 1937

The March issue of The Hooey was filled mostly with articles about the upcoming departure of a number of the men.

FAREWELL TO THEE
(Editorial)

It seems as though we have just met and now already we are departing and we have to try and forget. This we will find out will be more irritating than leaving our girl friend, not because we were in love, but because we have been the best of friends. We have worked, eaten, slept, joked, played. All of these things we have done together, more so than is done in your home between brother, sister, mother and father. That means that there is more understanding between us than any one else that we call our friend.

Sometimes we have had tough sailing but all of us had backbone enough to weather the storms. They were not as tough as the ones that we are going to have to go through. So you will always look back and say, “Boy, I never had it so good as I had it in Co. 553!” When you think back just see if you don’t wish that you were still a “Rookie” so that you could live this life over again. It sure is going to be hard to get along without you fellows. We have been so used to being together that we will be looking for you weeks after you have gone, so we will have to weather another storm.

Representing all the fellow left in Company 553, we say,

So Long and the Very Best of Good Luck!

The HOOEY Staff

FAREWELL TO THOSE OF OUR FAMILY WHO ARE DEPARTING

Again it comes time to say goodbye to another group of our Company who are going home again—and are going to try their luck in their home towns. Every time that a group leaves, I come to realize more and more what the many fine friendships developed here in camp mean not only to you men, but to us of the camp personnel. We are the leaders of this family, and although some of you may not realize it, we count many of you as being among our very best personal friends, and not just as another enrollee under our supervision.

I have been with Company 553 since June 15, 1934, not quite as long as Earl Blair, Earl Osborn, or Wilfred Moore. Some of the men leaving at the end of this period are among the oldest members of the Company and I have known them as long as 2½ years. I am glad to see men leave, who came here to camp depressed and discouraged, and who have taken a new lease on life here in the CCC and are leaving with their souls again full of hope and with the expectation of a job back home and a chance to marry and support a family as they have hoped for so long. Along with the feeling of gratitude that you may have helped the man to better himself, there is a feeling of loss in seeing some of your best friends leave.

I wish every man who is leaving, the best of luck and happiness, and urge you to write to me at any time that I may be of help to you, in any way. Be sure to give us as references when you apply for a job because we are glad to ave such an opportunity to aid you.

Robert G. Winters

FAREWELL 553

It’s going to be hard to say “Goodybye” after having served 27 months with this Company.

I expect to be lonely after leaving the camp, but I’ll have to get used to it.

I’ve enjoyed working with you all, Officers, Forestry Personnel, and fellow men. You’ve all been fine to me, and I’ve tried to be fair with you all.

I don’t think I’ve made any enemies despite the fact that I’ve been called “Slave Driver, Simon Legree, etc.’” which I think was all in fun.

What I really want to say cannot be expressed by words, so I must say farewell to you all. You’ve all given me memories that can’t be forgotten.

Mike Barbone

MY EXPERIENCES IN THE CCC
By Mike Barbone

I took the oath as an enrollee of the CCC on January 12, 1935 at Youngstown, O., with eighty or more boys who were all members of this Company . From there we went to Fort Knox, Ky., where I was quartered in Area K. We stayed there only five days, while some of the others stayed two weeks or more.

From Fort Knox we were sent to Napoleon, Ohio, where Company 553 was then located. At Napoleon I worked in the stone quarry under Foreman Yarberg. We have to ride twenty-eight miles every day to the stone quarry which was located at Bowling Green, O.

On May fourth a cadre of twenty men were sent to Yellow Springs, O., to make preparation for building a new camp. Three weeks later I was sent here with twenty more men t help the cadre at digging ditches and pouring concrete for the buildings of this camp which was then nothing but a hay field. A week later, the rest of the Company was sent here and quartered in tents. After a few months of hard work, the camp was finally completed.

On July 22, 1935, I was rated as Asst. Leader which I have been until June 1, 1936 when I was rated a leader.

During my twenty-seven months of service in the 3 68s I’ve learned more than you could have learned in any other place. I don’t think that I’ll ever regret it.

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Calling CSI (in 1936)

Many Antioch graduates have gone on to renown, but in the case of Nancy Evans (Titterton), the renown was the wrong kind, as she became a victim in a sensational murder in New York City, as reported in the April 11, 1936 issue of the Evening Independent of Massillon, Ohio:

POLICE ON WATCH FOR MYSTERY MAN
Nearly Nude Body of Former Ohio Girl Found in Bath Tub

PEN IDENTIFIED
Effort is Made to Discover Fingerprints on Pajamas

NEW YORK, April 11. (AP)—An autopsy established today that Mrs. Nancy Evans Titterton, 34-year-old writer and wife of a broadcasting company executive was criminally assaulted before she was strangled with her pajamas in the bathroom of her East river apartment.

Dr. Thomas Gonzales, assistant medical examiner made the announcement as the sole potential clue to the slayer—a fountain pen—was cast aside by the police.

Pen is Discarded As Clue

Assistant Inspector John A. Lyons said the pen, found on Mrs. Titterton’s bed, was established definitely as the woman’s own property.

Her husband had been unable to identify it, and police at first thought it might have been dropped by the slayer.

A sash made from her pajamas, knotted double around her neck, was treated with a silver nitrate solution in an effort to find the slayer’s fingerprints.

Fingerprints on the wall beside the bathtub where Mrs. Titterton’s body was discovered late yesterday were smudged so badly they were worthless, and the officers said.

Lewis Titterton, husband of the victim, told the detectives he never had seen the pen before. The officers assumed the slayer dropped it.

Earlier today after 12 persons questioned for nearly six hours by the police were released, Deputy Chief Inspector Francis J. Kear and Assistant District Attorney William F. O’Rourke announced:

“We have found no new leads in this case. The medical examiner’s autopsy will determine further action.”

Husband Questioned

The victim’s husband, Lewis Titterton, in charge of literature rights and continuities for the broadcasting company, was one of those questioned. The others were two delivery men, who found the body when they entered the unlatched door of the Titterton suite in a fashionable Beekman place apartment building; two janitors, four painters who had been working there yesterday and three persons described as friends of the family.

Titterton who was at his office when notified of the tragedy late in the afternoon, said the last time he saw his wife alive was when he left for work.

Mrs. Titterton, who wrote short stories for a magazine under her maiden name of Nancy Evans, was killed between 11 and 11:30 a.m. police said.

As police reconstructed the tragedy, the slayer entered the apartment by way of the door, choked the pretty, red-haired young woman until she was dead or unconscious, ripped off all of her clothing except her stockings, and then attempted to assault her.

They believe the slayer carried her body to the bathroom and left it face downward in the tub.

A sash made of part of Mrs. Titterton’s pajamas and of a torn piece of a red blouse was knotted around her neck. On her wrists were marks indicating they had been grasped by muscular hands or had been tied.

Clothing Scattered On Floor

At the foot of a bed in the adjoining room where the attack occurred, the police found a shirt and a brassiere which had been torn off her violently.

Buttons, and hooks and eyes from her clothing were found scattered on the floor.

Persons in adjoining apartments said they heard no sound of a struggle.

Police virtually had abandoned the possibility that the crime was committed by a robber. Although Mrs. Titterton’s purse was empty, a platinum ring was left on her finger.

Mrs. Titterton, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Evans of Dayton, O., married her husband, and Englishman, six years ago.

The Countess Alice Hoyos, who occupies an apartment two floors below the Titterton suite, furnished investigators a partial description of a mysterious intruder, a young man who was in the building about eight hours before Mrs. Titterton was found slain.

She said he rang her doorbell about 3 a.m., and said:

“I’m looking for a Miss—,” and mumbled the name.

The countess said the same well-dressed youth had rung her bell twice before within a week between midnight and dawn, giving the same excuse, mumbling a different name each time.

Mrs. Titterton, using her maiden name as nom de plume, was a writer of literary reviews and in the August issue of the magazine Story had published a work of fiction, “I Shall Decline My Head.”

Mrs. Titterton had attended Antioch college at Yellow Springs, O., and came to New York in 1925. From a job of bookselling in the department store she turned to literary reviews. She and Titterton were married in the Little Church Around the Corner, Oct. 5, 1929.

Titterton himself, is a well-known book reviewer.

Showed Literary Talents in School

DAYTON, April 11.—(AP)—Mrs. L. H. Titterton, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Evans, while still in school showed literary talents, probably her first experience in writing being when she was a student in Steele high school.

Later, while attending Antioch college, at Yellow Springs, she was a member of the editorial staff of “The Antiochian,” the college paper, in 1923 and 1924. While at the school; she established a record as a brilliant student.

She left the school in 1924 to accept a position with Doubleday Doran Co., publishers in New York, and in the fall of 1929 was married to L. H. Titterton, executive of the National Broadcasting Co., in New York.

Her parents left here two years ago. They now live in Georgetown, O.

Her father formerly was employed as operator of a a street car company here.

The case was eventually solved in a fairly remarkable fashion.

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Landmark Then and Now

The Kahoe glass plate negative collection provides a photo of one of the most well-known residences in Yellow Springs — the Octagon House at 111. W. Whiteman Street (which was once the subject of an Open House sponsored by the Yellow Springs Historical Society).

On the special qualities of octagon houses, the following is taken from an article in the Sunday, November 17, 1963 issue of the Dayton Daily News:

…Much of its popularity is credited to Orson Squire Fowler, a man n the grand American tradition of spellbinding crackpots.

Often referred to as the prince of phrenology—the pseudo science of reading character by skull bumps—Fowler thought he had found the ideal form for a home, both scientific and economical for the average man.

The idea was not original with Fowler. He discovered it on one of his Western lecture tours and carried it back to the Hudson Valley towns.

He pointed out the undeniable fact that eight walls enclosed more space than four walls of the same length.

He argued that octagon houses were phrenologically sound because this was the most practical form nearest the sphere. (Fowler, as well as many architects a century later argued the sphere to be the most beautiful form of all.)

Not only did the eight sides permit more sunlight, but the shape also eliminated the dark and useless square corners of conventional houses.

The Octagon House

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Town + Gown + Federal Funds, April 1936

Antioch College and Yellow Springs have always had a tightly interwoven town-gown relationship, and this article from the Dayton Daily News of Wednesday, April 15, 1936, details an example of this relationship, aided by federal funding.

Antioch Students Undertaking Major Projects Aided by NYA

YELLOW SPRINGS, April 15.—Construction of one of the most unique stage switchboards of any college in the country, research on a vast photosynthesis project and the selection of better motion pictures for Yellow Springs are being accomplished by Antioch College here under funds allotted by the national youth administration.

The switchboard and light system at the Yellow Springs opera house, built at a price of $900 as compared with a bid of $1750 on half the board made by an electric company, is the work of Richard Ten Eick, White Plains, N. Y., and a crew of four other Antioch students.

Similar to the one in the theater at Yale university, the new switchboard will be part of the permanent equipment of the opera house. Student workers have kept costs at a minimum by designing and constructing parts which would have been too expensive ready made.

Unique feature of the board is its plugging panel of 200 outlets so that an entirely new method of lighting can be used for individual performances. It was utilized during performances of “H. M. S. Pinafore” last month, and was used again April 13 for a production of Robert E. Sherwood’s “Petrified Forest.”

The Fels and Photosynthesis research foundations at Antioch are the largest employers of NYA labor with a total 35 students employed.

Students do the same type of work performed by the more skilled assistants at the photosynthesis research, O. L. Inman, director, declares.

In addition to these projects, NYA students are preparing a statistical study of senior comprehensive examinations; two teach art, and two give [psychology] examinations to students in local schools. Under the supervision of Herman Schnurer, associate professor of French, four Antioch students are working out a “better movie” project for Yellow Springs.

View of the opera house, courtesy of Antiochiana
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Yellow Springs Women with Green Thumbs

Spring is an appropriate time to highlight the entry in Women of Greene County given to the Friendly Gardeners’ Club.

The Friendly Gardeners’ Club
Yellow Springs

The Friendly Gardeners’ Club was organized March 1, 1945, with the following charter members: Mary Brown, Esther Carpenter, Emma Dillon, Ella Fogg, Lucy V. Fogg-President, Mary Fultion-Secretary, Helen Semler, Florence Smith, Mrs. Stevens, and Grace Pusch. Ten members were necessary for state federation membership. The Club was to be primarily a rural neighborhood club of women living west of Yellow Springs who met on the third Wednesday of each month. The motto was “When tillage begins, other arts follow.” As the years passed, membership became more diversified to include women from the Village and surrounding areas.

The purpose of the Club is “to stimulate the love and knowledge of gardening among amateurs, to share through association, and to aid in the protection of our native plants and birds.” The aim is “for every member to participate in programs, workshops, and civic and community projects, as well as flower shows, educational exhibits, and plantings.”

Historically, the Club has lived up to its purpose. Flower shows were held yearly from 1946 through 1988. In 1953 the Club celebrated Ohio’s Sesquicentennial with a spring flower show emphasizing red, white, and blue arrangements. The Club still exhibits lat the Greene County Fair. Beginning in 1946, flower arrangements were placed in the Yellow Springs Library and other public buildings and donated for community events like P.T.A. Meetings and the Antioch Summer Music Festival.

The Club has beautified the Village through landscaping projects. 1n 1949 and 1950 they helped with a project at 4-H camp Clifton and in 1956 with landscaping at the School Camp. The flower bed at Hilda Rahn Park,, named for Hilda Rahn, Clerk for the Village of Yellow Springs for many years and now retired, was established by the Club and is an ongoing project.

Stimulating the love of gardening is another aim of the Club. In the 1950s a Junior Garden Club was sponsored. There was a garden therapy project at the Friends Care Center. Workshops were held for the public and for an Elderhostel at Glen Helen. In the 1960s, articles on gardening were printed in the Yellow Springs News and gardening hints were given on local radio stations. Meetings with special speakers are open to the public. Frances Kimball showed her award-winning flower slides at one meeting.

Other ongoing projects include plant sales in May and for the June and October Sidewalk sales, and a conservation poster contest, begun in 1961 in conjunction with the Greene County Soil and Water District. In 1994 nearly sixty 5th graders in Yellow Springs school entered the contest.

The Club meets monthly in members’ homes or at the Library, Bryan Center, or Glen Helen. Simple refreshments and a social time follow the program which includes a garden book review. Membership is limited to twenty members and available by request. Dues were $1.25 in 1945 and are now $5. Membership dues allow the Cub to make contributions to the county and district associations (Oho Association of Garden Clubs) or buy flowers, cards, and memorial books to honor deceased members. In addition, a book or magazine is donated yearly to the library.

Present long time members include: Vrginia Bush, Rebecca Ramsey Fenton, Lucy V. Fogg, Janet Hackett, Evadene Holyoke, Marlene Johnson, Frances Kimball, Ruby Nicholson, Paulione Sidenstick, Gladys Snider, Ruth Varner, Toshiko Asakawa, Dorothy Holm, and Helen Routzong.

Members of the Club have participated in local, county, and state meetings, provided support for Cedar Bog and Wakeena, a state school training camp, and been judges for flower shows. All have shared their skills and knowledge.

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A Very Different Then…

This photo from the Kahoe glass plate negative collection looks like it might have been taken in the School Forest, but it was actually taken in town. The note attached says, “Carr’s Nursery, W[illiam] W[allace] Carr, High & S. College.” Carr is just barely visible in front of the large trees in the background. Other photos of the Carr Nursery from the Kahoe collection have been featured in previous posts here, and here, and scans of pages from a nursery catalog are indexed on the “Blog Multi-Part Series” tab above.

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J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 30

In which J. Peery Miller comes to the end of his Civil War service…

After the battle at Green Springs our regiment resumed the duty of guard work as before save that Co. F was stationed with Co. E at South Branch Bridge. Here we remained until the expiration of our time of enlistment. At this time our places were taken by other troops and we returned by train to Camp Dennison, O. where we were paid off and mustered out, September 9. Four month’s pay at $16 a month was our cash remuneration for this summer’s work. We responded to our country’s call as a patriotic duty. Money was little thought of as a consideration.

I would note that the location of our camp at South Branch was in the valley where the branches of the North and South Potomac unite to form the main stream.The conditions at this season of the year were conducive to malaria (old fashioned ague). Practically every body was sick with chills and fever. The week before we were ordered home, I, too, succumbed to this malarious infection. A severe chill followed by a burning fever was the order. I remember that I fell in for company roll-call one morning and Capt. Cross noticed my shivering condition. He said, “My God, Peery, have you got it, too?” He ordered me with a bunch of others similarly affected to take the next train to Cumberland for treatment, as he had neither physician nor medicine nearer. Brother Harrison, also sick, went with me, and, for a hospital, we stuck our dog-tents with others on the side of a hill not far from the B . & O. depot at that place. Quinine a-plenty was given to us on application to an army physician to whom we reported as ordered. We had our usual rations of hard-tack and coffee. Nothing more appetizing was suggested. Our appetites were not vigorous.

Typical dog-tents

I think we were here three days and nights. One night it rained a perfect torrent, and as our bed was simply a blanket spread on the ground and our tent was pitched on the side of the hill, we got the full effect of the flowing current. We tried to deflect its course to the sides of the tent by digging a little ditch with our knives, using our hands for shovels, but our labor was to little avail.

The next morning brother Harrison, being the oldest, and, at this time, the least sick, made coffee for two. We had plenty of brown sugar and he used it bountifully. So sweet was my cup that from that cause or other I formed a dislike for sweetened coffee, and from that day to this I drank my coffee without sugar.

Our three days on the hillside at Cumberland must not be considered hospital experience. We were not sick enough to be considered patients. We were sent here to get quinine to recuperate our strength for the ride home. Those members of Cos. E and F who were now at Cumberland were put in an old passenger coach at this point and were attached to a regular train bound for Pittsburgh and the West. Trains ran slowly in war times. If I remember correctly we were on the train two days and nights. We passed through Columbus and Xenia, Ohio, en route for Camp Dennison, but when we got to Xenia, about midnight of the second day, several of the Bethel and neighborhood boys decided to stop off at that place without orders, go home first and report at Camp Dennison later. We did so but had to wait in the depot until eight o’clock the next day to get a train to Springfield.

We took possession of the gentlemen’s waiting room and spread ourselves on the floor for a comfortable sleep. The incoming and out going passengers either walked around us or over us. We slept soundly until daylight without a disturbing thought of being aroused by an officer of the guard to take our place in line preparatory to performing some unwelcomed military duty. Sweet sleep in the land of peace!

The little old Little Miami depot stands today (1927) just as it did then (Sept. 1864) with but little change inside and none outside. I never pass through that waiting room without being sensibly reminded of our home coming from the scenes of war.

At eight o’clock a.m. our neighborhood bunch took the train for Springfield, arriving about nine o’clock. Here we separated, each going to his own home by whatever method was available. Brother Harrison and I were fortunate in finding our cousin and neighbor, Amos James, in town with his spring-wagon. He was only too glad to give us a boost to save us a six-mile walk which we were preparing to make. Amos was very talkative and very ready with questions about our army experience. The time soon passed and we were now back home. My arriving was a complete surprise to our homefolks. I met mother at the kitchen door. In a dirty soldier uniform I looked so different from the boy that left home in the early spring that mother did not know me at first, but a smile and an extended hand on my part told the tale. The news, “Peery is home,” soon spread. Every body at home hastened to give me welcome. I am quite sure that the reception given the famous prodigal son of Biblical fame was no heartier or genuine than that given me. One advantage I possessed over the scriptural adventurer was that I had no confession of wrong doing to make

Sping-wagon

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Then and Now, without Interurban

This photo from the Kahoe glass plate negative collection bore the note of “House probably Xenia Av (interurban lines).” One can see just a portion of the overhead lines and street rails at the edges of the picture. A previous post on the blog reprinted a history of transportation in Yellow Springs.

The probable current view of the house is taken more from the north, but the garden lot to the south on the corner of Xenia Avenue and East North College is still there, although the interurban infrastructure is long gone.

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