J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 14

In which J. Peery Miller describes sleds and sleighs used in his time…

Sleighing was a popular sport much enjoyed by the young people. Nearly every farmer had some kind of outfit on runners prepared for the snowy season. I recall three at our home. These were not all intended for sport, however. A log-sled was made from two heavy pieces of timber about five feet long and six inches thick, selected from a tree twelve or fifteen inches in diameter. Sometimes a tree could be found that had a natural bend that would serve for the front turn-up of the runners when hewed into shape with an ax. If a tree with a natural curve could not be obtained the farmer or his mechanic beveled the front end of a straight piece of timber into sled-runner shape. The two runners were held in their proper place by cross ties or bents about three and one-half or four feet in length pinned firmly into mortised out cuts in the tops of the runners. The pins were made of hickory or oak driven into inch and one half augur holes. The front was arranged to attach a tongue with double-trees to which two horses could be hitched as to a wagon. If more power was needed additional horses could be hitched to a chain with double-trees at the end of the sled pole or tongue. This bob-sled was used for sledding heavy saw-logs either directly to the sawmill or to a level place outside the woods where, at the farmer’s convenience, they could be easily loaded on a log wagon and hauled to the mill in warm weather. In loading, one end of the log was rolled on the back bent of the sled and firmly chained fast. Thus connected the log was dragged sled like to its destination. When I was too small to be of service as a helper I well remember the thrill enjoyed when I was permitted to ride astride the log when everything was ready for the start and the slipping was good.

Log Sled

For gaity and speedy motion something lighter and of better finish must be contrived. My brother Milton was ingenious and quite skillful in the use of tools. He fashioned the woodwork of a regular sleigh patterned after the best in use in our neighborhood in the early 50’s of the 19th century. The Donnelsville village blacksmith did the iron work, after which it was brought home to be painted and varnished in regular shop-work style. The threshing floor of the barn was swept and dusted as the best place to display artistic ability in painting. I can now say without fear of contradiction, that this vehicle, with its shiny yellow coat of paint and dashing red and white stripes, out classed every thing in the sleigh line in our neighborhood. Its lasting qualities were scarcely surpassed those of the deacon’s “One horse shay” of historic fame. I fact it was in use every winter with favorable snows from my earliest recollection until the final break-up by sale of all of our personal property after the death of my father (1863). I remember that its strength was tested in several horse run-a-way-fracases, coming out unscathed save a few minor breaks and scratches.


A hastily made run-about on runners which would be quickly constructed with little or no expense was sometimes used by men and big boys. It consisted of two runners obtained by splitting a small hickory or dogwood sapling of sufficient length to serve as both side runners and shafts for the horse. The runner section was about four or five feet long from the rear end to the front at which point the timber was shaved thin enough to permit it to be bent up to form the shaft not detached from the runner. The bed of this run-about was nothing more than a cut of a round piece of timber about eight or en inches in diameter and three or four feet long, held in place in the center of the vehicle, by four up-right standards two and one-half or three feet long anchored to the runners at the lower ends and to the center log at the other, or top ends, being pinned at the points of insertion in augur holes of sufficient size to insure strength. This arrangement served to hold the runners in their proper places and support the center log at a proper height to be used as a seat for the driver and one or two other fun desiring passengers. In case the rider’s legs were too short to reach the runners as he sat astride this log seat, his ability to stay put would depend greatly on the grip his hands could sustain. Thus it is plain to see that this style of joy riding was principally confined to men or long-legged boys.

Box Sleigh

For milling and general farm hauling a sled of suitable length to accommodate our two-horse wagon bed or box was constructed. The wagon bed, with tight floor and broad sides, made a suitable rig for the family to take long distant rides in very cold weather, if the snow was of sufficient depth and well packed. My sister, Elizabeth Hance, lived near Casetown, Miami County, O., and used to visit the old homestead in a sled of this kind in bitter cold weather. Plenty of straw or hay in the bottom of the box, warmed with well-wrapped heated stones or bricks, and warm comforts for lap robes, insured a nice comfortable ride of twenty or thirty miles in the most bitter cold. A return visit in a like vehicle was a delight to me in my early childhood.

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1870s Sketchbook — Part 11

Serendipitously, the next three sketches in the book were done in October.

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A Woman Finds Yellow Springs a Haven

This profile from Women of Greene County highlights one woman’s experience as immigrant in a time when war had nourished a national sense of distrust (see also this post).

Tsuchino Koishihara Kakehashi (1881-1964)

Tsuchino Koishihara Kakehashi was on of the thousands of Japanese Americans on the west coast who was forced to leave her home and live in an interment camp following the United States’ entry into World War II. People of Japanese heritage were shipped to one of ten internment camps because of a distrust of their loyalty to the United States. On the West Coast there was fear that some might aid in a Japanese invasion. (About forty-five years after World War II, Congress tried to rectify such a gross denial of civil rights by giving each person interned a $20,000 settlement.)

Kakehashi lived in Japan until 1917. She was a midwife. She married a ship’s chef and early int their marriage they immigrated to Seattle, WA. She continued her work and had three sons. As with so many immigrant women, she did not go to language school. However, when her husband opened a dry cleaning service, she worked with him there. Thus, she came into contact with English speaking people daily.

Her husband died when their sons were in their teens. Then came the war and internment. The two older sons volunteered for the army. George, who had studied Japanese, was put into Special Services where his language skills were needed. John was in the famous 442nd Regiment Combat Team. This Nisei group was the most decorated United States unit during World War II.

In the Idaho internment camp Kakehashi was informed that she and their youngest son could leave…go into the interior of the country if a sponsor could be found for them. On the sponsor list was a Yellow Springs family who had worked in Japan as missionaries. They needed child care. Kakehashi felt comfortable about the sponsors’ having lived in Japan and being Christians. In Seattle, Kakehashi had become an active Episcopalian.

The arrangement was made. In Yellow Springs, Kakehashi worked for the Fredrick Lemke family who had two small children. Lemke became the Greene County Engineer; his wife, Frances, taught at Antioch College. Sam, Kakehashi’s youngest son, went to high school and was president of the senior class. After high school graduation Sam joined the Navy. All sons got some college studies. George and John worked at Vernay Lab in Yellow Springs after being in the service. Sam became a dentist. In time, George had a family of three daughters—Kakehashi was will family again.

Kakehashi had abundant energy and initiative. She filled her days with work, and enjoyed arranging flowers. On Sundays she took the bus to Xenia to attend the Episcopal Church. After an absence of fifty years she visited her homeland. There was much good feeling between Kakehashi and many of her relatives.

Kakehashi is to be admired for her strength in building a productive life for herself and her family in the face of great adversity.

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We’ll Be at Street Fair Again!

Come see our booth in front of the Yellow Springs News building for an assortment of books, mugs, maps, Antioch Publishing Company items, and this year we’ll be selling our popular sugar cookies made from a genuine 1860 Yellow Springs recipe.

It’s the perfect time of year to pick up a copy of Haunted Houses: Spooky Tales of Yellow Springs.

Igo book cover page

Every Street Fair the booth includes an illustrated display featuring some facet of Yellow Springs history, and this time we turn to Antioch College theater history. “Do you remember Shakespeare Under the Stars”?  Tell us your stories at YS Historical Society booth.

photograph by Bahnsen Studio
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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — 1990s Part 14

The group demonstrates the increasing importance of media properties. The default packaing is still the gold-foil box of 30.

0131-7 — photograph by John Show

0132-5 (Box of 30) and 0196-1 (Sleeve of 12) — Star Wars photograph of R2-D2 and C-3PO.

0133-3 (Box of 30) and 0197-X (Sleeve of 12) — Animaniacs (never produced)

0134-1 — by giftwares illustrator Laurel Birch, printed with gold foil highlights

0135-X — taken from cover art by T. Jacobus for the Goosebumps series of paperback YA books.

0204-6 (sleeve of 12) — adapted from Star Wars poster art

0205-4 — Mickey Mouse design licensed from Disney

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Depression-Era Job-Hunting Tips

An example of the kind of life advice given to the C.C.C. camp members in The Hooey. Unfortunately, the quality of the scan makes the accompanying cartoons hard to interpret, but they are included anyway.


By Pather Lowell

Time was when daily newspapers devoted considerable space to columns headed “HELP WANTED.” Even in these dubious days your local papers may find their way to the Camp Library bearing such glad tidings as “HELP WANTED.” It pays to keep your eye on these classified ads and to read news that may tip you off to a possible job.

Beware of advertisers who want you to work entirely “on commission.” Even if such jobs are legitimate, being “on commission” today reminds us of the story about the salesman who went into a restaurant and ordered very sparingly from the menu.

“What’s the matter?” queried the waitress. “Are you on a diet?”

“Hell, no,” sighed the salesman, “I’m on commission.”

Don’t waste time looking for employment at factories where men are being laid off.

Look for places that look busy, and then state in a few simple but straightforward words what you can do. Don’t argue about wages. Be content with a modest start and be willing to work at any job that offers advancement to a better one.

Don’t, however, make the common error of telling a prospective employer that you can “do anything.” Tell him truthfully just what you can do whether it is swinging an axe, wielding a pick, keeping books, driving a truck, or cooking.

Go after the job yourself. Ask your friends for timely tips or help, but don’t expect them to get the job for you. That’s your job and it’a a man’s job that requires plenty of thought and action.

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J. Peery Miller Memoirs — Part 13

All posts from the J. Peery Miller Memoirs are indexed under the “Blog Multi-Part Series” tab above.


Social circles were formed of congenial spirits and friendly parties were given at the homes of those prepared to entertain. These were most enjoyable events. In the maple sugar season taffy pullings were quite common among the young people. It was the custom for the boys to arrange conveyances to bring together the young people invited to these functions.

We had at our home a large two-horse spring-wagon with seating capacity to accommodate three or four couples if properly arranged. Price Gordon, a neighbor boy about my age, with whom I was pretty chummy, could persuade his parents to let him use a team of horses, and I, by use of my persuasive power, with promises to use great care to prevent accident, could get permission of my parents to use this famous old spring-wagon. Thus, Price furnished the team and I furnished the conveyance, which arrangement enabled us to do our part in bringing the young people together. Being proprietors of the carrying outfit we assured the right of seating the couples in a manner most congenial to friendship, taking care that the ladies of our choice occupied the seats next to us.

At times the road were bad, mudholes terrific, but our horses were strong, the driver skillful, and mud-splashing helped to contribute to the amusement of the journey.

Now-a-days attempts are sometimes made to reproduce an old fashion taffy-pulling party, but to my mind they fall far short of the old-timers. The modern young people are too self-conscious, too fettered by so called rules of propriety. Great freedom of action must be allowed during the taffy-pulling process. He was a poor puller who could not stretch his mass of golden wax into a rope extending from hand to hand stretched at arms length from shoulder to shoulder. During this process much fun was evoked by an accidental(?) stroke in the face of an unguarded participant by the be-smeared hands of a very careless(?) puller. Sometimes a well formed rope of taffy, with all its sweetness, suddenly encircled the neck of feminine beauty no less sweet, the work of a mischievous performer. When this sport began revenge on the part of the supposedly injured party, aided by her friends, began in earnest. The way this sweetened compound was sacrificed in a tit for tat battle was frightful to behold! Finally order was restored and good humor prevailed due to the general sweetness of the contest. After this melee taffy, popcorn and apples were served in proper form to all and the merry making still went on, the company being seated around the room on chairs, benches and footstools, with all of which furniture the old-time kitchen and dining room was well stocked. General conversation was the rule, but many affectionate couples found opportunity to converse in whispers on subjects sacred to themselves alone.

Good taste dictated adjournment at reasonable early, hour, seldom later than midnight. The home going was after the manner of coming, party dropping out at the road or gate most convenient to his or her home. The conveyance was then returned to the home of the owner, and the driver, mounting one horse and leading the other, lonely takes his team back to its starting place, which is frequently several miles distant.

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Before the Senior Center

The Senior Center is now a focal point of the 200 block of downtown Xenia Avenue in Yellow Springs, but it was not always the tenant of that building.

In 1966 Mrs. Thelma Chenault (shown below) moved her gift shop specializing in “rare and interesting jewelry and other rare and exotic items brought from all over the world” into 227 Xenia Avenue, sharing the space with attorneys’ offices.

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YSLA History — Part 6 (Final)

Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5

Like its predecessors over the years, the Library Association raises money through dues as well as the sale of various items. Its annual fundraiser is the Founders’ Day Books and Brownies Sale, which takes place each January right where the library got its start — Deaton’s Hardware. The Association also sells t-shirts, sweatshirts and notepaper as well as a tote bag with the Tree of Knowledge logo.

The Tree of Knowledge. It is an appropriate symbol for an Association that got its start 100 years ago with a group of women who believed it was important for Yellow Springs to have a place where people could read and learn, where they could borrow and share books, and experience the power and the pleasure of the printed word. The Yellow Springs Library was born out of that belief and has been nurtured by it over the years. That same belief echoes in the purpose of the Library Association today and in the words of Dr. Boris E. Nelson, who spoke in 1966 at the dedication ceremony for the then new library building:

“The vitality of a community is mirrored in an active library, whose function exceeds the mere storing of books. With imagination and inventiveness, a library can be and should be a veritable beehive, a nerve-center of a community, where the mature seek answers and where the young can first learn the meaning of history and adventure. . . . This facility, may it be blessed with many customers and the continuing consideration of those who have planned and worked for it, but also of the community-at-large, which can show its pride in it by making full use of it and keeping it well-supplied with books.”


There are about 150 members in the Library Association at present. All interested persons are invited to join. Dues are $3 per year and include a subscription to exLibris.


The Association meets on the second Wednesday of each month, October through April, for a short business meeting followed by a program that includes time for friendship and discussion. Meetings are open to all; one does not need to be a member to attend.

The library today, as photographed by Paul Cooper (available as full-color postcard at the front desk
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1870s Sketchbook — Part 10

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