A Big Change in 1941

This picture from the 1930s was taken in downtown Yellow Springs. How many can guess what opened on this lot in 1941? (Hint: the business was originally across the street.)


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Birth of a Yellow Springs Neighborhood

From a collection of miscellaneous documents given to the Yellow Springs Historical Society by Phyllis Jackson.


[1996 Presentation at the Dedication of the dedication of OMAR PARK estates by Norris Bayless]


To the Mistress of Ceremonies, Betty Felder, the Honorable Mayor of Yellow Springs, David Foubert, the family of Omar Robinson, the residents of Omar Park Estates, and our friends and neighbors, I feel honored that the Dedication Committee asked me to give a brief history of Omar Park Estates.

Omar gave us Omar Park Estates, a collection of 55 homes, owned predominantly by middle class African Americans and valued in excess of six million dollars of real estate. Omar Park Estates represents a significant to the Village and the larger community in terms of economy, talent and service benefits. People from across the United States have at some point called Omar Park Estates home. Many of the first residents were connected to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, either as military or civilians.

Now to the history of Omar Park Estates.

For a number of years in the 40’s and early 50’s, Omar worked at Wright Patterson and commuted to work from his home in Richmond, Indiana. During that period he foresaw the need of moving his family closer to where he worked.

Omar found this 21.2 acres of land for sale. It contained a small farmhouse and some out buildings. This looked promising to him for a residence so he went into action. At that time, after contact with local area banks, he found it necessary to secure financing in Richmond. The 21+ acres of land was purchased from Leo J. Shorter and conveyed to the Robinsons on July 30, 1953. Omar then sold his new house in Richmond and used the proceeds to pay off the loan for the acreage here. For a period of time, Omar and his family lived in the old farm house, located right across from where Barbara Street is now, until his new home was completed.

Having settled in his new home, and with developable land on hand, Omar now with a vision, saw the need for housing for other middle class African American families. He immediately embarked upon a plan to develop a new plat. He worked with a surveyor and a land designer to subdivide the acreage into a layout plan containing Barbara Street, Omar Circle and several individual lots. Omar Park Estate boundaries were (on the West) East Enon Road from West South College Street to the Vernay plant entry; (on the South) West South College Street, from East Enon Road to 583 West South College Street; and within it included all of the lots on Omar Circle.

Armed with the complete Omar Park Estates plat plan, Omar was able to apply for and receive a loan from Miami Deposit Bank to complete the actual development. The plat was developed in three sections:

Section 1 consisting of 3.69 acres along East Enon Road and West South College, was started September 26, 1955 and currently consists of twelve homes on expanded lots.The first houses built were Omar’s house on West South College and Bruce Highwarden’s house on East Enon Road.

Section 2, consisting of the west half of Omar Circle, was started June 7, 1957.

Section 3, consisting of the east half of Omar Circle, was started July 22, 1961.

Early on, builders such as George Wells and Art Homes, each built several houses in Omar Circle, as well as in Section 1.

Omar Park Estates has grown steadily. Omar Circle currently has 43 homes, many on split lots. Again, the total is now 55 homes in Omar Park Estates.

After 41 years, ladies and gentlemen, we now publicly acknowledge Omar Park Estates, Omar’s dream.

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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — 1960s part 3

During the 1960s the “W” series were printed in sepia on vellum stock via letterpress. (Later letterpress would be abandoned, as would vellum stock, with “W” designs printed on regular pressure-sensitive stock, the vellum look approximated in 4-color offset printing.)

Ernest Morgan left notes on individual designs:

W-15 Monogram design by Frank Bittner
W-16  An old Quaker pledge, rendered into bookplate form by Tom Eaglin
W-17 By Tom Eaglin. About 1962. Symbolizes noble aspirations, freedom and solitude
W-18 Done in Japanese style by [?] (the chap who resigned last month from the Antioch Art Department)
W-19 Done in plaster bas-relief, then photographed and retouched, by Read Viemeister. The horse is in Etruscan style.
W-20 Adapted by Owen Wise from an etching by William Blake entitled, I think, “Creation.”
W-21 By Owen Wise

Antioch bookplate W-15


Antioch bookplate W-16


Antioch bookplate W-17


Antioch bookplate W-18


Antioch bookplate W-19


Antioch bookplate W-20


Antioch Bookplate W-21


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Getting from Here to There (or There to Here)

Work being done on the streets brings to mind another article from the 1856 Centennial issue of the Yellow Springs News, this time giving an overview of the history of public transportation in Yellow Springs.


Growth and change in the methods and facilities for transportation and communication have been vital factors in the growth and change of Yellow Springs—not just for the past century—but during the past century and a half. It’s been a long-time development between footpath to paved highway.

The first road—a Shawnee Indian trail—brought Indians to the “medicinal” Yellow Spring before white man set foot in this area. Later, a stagecoach turnpike from Cincinnati brought vacationers to the then-fabulous health resort here.

The railroad—reputed to be the first railroad west of the Alleghenies—brought more people to the watering place at the spring.

In later years, the electric traction line brought crowds and groups of Springfield and Xenia citizens to the summer Chautauqua or various activities at the Neff Park, in the Glen.

Later yet, as the development of the gas engine and the automobile made the need for good roads evident, an end was put to the muddy—or dusty—dirt roads of horse-and-buggy days.

The roads, from the turnpike, built long before the village was incorporated, to the high-powered traction line that died 20 years ago, helped to build the village. The men who built Yellow Springs knew their importance and helped to bring them here.

Turnpike Boomed Business

Elisha Mills, the father of Judge William Mills, was one of the men appointed to “open books and take subscriptions” for the Springfield, Lebanon and Turnpike Co., when that outfit was incorporated in 1828. He was the owner of the Yellow Spring at the time, and had built a small hotel there. The stage road made his hotel more accessible, boomed his business and brought more people into the village.

In 1846, when the Little Miami was built, but it was Elisha’s son William Mills who helped to bring it here. Mills foresaw a city of 10,000—the railroad, in his dream, was to help build it.

Clifton was then the up-and-coming Greene County settlement, with several mills operating and prospects for rapid growth. Neither town lived up to the expectations of its promoters, but with the help of the railroad, among other things, Yellow Springs has come a bit closer.

The railway was part of a line that went from Cincinnati to Sandusky. It was never owned entirely by one company, but did go straight through.

The often-repeated story is that the road-builders ran out of cash near here and stopped operations. Mills bounded off to Boston, raised $50,000 to help support the railroad construction and induced the company to put the railroad through here.

Mud Was Problem

Short-haul travel was still largely by horse-and-buggy or horse, occasionally by bicycle (later) but quite often on foot. And it still involved sometimes-gravelled streets and a great deal of mud. It led to so much mud that the Yellow Springs REVIEW back in 1881 reported “the improvement made at the [railroad] depot by way of having several car loads of cinders put around. . .has been much needed. The people can now walk without getting in mud over their shoe-tops.”

The editor even rhymed up a rhyme by way of comment:

Oh, the mud, the infernal mud
it is the cause of a good deal of woe
but cheer up, it will soon be hid
by a heavy fall of beautiful snow.

A year later, along with a campaign for sidewalks, the editor spoke of socials and gatherings spoiled by mud and ladies “afraid to leave their homes” for fear of the noxious stuff. A few sidewalks were built soon after, but even then there were problems.

For years the lack of a standard grade for streets and sidewalks had caused pools and puddles, unsanitary drainage for wells and cisterns, collections of mud and comments from the editors.

In 1896 the REVIEW editor commented on the practice of adding gravel to the already-raised streed and sidewalks. He felt that this tended “to raise the bumps and deepen the hollows. The streets are too high. Establish a uniform grade. Cut them down so that when a horse is hitched to the rack the wagon will not be out of sight.”

Graded for Trolley

By 1901 the village council decided to improve Xenia Avenue at the same time the traction line was put in, changing the grade of the street and putting in curbstones. The improvement was paid for by a general tax levy on the village.

The electric trolley didn’t swing into operation until 1902. But much earlier there were rumors, hopes and promises of an interurban line. In July, 1893, the NEWS reported that work had been started on a new electric road to be “a great convenience to the public. Yellow Springs will rapidly increase her population, furnishing the great resort with hundreds of pleasure-seekers.”

In June of 1894, surveyors had put in stakes for the electric road on Xenia Avenue at the corporation line, at the south end of town. The road planned at this time was to detour 2½ miles to service Clifton.

Again the plans fizzled. In 1896, work was ready to begin “after the company floats bonds.” It didn’t.

Trolley’s Troubles

On Jan. 16, 1896, the Hustead News reported that “There is a possibility that the Panhandle Railroad (the Little Miami) between Xenia and Springfield being equipped for running trains by electricity at an early date. An expert electrician will soon make his report to the company concerning this important change. What, then, would become of the great scheme to run the line along the pike?”

The Panhandle plan also fizzled.

Surveyors went to Cedarville and Wilmington as well as Yellow Springs, Springfield and Xenia. But neither Cedarville nor Wilmington got their trolley.

The operation here was run by the Little Miami Traction Company for the first year. That outfit sold out to the Springfield and Xenia Traction Company in 1903.

There were five cars originally, two combination passenger and freight cars and three coaches. They each had four electric motors of 50 horsepower each, an astounding amount of power for that day, and even for cars that weighed about 44 tons, were 48 feet long and stood about 14 feet high.

Hot Rods—1903

The electric powered monsters ran about 55 or 60 miles per hour, even though they were rigged so they could not reach their top speed. Built for extra-speedy service, the road engineers limited their speed after the first test runs because the rails and bed wouldn’t take it.

The trolley, running to Xenia and Springfield, started at 5:00 a.m. daily, and ran once an hour until midnight.

In the summertime, special excursion cars brought people from out of town to the free band concerts and dancing at the Neff Park Pavilion and later to the summer Chautauqua.

The cars used in Yellow Springs were an unusual lot, built for speed. The trolley mechanism was also a rather unique business, involving a twin pair of power lines where one usually served. The extra line and connection—which doubled the cost—were designed to allow quicker turns when a one-way run was completed.

Trolley Gone 22 Years

The traction line died July 25, 1934, when the last car rolled.

Currently there is one major United States highway running through Yellow Springs, U.S.-Ohio Route 68. There is also State Route 343, the Clifton Pike.

All the village roads have now been paved. They make a total of 23 miles of municipally owned and maintained roads. In addition, there are a number of paved or gravelled county and township roads.

Train travel was not without its hazard...(Photo courtesy of Antiochiana)

Train travel was not without its hazard…(Photo courtesy of Antiochiana)

From the Howard Kahoe glass negative collection

From the Howard Kahoe glass negative collection

Trolley (photo courtesy of Antiochiana)

Trolley (photo courtesy of Antiochiana)

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The Senior Center Once upon a Time

The Yellow Springs Senior Center currently is an active focus of downtown, due to the initial hard work of some those in at the beginning (like Anna Struewing and Wesley Matthews) and to the continuing work and enthusiasm of its staff, volunteers and members.

Somewhere in the Center’s cupboards are scrapbooks of earlier years, with photos of some of the members (sometimes identified) and some of the activities, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia.


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Public Records Curiosities — Cemetery Records (Page 4)

Record pages like these shed light on what kinds of ailments were common in the WWI era, and what terms were used (what’s the difference between “consumption” and “tuberculosis”?). Sometimes the ailment named opens the door to sad questions — what were the circumstances of the Williams infant’s brief and tragic life, since “inanition” is defined as “exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment.”

The index to all pages can be found here.


January 15, 1911 – Pauline [Read] Winters – Broncho Pneumonia – Yellow Springs, O
January 23, 1911 – Martha Jane Husted – Carcinoma of Uterus – College Hill, Ohio
January 24, 1911 – Herbert Paul Massie – Pneumonia, Bronchial & measles – Hustead, Ohio, burial Yellow Springs, O
February 6, 1911 – Charles Ridgway – Ulcer of Stomach – Yellow Springs, O
February 13, 1911 – Effie E. Hursh – Pneumonia – Near Yellow Springs, O
February 22, 1911 – Estella Johnson – Operation, shock from – Yellow Springs, in Springfield hospital
February 27, 1911 – Israel Dawson – Paralysis – Yellow Springs, Ohio
March 2, 1911 – Maud May Wallace – Consumption – Yellow Springs, Ohio
March 24, 1911 – Curtis Anderson – Tuberculosis of lungs – Terre Haute, Ind., buried in Yellow Springs
March 27, 1911 – James Mingo – [Uranic bowel] – Yellow Springs, Ohio
April 15, 1911 – John Russel Adams – Pneumonia – Yellow Springs, Ohio
April 17, 1911 – infant, Williams – Inaninition – Hustead, Ohio, burial Yellow Springs, Ohio
April 20, 1911 – Lester Upton Athey – Pneumonia – near Hustead, Ohio

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Going Walkabout

Before the Yellow Springs Historical Society was in a position to launch projects the Yellow Springs Library Association had a Yellow Springs walking tour map printed on legal-size paper folded in quarters in 1984. The Historical Society continues to work on an expanded and updated version.

The walking tour brochure has been somewhat rearranged for ease of presentation in a web format.

Front and Back

Front and Back


Map of central Yellow Springs


Map Legend

Map Legend

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May marks the beginning?

It is no surprise that Glen Helen is a popular hiking destination, and May is a good marker for the start of the Glen’s (and downtown Yellow Springs as well) “high tourist season.”

The photo in this post is another from the Howard Kahoe glass negative collection.

The Glen Helen Association has established 1:00 pm most Saturdays as an opportunity to help keep the Glen in good condition and welcomes volunteer land stewards to serve as “Guardians of the Glen.”


Note accompanying photo (taken in mid 1910s) — “Glen, Yellow Spring”

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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — 1960s part 2

Although full-color bookplates were coming into their own in the 1960s, single-color letterpress designs were still being introduced.

F-616/F-751/M-751 — Used by both individuals and institutions, this design stayed popular well into the 1980s. Ernest Morgan’s note: “The famous ‘Praying Hands’ of Albrecht Dürer, adapted for bookplate use by Robert Whitmore. The story behind the hands is a moving one, and well known. Albrecht Dürer and his brother lived in 15th century Germany. They both wanted to be artists, but did not have the money to go to school. Albrecht’s brother ‘drew the short straw’ and Albrecht got to go to school. When he was done (or so the story goes) his brother’s hand had become so knotted and stiff from the years of work that he could not cut it as an artist. Albrecht then painted the famous painting as a lasting tribute.” F-616 is the smooth-paper version; F-751 and M-751 were printed on vellum.

F-756/M-756 — Another design favored by institutions because of the plentiful blank space for memorial  or donation imprints and designed by Valenti Angelo.

F-757/M-757 — Designed by English artist Nicholas Bentley.

F-758/M-758 — Note by Ernest Morgan: “This bullet cut appeared in a booklet advertising the Heidelberg Press, and was used by us with Heidelberg’s permission.”

F-759/M-759 — Another institutional design by Valenti Angelo, showing the kind of cut and imprint typically added.

Antioch bookplate F-616, F-751 or M-751


Antioch bookplate F-756 or M-756


Antioch bookplate F-757 or M-757


Antioch bookplate F-758  or M-758


Antioch bookplate F-759 or M759


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Yellow Springs Hospitality Advertising (1823 version)

It seems appropriate, with the official opening of the historically-themed Mills Park Hotel in a few days, to share a piece of promotion from nearly 200 years ago touting a Yellow Springs lodging option.

In an era well before the Internet (or even widespread photography), descriptions in newspaper articles were used to draw customers. Such an article by J. B. Gardiner in the Piqua Gazette issue of August 7, 1823, was originally collected by local historian Don Hutslar (who was indefatigable in searching out old newspapers).

Note some of the same concerns as today: parking (in this case, accommodation for horses) and locally-sourced food.

Watering Place in the

The SUBSCRIBER has been in the occupancy of this celebrated WATERING PLACE since September last, during which time he has been assiduously engaged in preparing accommodations for visitors during the ensuing summer, in the best manner which his time and means afford. He has now completed all the improvements, which he designs to make at present, and is ready for the reception of company. Although his buildings, pleasure grounds, etc. are not as extensive and well finished as he is in hopes they will be at a future day; and all the expectations of the public may not be fully realized; still, he can with confidence assure visitors that their situation will be rendered at least CONVENIENT AND COMFORTABLE. His new buildings are so constructed, that families, of several in number, can be accommodated entirely to themselves; and there are also a variety of small rooms, very pleasant, for single gentlemen and ladies.

The subscriber has not yet been able to fulfil his intention of preparing tepid baths this season; in another year he expects to furnish them. The cold baths, however, he believes would generally be preferred at this place. He has erected, in a most delightful and sequestered grove of cedars, a noew shower-house, solely for the accommodation of ladies. The old one has been thoroughly repaired, with new acqueducts, for gentlemen.

The pleasure grounds are considerably improved; though susceptible of great additional convenience and decoration.

At the bar of the Yellow Springs Hotel will always be found a choice assortment of liquors, together with all the foreign and native fruits which can be procured in this country.

The table will be carefully supplied with every variety and delicacy which the neighborhood affords. The world does not furnish a more eligible situation for a spring house than the one on these premises and at no place can the valuable articles of MILK and BUTTER to be furnished in a better state than here. It may be satisfactory, under this head, to assure the public that the subscriber always keeps his own cows in pasture fields; and that he will never purchase either butter or beef from any but persons well known to him, and who always pasture their cattle. This assurance is deemed the more necessary in this advertisement, as a disease, vulgarly called the sick stomach, has at times prevailed in this vicinity, supposed to have originated from making use of the milk, butter and meat of cattle which feed in the woods and prairies, where, it is said, there is a certain poisonous vine or weed, which proves fatal to cattle, and even to persons who diet on their produce. The best informed physicians, however, who have long practiced where this disease prevailed, do not attribute it to the cause above stated. Of late years it has almost entirely disappeared from this neighborhood.

The stabling will not be very good. The Subscriber has yet had it in his power to erect new buildings for this purpose. He will, however, promise to furnish excellent hay and grain, good pasturage, and attentive hostlers.

It is not an uncommon enquiry, in this prudent age of retrenchment, “What will be the price?” To this the Subscriber can only reply, that at every watering place, the requisitions of guests are so various, and the necessary attentions to some so much greater than to others, that no general rule can be made applicable to all—The terms must vary according to the necessities of the visitor. Where extra room, servants & other attendance are required, the price will be proportionately enhanced. Also, when separate rooms are demanded, the price will be greater, than where two or more persons occupy the same room. The subscriber trusts that he will never be justly chargeable with extortion. His character as an Inn keeper at the metropolis of this state for many years, will acquit him of suspicion. Nevertheless, he does not solicit the company of those, who would wish to receive his labor and attention for nothing. It is impossible for himself and family to ‘live on art,” as for the week and debilitated to be entirely restored, without resorting to the Yellow Springs.

To travellers, and occasional visitors, the prices will be the same as at the respectable taverns in the neighboring towns.

While the Subscriber pledges to his guests every exertion in his power to render their tarry here pleasant and salutary; he relies with confidence upon the munificence of an enlightened public, to reimburse the heavy expense; which he has with difficulty, incurred, and to encourage him to progress in establishing, in one of the most healthy and delightful parts of the world, a Summer Resort, for the fortunate and unfortunate, the old, the sick and the afflicted, the young, the gay and the fashionable; which, in its infinite natural advantages, is not surpassed, if equaled by Ballston, Saratoga, Bedford, or any other Springs in the United States.

Yellow Springs House 1855

Yellow Springs House, from the 1855 map of Yellow Springs available at the Greene County Archives website, site of the Festival and located roughtly where Bryan Community Center is now.

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