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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Lake Margaret: Peggy Campbell Community Icon

Lake Margaret

Margaret “Peggy” Campbell was an inspiration and a wonderful role model for me and, rest assured, for scores of many other youth in Lucasville, Ohio. After a long career at the phone company, Peggy dedicated her life to making Lake Margaret a wonderful recreational institution. The lake featured swimming, fishing, boating, plus playground and banquet facilities in a friendly, family atmosphere. For decades, it was the preferred gathering place for families in the area. Thanks to Peggy, young people like me grew up as her beloved “lake kids” who benefited so much from a home away from home. I have so many fond memories of Lake Margaret and its feisty owner, Peggy Campbell.

In the February 12, 1966 edition of the Portsmouth Times, Peggy addressed a request from the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Correction to include Lake Margaret in the prison plans. Lake Margaret was not a part of the Schisler farm, which surrounded the lake area and was part of the land acquired by the state for the construction of a maximum security prison.

“I will do most anything to help my community,” Mrs. Campbell said, “But I do not believe I should be expected to surrender my livelihood.”

In fact, 1965 had been the best year for the lake. Peggy said, “ We are growing. Our membership is increasing. I enjoy entertaining children at the lake. We invite the children of Hillcrest Home and Boy and Girl Scouts to enjoy our facilities every year.” She continued to explain how she also had many improvements planned to enlarge the lake and to build an addition to the boat dock there. In addition, Campbell vowed she would continue to stock the lake with bass, crappies, bluegills, and perch for the delight of local fishermen.

Charlie Brown Swimming at the Lake

In 1954, Peggy Campbell and her husband, Ralph W. Campbell, purchased 45 acres including the 32 acres of the lake area from the late Frank W. Moulton. Then, they built the property for public recreation. After Ralph Campbell died, Peggy continued her dedicated work on the establishment as a memorial to her late husband.

The Schisler tract was the former big Acres farm. Many years before it was owned by the late James Bannon. John Gronninger later owned the farm and sold it to George Cook.

Frank and Arthur Moulton, Walter F. Gahm, Edward and Charles Appel organized a company and purchased the farm for around $100,000 around 1926. During the depression, the company surrendered the farm and Carl Schisler acquired it for about $45,000.

Schisler later added the Violet Farm which adjoined Big Bend Acres and subsequently sold off several tracts.

Anyone who knew Peggy understood her extreme devotion and unbelievable work commitment to the lake facility which bears her name. She continued to operate the lake for decades, always taking pride in her community involvement. Far more than just owner and manager of the club, Peggy was the chief cook, cleaner, and maintenance person in the enterprise. Through it all, she welcomed children and encouraged them to use and enjoy her beautiful facilities.

And excuse me, but damn the prison for nearly choking off the lake. Even when prison construction muddied the waters of Lake Margaret and caused Peggy's business to decline significantly (to put it mildly), she fought to maintain the lake as a focal point for Lucasville. I vividly remember how Peggy suffered through the damage caused by the state. It was a terrible blow to all that made the lake a precious site. It never fully recovered, not even close.

Though small in stature, Peggy Campbell was a giant force in molding character and industry in her community. I worked at the lake as lifeguard and waiter for many years. I know of no other person who taught me more about work ethic and responsibility than Peggy Campbell. I love her and miss her so much. How I wish children of today could benefit from being lake people like me and my friends. The lake is still there but no longer operates as a public recreational facility. If dreams were reality ...

Working at Lake Margaret

Rex Diamond of Lucasville, Ohio -- Whipped Topping Genius

Rex Diamond at Desk (Framed Whipped Topping Patents)

Who doesn't love whipped cream? The delicious topping for fruits, pies, ice cream, hot chocolate, and whatever else your creamy imagination can imagine is a simple, affordable treat. With a long history of goodness, the first well known reference to it was when the French chef, Vatel created a variation with sugar to serve at a reception to honor King Louis the XIV in 1661. From then on, the topping grew in popularity to its present status of convenient dairy staple.

In another brush with local history, Lucasville area residents can thank a Valley High School graduate when they use this delightful topping or when they enrich their daily cups of coffee with their favorite creamer. Biochemistry, polymers, and non-dairy “whip” toppings all play a part in the story of Rex Diamond, a Lucasville native who helped elevate the worth of the lowly soy bean. Diamond's life was full of sweetness and far too much disappointment and grief. I present a biography to honor the incredible man.

Rex Diamond

Holton Whittier “Rex” Diamond was born in Lucasville, Ohio on June 15, 1915. Rex was the son of Walter V. Diamond and Ethel Pigg. He was a very bright boy, chosen valedictorian of his Valley High School class and, as valedictorian, he presented “The Seniors’ Farewell Message” at the graduation ceremony at Valley High School on May 10, 1932.

After entering Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio, on a scholarship, the school newspaper noted that he added “to a brilliant scholastic record” by “being the first freshman to make a perfect grade in the state-wide English examination. Diamond also holds national, state, and county scholarship awards in Latin, French, chemistry and English.” Another article reported that he was the first entering freshman in the 60 year history of the college to score 100% on the timed entrance exam.

Diamond graduated from Wilmington College in 1936 with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Science in Education degree (major in chemistry). Then, he worked briefly as a surveyor in Scioto County, and after that, for several years as a chemist for Mead Paper Company in Chillicothe.

Rex entered Drew Seminary Graduate School of Theology for the fall 1938-Spring 1939 school year. (This was a term in the Methodist ministry; he had been interested in YMCA and Gospel Team Work in college.) Then, he moved to Detroit, lived at the YMCA in 1940, and worked as a chemist in the lab of a steel mill, and as a “soda jerk” in a soda fountain. He also attended the downtown Methodist church and often wrote poetry.

After obtained a position in the research department of the Ford Motor Company, in the synthetic rubber development department, he supervised a project group on butadiene synthesis (synthetic rubber). More specifically, his work was at Greenfield Village on “dum-dum,” a silencing material for cars. In June 1943 he was transferred to the George Washington Carver Laboratory in Dearborn, Michigan, which was established by Henry Ford.

While in Detroit, Diamond enrolled in night school at Wayne State University in Detroit and took courses in advanced organic and high polymers, dyes, biochemistry, and chemical literature from 1943 to 1945, but he did not obtain a graduate degree.

At George Washington Carver Laboratory, Rex worked under Robert A “Bob” Smith, the chief chemist, on soybean milk, cheese, ice cream and tofu, and he developed a whipped topping based on soymilk.

Throughout his career he worked on the uses of soybean oil in creating non-dairy foods such as whipped topping, coffee cream and ice cream. During his work at the lab, Diamond acquired two patents, one for soluble compound of chlorophyill and synythesis and the other for toppings for salads and desserts. (Later, in 1955, Rex acquired one more patent for soybean applications with whipped desserts.)

* Note – Henry Ford disliked cows – and horses: As early as 1921, in an interview published in the New York Tribune, Ford predicted that horses would be replaced by automobiles and tractors. The horse is a "twelve-hundred-pound 'hay motor' of one horse power," he quipped. The milk and meat from cows will be replaced by man-made products. Ford notes: "It is a simple matter to take the same cereals that the cows eat and make them into a milk which is superior to the natural article and much cleaner. The cow is the crudest machine in the world. Our laboratories have already demonstrated that cow's milk can be done away with and the concentration of the elements of milk can be manufactured into scientific food by machines far cleaner than cows and not subject to tuberculosis." This article was written 10 years before Ford discovered soybeans and soymilk!

In the mid-1930s Henry Ford built a soymilk plant in Greenfield Village (Dearborn, Michigan). It was just a demonstration plant that made several hundred gallons of soymilk a day. The plant was part of the larger research effort; none of the milk was sold commercially. With the arrival of World War II, the process was taken by Bob Smith, one of the men who developed it, and used as the basis for a private plant [Delsoy Products] in Dearborn where he sold a lot of soymilk for use in whipped toppings, baked goods and frostings.

In about July 1942, during World War II, Henry Ford created the George Washington Carver Laboratory in Greenfield Village (Dearborn, Michigan), in honor of George Washington Carver (who shared many of Ford’s beliefs, including those about cows; Carver made milk from peanuts). There Ford assembled a team of scientists to intensify his research on alternatives to dairy products – including soymilk and “soy whip topping.” He served this soymilk to patients in the nearby Ford Hospital, and he offered to give the soymilk recipe to anyone who was interested. Bob Rich was one of the first to accept this offer.

In August 1944, Delsoy, a soymilk-based non-dairy whipped topping was launched by Russell-Taylor Inc. of Dearborn, Michigan. The world’s earliest known whip topping, it had been developed at the Henry Ford’s Carver Laboratory, largely by Bob Smith and Holton W. “Rex” Diamond.

In 1949, Rex Diamond acquired a job as a chemist with the American Maize Products Company in Roby, Indiana. The company wanted him to develop a dried dairy-free whipped topping. He continued his research with aerated dessert products, but American Maize dropped the project.

In early April 1949 Bob Smith of Delsoy Products offered Rex a job any time he wanted it. Smith also expressed interest in acquiring Diamond's pending patent applications as well as the name of his company, which he thought was better than his own “Delsoy Products Inc.” However, the company, Delsoy Products did not last long.

* Note – Rex Diamond was never employed full time for Delsoy Products. In the early days he worked at the company for a day or two now and then in the plant doing soybean extraction–not as a consultant, but as a friend of Bob Smith’s.

According to authors William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, then Rex pulled “a fast one” ….

“He left, set up his own company named Vegetable Products Corp. in Saline, Michigan (located inside Henry Ford's old soybean extraction plant there), and began to make a soy-based whipped topping named Wonder Whip (non-pressurized in a cone-shaped container), which was designed to be whipped with an egg beater. But, he did not know how to run a food plant. One day Bob Smith was visiting one of his chain store accounts when the buyer told Bob that Rex Diamond was telling all the distributors that Delsoy Products had quit making their topping – so that Rex could take over the accounts. Diamond had so many problems with the quality of his product that his company never got off the ground, and in less than a year went out of business.”

In March 1949 Rex wrote several food corporations to see if they might be interested in manufacturing Wonder Whip and paying the royalty. General Food Corp in New York said they were not interested. Sadly, Diamond was ahead of the market for about 8 years later General Mills launched Dream Whip, and about 15 years later Whip'n Chill, both similar products.

In November 1952, Bob Rich of Rich Products hired Rex and there he was successful in developing a product named Coffee Rich. Bob Rich and Rex Diamond set up a separate corporation named Coffee Rich Inc. just to manufacture and sell the Coffee Rich. It did very well financially.

In May 1956, Rich Products added a completely new formulation of Whip Topping to its line. Developed by Holton W. “Rex” Diamond, it was named Rich’s Whip Topping – The Diamond Process.” It contained no protein. Soy oil was replaced by coconut oil, which had a better flavor. During the development stage, Mr. Rich discovered that the soya bean substance could be frozen, thawed and whipped. The new product, was immediately hailed as “the miracle cream from the soya bean.”

Rich's® Whip Topping® was the world's first frozen non-dairy whipped topping. The “miracle cream” revolutionized the food processing industry, serving as the springboard for a series of groundbreaking, non-dairy products. It sparked the advent of Rich Products Corporation, still one of the largest family-owned companies around the globe.

At the time, Diamond was in the process of building a large home in Buffalo New York but then he was unexpectedly fired by Bob Rich. One of the contingencies of the stock agreement between Rich and Diamond was that if either person was terminated or left the company, he had to sell his stock back to the corporation. Diamond felt he had been fired because the company (and Diamond) had made so much money that Rich had to fire Diamond to get control of the stock.

Diamond, who had signed a bad contract, was very upset. The same thing happened to the sales manager for Coffee Rich. Again Rex approached Delsoy Products, asking if he could manufacture topping in their plant, but again they declined. Meanwhile diamond returned to his home town in Detroit and went to an attorney. The attorney settled with Rich Products for a much smaller sum than Diamond hoped to get. Within a year or two of his termination from Rich Products, Diamond committed suicide in Detroit.


Holton W. Diamond Papers 1933-1971 (bulk 1946-1969) Accession 89.432 Finding Aid Published: January 2011.

William Shurtleff, Akiko Aoyagi. Henry Ford and his Researchers - History of their Work with Soybeans … 2011.

William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi.“History of Non-Dairy Whip Topping, Coffee Creamer, Cottage Cheese, and Icing/Frosting (With and Without Soy) 1900-2013.” 2013.

Talk (print) with David and Harvey Whitehouse, formerly of Delsoy Products. February 4, 1992.

Rex Diamond and Coffee Rich

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Doors in Columbus, Ohio on May 9, 1970 -- I Was There!

On Saturday, May 9, 1970, my friend, Steve Wagner, and I attended a show by the Doors at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio. At the time Steve was 17 and I was 19 – two huge fans of the group – who traveled from Lucasville, Ohio to Columbus that day to see the show. We had good tickets on the floor and looked forward to seeing one of our favorite groups. Not unusual? Well, it seems as if almost no one else has details about the memorable show. It is a ghost that haunts our memories, a reality that is forgotten.

The very fact that a show occurred that day has been in question. On the site “The Doors Interactive Chronological History,” featuring a post by Ricki C. (Cacchione) of Columbus the following entry was made:

"...there seems to be some question as to whether there was a Doors show scheduled for Columbus in 1970 that was subsequently cancelled in the wake of the Miami fiasco/arrests. Again, I can pretty categorically state that I would have been aware of - and mightily hyped for - a Doors appearance my senior year of high school through my familial connections with Central Ticket Office. In addition to my dad working at the shows, Ben Cowall - the head of CTO - was my godfather. We were Italian. We were tight."

Part of my memory of the 1970 show echoed the recollection of Ricki C. and his detail about a prior concert at Veterans Memorial on Novermber 2, 1968. Ricki said of that date ...

“At that point the fire curtain - a weighted, heavily-padded piece of fabric designed to prevent a fire spreading from the stage to the auditorium - was dropped from the ceiling into the orchestra pit, cutting all of The Doors from the audience's view. But they still kept playing. Thirty seconds later all the red lights on the PA in the wings of the stage blinked out as power was cut to the speakers. But John Densmore just kept pounding away, completely out of sight behind the regular and fire curtains. About a minute later that tribal drumbeat ceased when, I would imagine, someone either took the sticks away from Densmore or toppled him off the drum riser.

“This entire time the audience was on its feet, shouting and going nuts at the performance. The termination of Densmore's beat brought a chorus of boos & derision from the crowd and when a burly cop groped his way out from under the fire curtain and announced to the assembled multitude, 'The show's over! It's over! You kids go home!'" 


There was a concert on May 9. It did take place -- not in its entirety, but in a very unique fashion. Here is what I mean …

Steve and I arrived at the venue and took our seats. There was a large police presence at the event, and we figured they were there because of the infamous Miami incident on March 2, 1969, during which a very drunk Jim Morrison became the object of six arrest warrants, including one for a felony charge of "Lewd and lascivious behavior in public by exposing his private parts and by simulating masturbation and oral copulation."

The band began to play, and with no apparent bad behavior, they mixed their hits, album cuts, and Morrison theatrics to the delight of the crowd. A half hour or so into the performance, a young man jumped onstage and draped a necklace around Morrison's neck (If my memory serves, it was a Native American, hand-made, hippie-kind-of-ornament). He did this and ran off the stage.

Before the guy could take his seat, the police apprehended him. They pulled his hands behind his back and pushed him toward the entry doors, presumably to kick him out. At that point, Morrison began making comments about the police. I can't really remember anything specific about what he said other than at the end of the rant, Morrison invited to audience to “Come on up!”

Of course, that was all Steve and I – two young fans presented with an opportunity of a lifetime – needed to hear. We leapt out of our seats and pulled ourselves up and onstage just a few feet from the band. Not only did Steve and I get onstage, but it seemed everyone was climbing aboard. I know we helped a few others, pulling them up on the wings of the stage. In rock ecstasy, we were onstage with the Doors. My 19-year-old brain was in-the-moment and delirious with delight.

The police reacted quickly to this mayhem. They had the P.A. announcer tell us to “Sit down” or they would “drop the fire curtain and end the show.” In my recollection, we all did so in a pretty orderly fashion. I know most did anyway, including Steve and me. We didn't want to be arrested for simply attending a concert and having a little fun. After all, we probably paid $5.00 or $6.00 apiece for our tickets. We had come to see the band and didn't want to leave until they finished their set.

I later read Ray Manzarek, the keyboard player, said that during the Miami concert of '69, a similar, near-tragedy had occurred after Morrison had incited the crowd and began their anthem “Light My Fire” … Manzarek recounted, "And they started coming down on a rickety little stage, and the entire stage collapsed." I heard that the Veterans Memorial stage may have been in danger of doing so, too.

Nevertheless, after a very short time, before the band could begin another number, the fire curtain came down. We were really bummed out that the concert had been cut short, but we knew we had just experienced a lifelong memory. In a grand finale, the Doors, behind the curtain and completely out of sight, played “Light My Fire” and the concert was over. We walked to our car and talked about the show on our hour-and-a-half trip back to the little town of Lucasville. We felt we had been a tiny part of rock history – two young dudes just hanging out with the Doors.

I am 67-years-old now, and I have looked for any and everything I could find about the Doors concert of May 9, 1970. It sadly seems my account is the only easily accessible remembrance of the event. Are there more? So many Doors sites are online – and to name just two. Ricki C. has a blog titled “Growing Old With Rock and Roll” at Thus far, I have found no concert photos, footage, or amateur recordings of the concert. No, neither Steve or I took photos or bought a program. Our ticket stubs are gone also.

I would love to read other accounts of the concert and see any other evidence of the show. I look at some similarities between my memories and the memories of Ricki Cacchione, and I wonder if he isn't confusing some facts he remembers as those of November 2, 1968, with those of May 9, 1970. Perhaps he attended both and mixed the events in his mind. There is not doubt in my mind and in the mind of Steve Wagner that we were there on November 2 and we SAW the Doors and even STOOD on the same stage with them.

How wonderful it would be to have the ability to recall totally a memorable event. I have told many people about this concert and I regret my scant recollection of details. Perhaps someone else attended the show and will share their memories here. If you know of accounts of the concert, please e-mail me at I would be thrilled to hear from you. I also wonder if John Densmore and Robby Krieger remember the show. Please share any of their recollections with me -- articles, books, etc. I hope to revive memories of this event that was so special to Steve and to me.

Columbus, 1968, Jim Morrison

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Private Cecil Hannah: First U.S. Casualty in Western Hemisphere, World War II

 Cecil Hannah

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom; Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

– “Lead Kindly Light” by John Henry Newman

On March 9, 1942, Mrs. Pearl Hannah received a telegram informing her of the death of her son Private Cecil Hannah, 23. The message from the War Department stated that Private Hannah died on the Dutch West Indies island of Aruba, off the coast of Venezuela, as a result of a gunshot wound.

No particulars were included to explain the nature of the wound, but relatives assumed Private Hannah was wounded February 16 when an enemy submarine shelled oil installations on the U.S.-garrisoned island.

The telegram said the body would not be brought to the United States during the present conflict, but on termination of hostilities, the War Department, if possible, would bring the body to the home for final interment.

Private Hannah, who died of his wound on March 6, 1942, was reported to be “the first American soldier to give his life for his country in an actual attack on the Western Hemisphere in World War II.”

Some time later Chaplain Ambrose J. Sullivan reported the following in a letter to Mrs. Pearl Hannah:

“The Lucasville soldier frustrated an attempt of two of the enemy to sabotage millions of gallons of gasoline and an enormous refinery. The pair opened fire on the soldier. Private Hannah returned the fire and advanced and the men fled, but in the meantime a bullet hit him in the leg.

“A large artery was severed and the soldier died of loss of blood and shock despite immediate first aid and attention of doctors.”

An entry in a journal by fellow soldier Arnold Douglas Ward added this commentary: “Shot by two unknown assailants while on Post #2 at Lago Oil Co.”

Chaplain Sullivan conducted a full military funeral March 7, which included all men from Private Hannah's forces who were not on duty at the time, representatives of the Dutch Army, the American Legion post and the American colony. Burial was in the American military cemetery at San Nicolas.

Cecil Hannah's death presents local historians with some interesting questions. First and foremost, was Hannah the first war casualty in an attack on the Western Hemisphere as reported by the Portsmouth Times in 1942? I found no further verification of the unfortunate holder of this claim. Yet, I found nothing to dispute this fact. 

And, perhaps even more baffling – What are the exact circumstances of this so-called “sabotage” that resulted in Hannah's death? Much is written about the February 16th attack, but I found nothing much about the raid on March 6th. The lack of detail is disturbing.

Lago Refinery on Aruba


Tiny Aruba has played an important role in World War II. Aruba was home to two of the largest oil refineries in the world during the war against the Axis powers, the Arend Petroleum Maatschappij, situated near the Oranjestad harbor and the Lago Oil and Transport Company at the San Nicolas harbor.The refineries of one field alone at Aruba produced more oil than any facility controlled by the Axis.

The fuel refined at Lago was used by the Allied air force and that made the island a vital point in the Western Hemisphere – vital for the Americans to defend and for the Germans to attack. The main product was 100-octane aviation gasoline and the primary recipient was Great Britain. Having the superior fuel was considered the critical edge that gave the RAF victory in the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940.

Aruba – its oil installations and tankers – became the target of the first attack on the Western hemisphere. Even before the first bloodshed in Europe, the secret service of the Aberwher had sent numerous spies to Aruba to plot sabotage missions against the petroleum refineries.

The first enemy attack against American soil occurred early on the morning of February 16, 1942, when German submarines shelled a Standard Oil refinery on Aruba Island, in the Netherland West Indies off the coast of Venezuela, and sank three tankers with the loss of twenty-three lives. The attack resulted in the disruption of vital Allied fuel production.

* Note – Another report says four Allied ships had been sunk, and at least 47 Allied merchant sailors were killed, and several more received wounds.

In those days there was no black out at all, the target lay there, fully lit. The site Historia di Aruba reports: “Some Arubans, not yet aware of the importance of a black out during a bombardment at dark, switched on the lights at home and even took the car and headed for the coast, their headlights switched on, hoping to catch a glimpse of the submarine.”

* Note – Security had failed. The Neuland Group of submarines already had detailed information about their targets. A Spanish ship’s officer (Naval Reserve Officer) had reported on harbors in Curacao: “open, not mined, no black-out, large stores of petroleum on shore. 20-25 tankers, mainly enemy, always there.”

After the firing of the torpedoes at ships lying off the coast or in the harbor, the U-156 emerged and the crew hurried to prepare the heavy artillery on deck of the submarine for the bombardment of the refinery. In the excitement of the moment, the deck gunner forgot to remove the plug from the end of the cannon barrel and the muzzle exploded while firing the first projectile; the deck gunner was killed instantly and an assisting crew member was seriously injured.

This fatal error spared Lago almost total destruction, because after the loss of this cannon, the U-boat only had a much lighter gun on board. That was used to shoot at the refinery and at the surrounding buildings, but the damage was only minor. Sixteen rounds from the 37mm AA gun were fired, but only two hits were found by the Allies: a dent in an oil storage tank and a hole in a house.

Time Magazine reported on the shelling of Lago and carried this eyewitness account from Associated Press Photographer Herbert White: “A mile offshore a submarine lay on the surface, pouring shells at the island. Already two tankers in the harbor were on fire, flaming oil spread over the water. The harbor scene was like a raging forest fire right in your own front yard… The blaze was shooting up high over the waterfront. I could see the decks of [one] ship as a mass of flames.”

Later, historians made much about the “monumental error of placing the tankers within the narrow confines of the harbor instead of anchored in the roadstead.” It seems fate also played a part in saving the installation.

According to Historia di Aruba, Aruba escaped that night and not only because the bombardment of Lago failed: there also was a ship, loaded with 3000 tons of TNT (dynamite), in the harbor. The 'Henry Gibbons' just had not yet set sail when the torpedo attack started. The crew still wanted to have a cup of coffee before taking to sea … If it had been a direct hit, the devastation on Aruba would have been unimaginable.”

Threats to Lago may have ended, but German activity persisted. A report on February 22, 1942, expressed five submarines were still believed to be in the area and that the Norwegian tanker Konesgaard had been torpedoed the day before off Curacao and that today “a Dutch coast patrol vessel fired unsuccessfully on a submarine which had surfaced just off the entrance to San Nicolaas harbor.”

In messages sent on the 24th Consul Standish reported that the American motor tanker Sun had been torpedoed fifty miles northwest of Aruba at 10:00 a.m. on the 23rd and that the Panamanian tanker Thalia had been sunk in the same area. Although badly holed amidships, the Sun was able to make it to San Nicolas harbor.

In April there was an attempt to shell the Curacao refinery and submarine activity continued in the Caribbean until 1945.

Private Cecil Hannah

Cecil Hannah was a private in the U.S. Army, C Company, 166th Infantry Battalion. He was drafted and enlisted on February 7, 1941 at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio. Hannah was killed in Aruba on March 6, 1942. He was buried in the American Military Cemetery in Savaneta, Aruba. In February 1947 his body was transferred to the Lucasville Cemetery in Lucasville, Ohio. 

Honda Knot Under Golden Gate

* Note – A later article (1948) in the Portsmouth Times stated that “two Scioto County soldiers were among the 1.150 servicemen whose bodies are being returned to the United States from the Caribbean and South America aboard the (United States Army Transport) Honda Knot, the army announced today.” The ship was to dock in San Francisco.

The article continued … “The local men are 2nd Lt. Lewis Warren, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Warren of Sciotoville Route 2 and Pvt. Cecil Hannah, son of Mrs. Pearl Hannah of Lucasville. Lt. Warren, a pilot in the ferry command was killed June 7, 1944 in an airplane crash in Natal, Brazil. He was 22. Pvt. Hannah, first soldier fatality from Lucasville during the war, died of a gun wound on the Dutch West Indies island of Aruba off the coast of Venezuela in March 1942.  He was 23."

The entire repatriation and overseas burial program was conducted from 1945 to 1951, at a cost of $200,000,000 in 1945 dollars (several billion today). It was the most extensive reburial program following a foreign war. The arrival of the Honda Knot officially initiated what one observer called the “most melancholy immigration movement in the history of man.”

Cecil Hannah was born in Alcorn (Rock House), Kentucky on April 4, 1918. Before entering the service, he worked for a dairy in Delaware, Ohio. He was also a resident of Madison County. He had received his army training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The regiment moved to New Orleans, and 1st Battalion was detached to Task Force 1291, serving as a garrison unit in Aruba and Curaçao in the Caribbean.

Private Hannah was home on a short furlough before Christmas in 1941. About six weeks before his death, the family received a card from him saying he had landed safely at his new post. The card, however, did not disclose his location.

Cecil was the son of John and Pearl Tackett Hannah. His father, John Hannah, was a member of a group which was drowned in the Ohio River in 1930 during a severe storm. Cecil was survived by his mother; four brothers – Jack of Baltimore, Sterling of Lucasville, William and Charles at home; a sister – Mrs. Carl Bennett of Columbus; a half brother – Dow Allard MeNeer of Lucasville; and a nephew – Clarence, who made his home with the Hannahs in Lucasville. A sister preceded him in death about five years before his death.


The Mystery

The lack of details about enemy action in Aruba on March 6, 1942 is puzzling to say the least. Cecil Hannah was reported killed while on sentry duty by “unknown assailants.” What exactly does this mean? Were the attackers German spies, Nazi sympathizers, or someone else? Who was involved and why isn't the report clear about what was evidently a major attack, after February 16, in Aruba? I hope someone can attain a full U.S. Military report on the death of Hannah.

As stated previously, Chaplain Ambrose J. Sullivan wrote:

The Lucasville soldier frustrated an attempt of two of the enemy to sabotage millions of gallons of gasoline and an enormous refinery. The pair opened fire on the soldier. Private Hannah returned the fire and advanced and the men fled, but in the meantime a bullet hit him in the leg.”

Here is a journal entry by fellow serviceman Arnold Douglas Ward concerning the event:

Time elapses quickly. One month today since we landed - one dead already Pvt. Cecil Hannah from Lucasville, Ohio, killed in the line of duty – Shot by two unknown assailants while on Post #2 at Lago Oil Co – shot in leg and died at hospital from loss of blood. Funeral held here in library terrace. Impressive, unique native hearse. Looked like station wagon, only not like one upon closer inspection. Doors and body were carved – after ceremony – or service (during which we sang, “Lead Kindly Light” with Lt. Drove field playing organ). 8 black plumes were mounted on top of hearse before departing for cemetery. Three volleys fired at grave.”

Further notation by Ward under the headline “Taps for Private Hannah” ...

Private Cecil Hannah was fatally shot while on guard duty as a sentry at Aruba. He died while on duty at a lonely post. The words are simple to say, but the act carries the thunder of revenge and the utmost in loyalty that a man can give. Private Hannah would not want a eulogy. He would more than likely appreciate having his life back long enough to know that he had not given his life in vain; long enough to see the victorious end of this war; long enough to know that those he loved back home can live in the peace and security they deserve. While Private Hannah cannot have his life back, there are plenty of us here to see that his desires are fulfilled in a silent pledge 'to carry on' as Taps ring out over the Caribbean waters for our first comrade 'over there.'”

I know enemy activity did occur after the major attack on February 16. For example, here is an account posted February 21 ...

“San Nicolas also experienced incendiary flares night before last - possibly an attempt of submarine to illuminate the town for shelling. Entire island is and has been in blackout for past week. We are alerted from 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at which time we man our posts, pill boxes and other vantage points in the camp area. This is Feb. 21st 8:00 PM and alert is over.”

In one listing of “Other Victims” on the site Antilles At War, Cecil Hannah appears. The notation there reads: “This group of victims is comprised of different categories. In it are a number of Antillean victims with incomplete or insufficient data, making it difficult to recognize them as official war victims at this time. Also there are a number of Netherlands and foreign persons who did not die as a direct result of enemy action. They are however recognized as war victims in their countries of origin. Some of them remain buried on the islands, most of them were transferred to cemeteries in their home countries after the war.”

I wonder if this clue to Hannah's story could help reveal more descriptive details. If he was an “other victim,” then the Sullivan and Ward reports beg for clarification. It is my hope that someone can read this entry and further inquire about the fate of Cecil Hannah. I am sure answers do exist in reports of the war. Perhaps family or American Legion officers could obtain more information from government sources. It has come to my attention that relatives do not even know about commendations such as a Purple Heart. It is a sad end for a true American hero.


“2 More Bodies En Route Home.” The Portsmouth Times. March 31, 1948.

“Antilles At War.”

“Chaplain Tells How Lucasville Soldier Died As Hero on Aruba.” Portsmouth Times. March 17. 1942.

C.J. Christ. “Aruba produced plenty of gas during World War II.” Courier. August 7, 2005.

William C. Gaines, “The United States Coast Artillery Command on Aruba and Curacao in World War II.” The Coast Defense Study Group Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 2, May 1997, p. 21. (pages are estimates as article was taken from Internet posting.)

Historia di Aruba Aruba and World War II

Dan Jensen, “A Short History of Lago Oil & Transport Company, LTD, Aruba, N.W. I.” Monograph 2003, p.13 and Table 1.

“Lucasville Lad In Army Killed.” Portsmouth Times. March 09, 1942.

“Peter C. Ward.”,%20FATHER,%20ARMY%20ARUBA/PETER_WARD.htm

Arnold Douglas Ward. Journal on Aruba During WWII. 38th Division.

“When Lago Was Lucky.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

"Our Native Land" -- Scioto Trail Connections

The name which the Shawannees give (the river) Siota has slipt my memory, but it signified 'Hairy River.' The Indians tell us that when they came first to live here, deers were so plenty,that in the vernal season, when they came to drink, the stream would be thick of hairs; hence they gave it the name.”

The Journal of Rev. David Jones, 1772-1773

In a previous entry, I wrote of the Scioto Trail and its importance to Native Americans and to early white settlers. I want to follow up on that report with some more local history that occurred in relation to the early settlements on and nearby the trail. The links I discovered uncovered interesting information about famous Native Americans and about significant archeological finds. I hope local historians will use this blog to further investigation into our beautiful homeland.

Ancient Mound Builders populated our area before their mysterious disappearance. And, the Fort Ancient peoples are now accepted as an independently developed culture that descended from the Hopewell culture (100 BCE–500 CE). Much later, groups like the Shawnee, Miami, Delaware, and Wyandot re-filled some of Ohio (the Shawnee in particular are known to have lived in the Scioto Valley), but by then, their way of life had changed much from pre-contact times, looking much less like Fort Ancient and much more like the Euro-American pioneers who would, in the mid-late 1700s, begin to push them out of Ohio.

The nearest well-documented Fort Ancient village is the Feurt Village site along U.S. Route 23 and just north of Portsmouth. Just north of that, near the south edge of Lucasville, is the Schisler Village site, though this site is less well documented. I will reveal much more about the Feurt and Schisler sites a little later in this entry.

It is possible that there are many 18 undocumented Fort Ancient sites in the floodplains above and below Piketon. However, there is little information available for the area concerning the period from 1650 to the 1790s, when Euro-Americans began flooding into the Scioto Valley. This period in Ohio is referred to as the Protohistoric period. It indicates the brief time when European manufactured goods such as beads, axes, knives, and kettles are traded into an area but before there are any historic records.

Several individuals are known to have traveled through the area and written journals during their travels, including Christopher Gist in 1750, William Trent in 1752, and the Reverend David Jones in 1772-1773. Since both Gist and Trent were visiting the Shawnee towns at the mouth of the Scioto and traveled back and forth to Pickawillany, a Miami town with an English trading fort near modern day Piqua, Ohio, it is likely that many other Euro-Americans also were traveling around southern Ohio in the early-mid 1700s.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy (2015) ...

Several historic maps (e.g., the Mitchell 1755 map, the Pownall 1776 map, and the Hutchins 1777 Map (all shown in Smith 1977) show the famous Scioto Trail running north-south along the Scioto River, but only two Native American villages are shown in the lower Scioto Valley. A Delaware village of as many as twenty families (Smith 1977), that of Wanduchales, is present on the Mitchell 1755 map and reappears on the Pownall 1776 and Hutchins 1777 maps.

One wonders, however, if the village was still there in 1777 or if Hutchins had just copied over its location from the earlier maps. Smith (1977), likely informed by Christopher Gist’s journal, suggests that Wanduchales’ (or Windaughalah) town, also known as the Lower Delaware Town, was founded as early as 1738 and was located on the east side of the Scioto River in Clay Township, Scioto County.

The only other Native American village or town to appear on any maps of the lower Scioto valley (i.e., below Chillicothe) is Hurricane Tom’s town, which is shown on the west side of the Scioto River, opposite its confluence with Salt Creek and near what today is the small town of Higby. Many Shawnee villages are known from the Portsmouth area and around Chillicothe, but none have been recorded near Piketon.”

* Note – Piketon was originally called “Jefferson,” and it was laid off on what was called “Miller's Bank” in a tract ceded to the United States (Virginia Military District). About 1795, early settlers from Kentucky, known as Mr. Miller and Mr. Owens, quarreled about the spot. In the fray Owns shot Miller, whose bones may be found interred near the lower end of the high bank, which was then in Washington County, the Scioto being then the line between Washington and Adams counties. Owens was taken to Marietta, where he was tried and acquitted.

Artist Daniel Huntington -- Washington and Gist Crossing Allegheny River
Christopher Gist

Christopher Gist, (1706-1759) was perhaps the best known early explorer of the Ohio Valley and its tributaries. Gist provided England and its colonists with the first detailed description of southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky. While Daniel Boone is generally given credit for opening Kentucky to white settlement, Gist preceded the frontiersman by more than fifteen years.

Through his connection to the Ohio Company, Gist developed a close association with George Washington. Traveling with Washington to the Ohio Country in 1754, Gist served as scout, messenger, and Indian agent. It was Gist’s reconnaissance that alerted Washington to the French presence at Great Meadows and allowed for the subsequent massacre of Jumonville’s forces. Gist was also at the battle at Fort Necessity the following month. During this time with Washington, Gist solidified his place in history, twice saving the young colonel's life.

Earlier, in the autumn of 1750, the Virginia Land Company employed Christopher Gist, pioneer and woodsman, to explore its alleged possessions on the Ohio and the tributaries of that river. On January 16, 1751, Gist and company crossed the Licking, on on the 19th, they arrived at a small Delaware village bearing the name of Hockhoeking. From there, he passed on to Maguck, another Delaware village, situated near the Scioto. And on January 24, they went south fifteen miles to a town called Hurricane Tom's Town near the present Pike County border, approximately four miles from Salt Lick Creek.

Not only was Gist a trained surveyor, but also he kept three detailed journals that attest “to his thoroughness and intelligence.” His writing presents impressive descriptive abilities. Here is his account of Monday, January 28, 1751 in which Gist describes the Delaware Chief Windaughala and his people:

We went into Council with the Indians of this Town, and after the Interpreter had informed them of his instructions from the Governor of Pennsylvania, and given them some Cautions in Regard to the French they returned for answer as follows. The Speaker with four strings of Wampum in his Hand stood up and addressing himself as to the Governor of Pennsylvania, said 'Brothers, We the Delawares return You our Heart thanks for the News you have sent Us, and We assure You, We will not hear the Voice of any other Nation for We are to be directed by You our Brothers the English, & by none Others: We shall be glad what Our Brothers have to say to us at the Loggs Town in the Spring, and to assure You of our Hearty Good will & Love to Our Brothers We present you with these four Wampum.' 

This is the last Town of the Delawares to the Westward – The Delaware Indians by the best Accounts I could gather Consist of about 500 fighting Men all firmly attached to the English Interest, they are not properly a part of the Six Nations, but are scattered about among most of the Indians of the Ohio, and some of them amongst the six Nations, from whom they have Leave to Hunt upon their Land.”

Chief Windaughalah

On the east branch of the Scioto, in the present Clay Township, Scioto County, there existed a small village of about twenty Delaware families (and also “a Negro man that belonged to the chief”). There dwelt Windaughalah, a great war chief during the French wars. His name implies “ambassador.” He was a prominent counselor in peace times named in many important treaties.

Christopher Gist, himself, wrote in his journal under the date of January 27, 1751, that the town last named was a small village of the Delawares, and that he lodged there "at the house of an Indian whose name was Windaughalah, a great man and chief of this town, and much in the English interest." Later, this town was abandoned. Windaughalah lived at Tuscarawas in 1762, where he had the figure of a water lizard tattooed on his face above the chin; he was then named Swe-gach-shasin.

This chief appeared at a conference held in Pittsburgh on July 5, 1759 between George Croghan, Deputy Indian Agent with chief responsibility for the Ohio region tribes, and the Indian chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations, Shawanese, Delawares, and Wyandots. Windaughalah was also at a conference between Governor Hamilton and many other Indian nations. And in January 1785 at the Treaty of Fort McIntosh, while representing the Delawares and Wyandots, the chief executed a deed to the State of Pennsylvania for the remainder of their lands within that state. As the oldest, or the “Council Don,” he signed the agreement first.

Buckongahelas, was the son of Windaughalah. Buckongahelas is the subject of the famous Journeycake account, and his lineage reveals the story of the first American Indian to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the United States. Aren't the connections to local history simply amazing?

Artist Depiction of Buckongahelas


Buckongahelas first received the surname “Journeycake” after Indians of another tribe kidnapped the little boy at age six. After escaping from his kidnappers several months following his abduction, the child, known as “The Buck,” survived by eating a large corn cake during his return journey to his father, Chief Windaughala; thus, “Buck” earned the name “Journeycake” from his father and the other tribal elders.

Buckongahelas grew up to become a mighty war chief of the Delaware Nation, who would in his life meet with presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Three of his sons were murdered in separate incidents. One son, the teenager Mahonegon, was shot in the back in a forest that then was part of Virginia, later West Virginia in June 1773. His murderer was Captain William White, a white man who had killed several other Indian individuals and families. (Local legend states that the current Upshur County Courthouse was built over the grave of Mahonegon.) 


* Background Note – John and Samuel Pringle, local settlers of the area, had enlisted in the Army where they served at the British Garrison at Fort Pitt during the French and Indian War. The Pringle brothers left the fort without permission in 1761 and wandered the Buckhannon Valley wilderness as trappers and traders for several years before taking up residence in the hollow cavity of a large sycamore tree from about 1764 to 1767. The tree, located near the confluence of Turkey Run and the Buckhannon River in present Upshur County, supposedly had a cavity so large that an eight-foot fence rail could be turned inside it.

Upon John Pringle’s 1768 return from the trading post on the South Branch, where he had gone to buy ammunition, the brothers decided they were no longer considered renegades and left their tree home. By 1769, they had led a small group of settlers back to the Buckhannon Valley to begin a permanent settlement there.

Chief Buckongahelas (for whom the Buckhannon Valley is named) had welcomed the Pringle brothers and their friends there, but following his son’s murder, he “turned his face and heart away from white skins – and joined the British in the Revolutionary War.”

After the Revolutionary War, the United States claimed the Ohio Country by right of conquest through its defeat of Great Britain. In the late 1780s, Buckongahelas joined a Shawnee-led confederacy to try to repel the American settlers who had begun migrating west of the Appalachian Mountains, using the Ohio River to penetrate the territory.

The confederacy won several battles against the Americans in the Northwest Indian Wars. Buckongahelas led his warriors in helping to win the most devastating military victory ever achieved by Native Americans in the United States, in 1791 against General Arthur St. Clair, who lost 600 troops. The Delaware described Buckongahelas as their own George Washington.

The confederacy was finally defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The British failed to support the Indian confederacy after this battle, and Buckongahelas signed the Treaty of Greenville on August 3, 1795. By this treaty, his band and other Lenape ceded much land in Pennsylvania and Ohio to the United States.

The Delaware were coerced by the U.S. government to move from their lands more often than any other American Indian tribe. The U.S. government forced the Delaware to leave their “forever home” on their reservation between Leavenworth and Lawrence in Kansas, where they had lived less than 38 years until railroad officials coveted their land and railroaded them into Indian Territory. At the end of the line for the tribe, the Delaware Nation didn’t even have its own reservation, as promised by the U.S. government, but were ordered to move onto Cherokee lands.

The book, Journeycake Saga, follows three of Buckongahelas's other sons, Kistawa, Whapakong, and Solomon, as they struggled to adjust to the wave of settlers who washed unto the shores of the country into their lands. Kistawa and his brother Whapakong both were murdered separately within one year. Watomika, son of Kistawa and the French woman Marie, witnessed the deaths of both his father and his uncle. Watomika holds a special place in American history.



At the age of eleven, the grief-stricken Watomika, or “the Swift-Footed One,” was taken to Marietta College in Ohio in 1834 where he received his first literate education. It was there he was converted to Christianity and where he prepared for ministry in the Presbyterian church. It was some twelve years later, however, while on a visit to St. Louis that he was confirmed into the Catholic church and later entered the Jesuit Order.

In his later years Watomika become the first Native American ordained a Catholic priest in the United States. He took on the name Father James Bouchard and became known as the “Eloquent Indian.”

Pat McNamara of Patheous described Father Bouchard as “an orator of premier rank who held forth in the baroque style of his era as preacher, lecturer, and conversationalist, he had no equal in California. For three decades, audiences listened in open-mouthed amazement to the eloquent Indian, charmed by the sound of his silvery voice, by the power of his nervous eloquence.”

Msgr. Patrick Riordan, Archbishop of San Francisco would reserve the following words of praise at the time of the priest's death in San Francisco on December 27, 1889:

"To no man in all the West is the Church of God more beholden than to Father James Bouchard of the Society of Jesus. He kept the faith in the mining districts; he sustained the dignity of God's Holy Church in the midst of ignorance and misunderstanding and everywhere championed her rights. My debt to him, and I speak for my brother bishops, is incalculable.”

*Note – Bouchard's Uncle Solomon, the fourth son of Buckongahelas, died in bed of old age after an exciting life as a guide for the famed explorer of the West, John C. Fremont, whose life Solomon saved when he led him out of a wild prairie fire. 

Father James Bouchard

Schisler Village Site

On Thanksgiving Day in 1942, Philip Keintz and H. R. McPherson were digging in the Schisler Village Site of the Fort Ancient Culture, on the east side of the Scioto River, about one mile south of Lucasville. Keintz reported they had spent a number of days at this site “with only moderate results.” But, on that day they came upon a burial. The account of the find ...

“Soon were found seven nicely-chipped triangular arrow points of dark-gray flint, from one and one-fourth to one and one-half inches in length; one flint blade of similar material two and one-fourth inches long; two flint drills from one and three-fourth to two and one-fourth inches long; five nice flaking tools of antler from two and one-half to four and one-fourth inches in length ; one very fine cutting instrument fashioned from a beaver tooth and about three inches long; seven broken-off antler tips intended as a 'stock supply' for arrow points or flaking tools when needed; and two paint stones of limestone burned to a reddish texture – in all twenty-six items, pipe included.”

It was the pipe found that day that drew the greatest interest. Here is the description:

“It is cut from reddish-brown, compact -grained sandstone, and is admirably and boldly executed. The pipe is two and five-eighth inches in height, two and one-fourth inches in diameter find may be considered 'roundish' in cross-section. However, it is slightly oval with the greater diameter from the front to back. The bowl is one and one-eighth inches in diameter and practically two inches in depth. Workmanship i n connection with the inner carving of the bowl is equally as good as that of the exterior. The interior of the bowl is slightly blackened, apparently from smoking. The stem hole tapers from one-half to three-sixteenths of an inch . The pipe is outstanding not only from its numerous fine characteristics but also from the story it mutely depicts regarding the style or method of cutting end wearing the hair. 

“It is sculptured t o denote the hair as cut and hanging in "bobbed fashion" on each side and entirely around the back of the head. The outer layer of the hair at the back of the neck was bobbed, while the under layer in the same area is bobbed about twice as long as that above and at the sides of the head. The hair on the top of the head was permitted to grow long and evidently was divided into two queues …

“Another very interesting feature is the co-called 'weeping eye' design beneath each eye. This unique design has been noted previously in Ohio, where it was carved on objects of stone, bone and shell found at the Madisonville Village Site of the Fort Ancient Culture. The same design has been noted on shell gorgets from the Temple Hound in Oklahoma, from mounds in Tennessee, " ' and from other southern states. An interesting viewpoint of the weeping eye design may be obtained by looking at the pipe upside down. In some instances the design appears in a somewhat different form - sometimes having three points downward. An interesting sidelight in connection with the type and variety of artifacts found with this burial, is the similarity to two others which may bo mentioned at this time.burial about three miles northwest of Circleville, discovered by Mr, H. R. McPherson in December, 1946.” 



Carmean, Kelli (Winter 2009), Points in time: Assessing a Fort Ancient triangular projectile point typology, Southeastern Archaeology, p. 2

Christopher Gist's Journals: With Historical, Geographical and Ethnological ...William McCullough Darlington.

First Indian ordained a priest in the United States Book highlights Kansan Father Bouchard and his Delaware family. The Southwest Kansas Register. September 14, 2014 Page 11

Charles A. Hanna. The Wilderness Trail, Volume II. 1911.

Henry Howe. Historical Collections of Ohio: In Three Volumes ; an Encyclopedia of the State. Volumes 2-3. 1907.

Pat McNamara. “First Native American Jesuit.” Patheous. September 06, 2009.

Albert M. Pecora, Ph.D. and Jarrod Burks, Ph.D. OVAI Contract Report #2012-4 Phase II Archeological Investigations of 33PK347...(PORTS). Pike County. April 28, 2014.

Ohio Archaeologist, Vol. 1, Number 2. New Series - July 1951 Ohio Indian Relic Collectors Society Columbus, Ohio

Charlene Scott-Myers. The Journeycake Saga. 2014.

VOL. 1 NUMBE R 3 New Series. October 1951 Ohio Indian Relic Collectors Society Columbus, Ohio.

Richard White. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bricks, North Carolina -- Whipping Posts to Blackboards

Franklinton Center at Bricks 

During the boyhood of one still living, students at Bricks were told how this farm 
was once a place where 'unruly' slaves were sent to be subdued and 'broken in.' 
A spot was pointed out to us where the 'whipping post' stood – just 
in front of what is now the Guest House. It was impressed upon us 
that this was still a place where people were sent to be 'broken,' 
not as slave for a slave state, but as free men and women for a
 place of service in a free and democratic society.”
    Ross W. Sanderson, President
Board of Trustees,
Franklinton Center, Inc. at Bricks

A long time ago – if my memory serves me right it was the summer of 1971 – while I was working as director of West End Ministries Tutoring Program and serving as youth director for Bigelow Methodist Church, I accompanied a group comprised of Bigelow and United Church of Christ youth on a mission trip to a place called “Brick, North Carolina.” We were serving to help make improvements to what was once known as Franklinton Christian College. We worked there helping restore the campus of an old black institution located in Edgecombe County between Enfield and Whitakers.

I will never forget my stay at Brick. And, I am sure neither will any member of our youth group. We were all white and our community there that summer was all black. It was a joy of fellowship, work, and making new acquaintances. To say it was a successful cultural experience would be an understatement.

We even spent an afternoon in the hot Carolina sun chopping cotton – although I think it was more for our edification than for the sake of the crop. Nevertheless, all agreed it was brutal work. I did miss the opportunity to taste a pigeon, of which the local caretaker bragged was “fine fair.” And, for some reason I remember the fear that gripped the little community when one of our crews turned up a harmless snake while trimming brush. The locals ran for cover until we were convinced to dispatch the creature.

We also experienced firsthand the remnants of segregation in the South. I remember the local doctor's office still had a separate waiting room for black patients. Conversation included the continued fear of the KKK in the area. And, on one shopping trip to nearby Rocky Mount, I remember walking beside a black girl from campus and receiving an overwhelmingly large number of pointed stares from the white population. Being Yankees in a foreign land, we found new perspectives around every corner. But, rest assured, our Bricks hosts were most cordial and thankful for our visit. We loved each other in earnest. Many tears were shed when we headed back to Ohio.

Students at Bricks

Let me give you some history of the institution that hosted our work camp …

This was written of the area …

The fertile farmland of Franklinton Center at Bricks contains both tragedy and hope. The acres where tobacco and cotton once were harvested were part of a plantation known as the place to break unruly slaves. Through the ashes of that pre-Civil War horror, hope in the form of educational opportunity and leadership development was cultivated.”

Franklinton Center was once a plantation particularly known for breaking unruly slaves. The property was purchased after the Civil War by General L. G. Estes. Estes, while fighting for the Union Army, had been particularly impressed with the area. It is written that Estes was “better at being an Army General than a farmer” because he was unable to make the farm productive and lost it to Mrs. Julia Elma Brick of New York, who had lent him the money for the purchase. Thus, the “Bricks connection was established.

Mrs. Brick then approached Howard University to take the land to build a school to educate poor black children she believed would otherwise not have the opportunity for learning life skills. Howard showed little interest in establishing such a school. Instead, it ended up being the American Missionary Association (AMA), a philanthropic and former abolitionist organization begun by Congregationalists and known for setting up battlefield schools during the Civil War for the black soldiers.

The AMA's purpose was to provide for the education and the "Americanization" of all minorities of whatever race or nationality. Through Julia's gift of land and endowment, the organization took on the task of building a boarding school on the property. Financed primarily by Mrs. Brick, the Bricks School (the Joseph Keasbey Brick Agricultural, Industrial and Normal School, eventually known as Bricks Junior College) opened in 1895 with one student.

The school soon became a success – by the end of the first year, the institution enrolled 54 students of whom 13 were boarders. Both boys and girls were admitted up to the fourth grade, although most of them were first and second graders. The 50-acre campus was situated on a tract of 1,129 acres. Eventually, it comprised three large dormitories in addition to a chapel, recitation hall, administration building, and shop where boys were taught blacksmithing, woodwork, mechanical drawing, the use of small machinery, and cabinetmaking.

Over the years enrollment at Brick increased, reaching as high as 460 students, 260 of whom were boarders. The school produced a variety of farm products and developed an extensive mail-order business in honey. Many black teachers—especially in the field of home economics—also served in nearby counties; others went on to graduate work in other institutions and became teachers, dentists, and physician.

According to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Brick School was so successful it was considered to have “played a key role in the history of education in the United States.” In order to meet the needs of the growing educated Black community, the Brick School became a junior college in 1925. Changes in the Southern political climate, educational focus and the Depression led to the school closing in 1933. For many years, parcels of the land were then leased to sharecroppers.

Thomas Inborden
Thomas Sewell Inborden – Bricks Educator

Thomas Sewell Inborden, renowned black educator at Brick, was born near Upperville, about sixteen miles from Winchester, Va., the son of freeborn parents. His maternal grandmother was descended from a distinguished white family from the "upper neck" of Virginia.

In 1882, after attending a local public school, Inborden left home, on foot, to go to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a bellboy and waiter in the Forest City Hotel for sixteen months. He saved sufficient funds to enter preparatory school at Oberlin College, where he remained for four years.

In 1887 he went to Fisk University and four years later was graduated with the B.A. degree. He then joined the American Missionary Association. Affiliated with the association for over half a century, he was first assigned as pastor of a church in Beaufort, North Carolina, and remained there for three months. In the fall of 1891 he went to Helena, Ark., to organize a high school, and two years later he was sent to Albany, Ga., to establish the Albany Normal School.

Transferred to Bricks, Inborden was the organizer and first principal of the Joseph Keasbey Brick Agricultural, Industrial and Normal School, where he began work on August 1, 1895.

During this period, attendance at the annual farm meetings for African-Americans grew from 5 to approximately 2,000. Inborden inspired many blacks to seek the ownership of land, and he was instrumental in the founding of the Tri-County Federal Farm Loan Association, which was run by blacks.

Inborden also organized the first YMCA Conference for blacks in the South. He served as president of the North Carolina Colored Teachers Association for two years, of the North Carolina Fair Association for two years, and of the North Carolina Negro Farmers Congress for eight years. In addition, he was chairman of the Jury of Awards for the Negro Building at the Jamestown Exposition in 1907, a member of the Negro Sociological Congress, and president of the Eagle Life Insurance Company of Raleigh. He held several honorary appointments by North Carolina governors.

Thomas married Sarah Jane Evans, the daughter of freeborn blacks who had migrated to Ohio from North Carolina about 1854. She was a graduate of Oberlin College and a teacher for thirty-six years. Before her death on May 12, 1928, the Inbordens had seven children, three of whom grew to adulthood. Thomas Inborden died March 10, 1951, in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. 

Franklinton Students

The Bricks and Franklinton Union

Then, in a union of two separate entities – Brick School and Franklinton Christian College – Franklinton Center at Bricks was transformed into one of the first accredited schools for African American in the South. The schools merged in 1954. Franklinton Christian College was started by the James O'Kelly Christian Church in 1871 to train black leaders for local churches. Many of the AMA schools still exist, including United Church of Christ-related historically black colleges. 

Present Day

Today, the property is known as the Franklinton Center at Bricks is a conference, retreat, and educational facility focusing on justice advocacy, young people, and leadership development. As a ministry of the United Church of Christ, it is staffed and managed by Justice and Witness Ministries, specializing in issues of racial and social justice.

Site of the Whipping Post

Two of the original buildings are still on the acreage and a Magnolia tree stands as a grim reminder where the whipping post is believed to have once been. Now, the campus also has modern, dormitory style rooms, large conference rooms, a swimming pool, and a cafeteria style dining hall.

The center offers opportunities for conferences and workshops on church and community leadership education, rural, racial and social justice, spiritual growth and development, as well and community and family activities. The Center hosts and trains visiting groups and also serves the local community. The center weaves rural justice, hunger issues, environmental racism, and workers’ rights into its programmatic focus.

Ms. Vivian Lucas, director of the Franklinton Center at Bricks shared the importance of the center being an actively involved partner with the surrounding communities. Although times have changed since the days of the Brick School, the area still has one of the highest poverty and illiteracy rates in the country.

As part of the UCC ministry the center offers youth and adult literacy classes; nutritional, sustainable agricultural; environmental awareness; diversity appreciation programs and more, now or in the near future. “God is still speaking…”

The Bricks Museum at Memorial Hall offers a collection of historical documents that include photographs, paintings, artifacts, journals, and materials from the many lives of the site, including an early 20th-century post office and various schools.

I often think about Brick, the work, the people there. I am so thankful for the experience. The taste of the South at the time helped solidify my beliefs and understandings. You see, my brother lived in Gulfport, Mississippi in the 1960s, and on trips to his home I also experienced the full-blown segregation of the time. I saw the segregated restrooms and other public facilities. I visited the hateful separation and felt powerless to interfere. I was young, perhaps too young to fully understand. But, while staying in Brick at the age of 20, I absorbed an experience that rang clear as a church-house bell – I realized we are all God's precious creatures, no matter what color or persuasion. Black and white, we can live together in love and harmony just like we did in Brick. I've never forgotten that.


“Franklinton Center at Bricks.” A Ministry of the United Church of Christ.

Anthoy Moujaes. “UCC volunteers unearth history at Franklinton Center at Bricks.” January 28, 2013.

Stella Perez. “Planting Seeds…from heritage to future visions for the Franklinton Center at Bricks.” August 25, 2012.

William S. Powell, Ed. “Inborden, Thomas Sewell.” Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes. 1979-1996.