A Summer Kingdom in 1981 (part 1)

Recently the Historical Society received a donation from Sue Parker of an album of photos taken by Bob Parker of the summer Shakespeare Festival of 1981 when Arthur Lithgow returned to Antioch College to direct a sequence of history plays, the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III, on a special stage constructed behind Birch Hall.

Although there were no captions, some of the participants will be familiar to Yellow Springs residents.

Thanks to Sue for sharing the memories of this event.

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From the Beginning: Wires, Water and Waste

With 90 degree temperatures in the offing we are asked to conserve what we usually take for granted, so it seems appropriate to take a look at how we got here with our village utilities, as laid out in an article from the 1956 Centennial edition of the Yellow Springs News. Bear in mind that Gaunt Park was the site of the village dump at that time.

Town Pump First Utility; Now Have 1.5-Million System

From a single town pump, financed by the infant village in the 1860’s, to a system of service facilities valued at more than $1,350,000 is the history of utilities in Yellow Springs during the first century of its incorporation.

The first municipality owned and operated utilities were the muscle powered water pumps and coal oil (kerosene) or gasoline street lights. Today the village owns electric, water and sewage systems and operates a garbage collection and disposal service.

Many Town Pumps

Residents of the pre-waterworks day eventually could fill their buckets at a number of pumps throughout the village, including Walnut and Cliff Sts., Walnut and Dayton Sts., Davis and Stafford Sts., Xenia Avenue where Deaton’s Hardware is now, Dayton St. and Xenia Ave., Xenia Ave. and Woodrow St. and Marshall and Livermore Sts.

The first streetlights were erected here in 1878. A variety of fuels were used, ranging from kerosene to gasoline to coal oil. Regardless of the fuel, the method of operation was the same. The village hired a man—the fabled lamp-lighter—to refuel and light the lamps each night.

This got to be a bit of a chore for the man with his cart, for by 1896 there were over 100 streetlights in operation.

Electricity in 1910

Although there were bond issues (unsuccessful) and demands for a waterworks thirty years or so before a pumping plant was installed here, the electric utility was the first of the modern-day utilities established.

The first electric power used here was turned on April 28, 1910, snapping electricity into 60 carbon-filament streetlights and the newly-wired Opera House. The power arrangement was paid for through a $6,000 bond issue.

The post office and a number of downtown business houses were the next in line to receive electric power.

At that time, the village was receiving electricity from a small Cedarville power plant. In 1915, the Cedarville plant sold out to the Dayton Power and Light Co., which fed the power to the distributing system here.

In 1930 the contract with the DP&L expired and the village bought electricity from the power plant at Antioch College, which had been supplying some of its own power and added more generators to service the village.

By 1937, the load was increasing to the point that the college bought a 300 horsepower diesel engine to double the plant capacity.

But in 1948, the power needs of the village grew too large for the college plant and a contract was again signed with the Dayton power company.

1165 Electricity Users

Today there are 1165 homes and businesses in the village supplied with electricity.

The electric distribution utility here is not taxed. But the assessment for government purposes recently estimated the value of the utility at $775,000.

In the early days streetlights burned only until midnight, when the power was turned off and the few late-living residents dropped into darkness. Later, power was turned on Monday mornings as well as at sundown, so that housewives with new electric washing machines might do the week’s wash.

Eventually, electrical gadgetry became so advanced that a clock was rigged to turn the streetlights on and off, the lights burned all night and electricity was supplied to homes 24 hours a day.

Long before the first switch was thrown in the Yellow Springs electric system, there were movements for a waterworks here to supply pure water and adequate fire protection. But it was not until 1927 that a $52,000 bond issue for building a water works and mains was approved by voters.

Wells “Filthy” in 1881

Way back in February of 1891 local doctors, professors and students cried “filth” after investigation of public wells. A letter to the REVIEW editor demanded a “pure water supply system.” The doctor maintained that only “cast iron stomachs” had saved the town from ruination and epidemic. That fall, the village council discussed the costs of a standpipe and pump. The REVIEW editor commented then “talk is cheap—but there will very likely be more than talk in the future.”

In 1895, following several block-gutting fires, the village citizens considered a waterworks in special elections. It was repeatedly turned down. One election—on Oct. 4, 1895—saw the waterworks proponents lose their battle by one vote. With 171 votes for a $23,000 waterworks operation and 87 against, the waterworks proponents were one vote shy of the necessary two thirds majority.

Passage was not secrued until the 1920’s.

Waterworks in 1928

In 1927 work was started on the first part of the village waterworks, with a pumphouse at Whitehall Farm. On Sept. 28, 1928, the first tap was made at Whitehall.

The village water utility is now valued at an estimated $300,000. There are now two well fields, the original station north of the village and the other built in 1953 to the southeast on the Faye Funderburg farm. The latest wellfield cost about $18,000 for boring operations and pumping machinery.

There is one 100,000 gallon storage tank (on High St.), as well as machinery to pump, filter and chlorinate the water. Daily water consumption generally runs between 300,000 and 500,000 gallons. The two pumping stations can reach a capacity of about 800,000 gallons a day.

Sanitary Sewers in 1938

The sewage system is a recent development, turned over to the village board of Public Affairs only July 1, 1938, after completion. But outdoor privies had already been outlawed in the village in the 1860’s although the law was not observed.

The total cost of the system came to about $130,000, with a direct village appropriation of $32,000. Most of the work was done as a New Deal Works Project. Administration project. With $96,000 in WPA attributed.

The site for the disposal plant was donated by Hugh Taylor Birch after Glen Helen was proposed as possible sites. Birch also donated $8,200 to cover the extra cost involved in putting the disposal site at its present site rather than in the glen.

The college contributed its system to the village utility, retaining a $6,000 outstanding debt on its system and contributing another $1,388 for obtaining right of way and title to the land used for the disposal plant.l

The sewage system, including the disposal plant, is currently valued for tax purposes at $275,000.

Present plans call for moving the plan down the hill into Glen Helen, as soon as finances permit. The move would eliminate the need of a pumping station to pump the sewage uphill.

Garbage Collection Begun

The subject of municipal garbage collection was first brought up in village council here in 1929, six years after the village dump was opened. It was not until Feb. 29, 1954, that the first official garbage collection was made with a spanking-new garbage packer truck.

The village had pretty well filled its dump by 1954 and according to a statement made by Kahoe at that time, “we now have to do otherwise than in the past.”

Since 1954 garbage collections have been hauled to the Xenia land-fill. The village council has now budgeted for a new disposal site and lawyers are now working on condemning and buying the property.

Funds have also been budgeted for purchase of a new, larger packer truck. The budget call for purchase next year.

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Know Your Town — Organizations/Churches

A few of the organizations active in the 1960s are so still, but many have disbanded or morphed into something else,  and many of the organizations still functioning have faced dwindling memberships and community involvement.

Many local organizations welcome interested new members.

YELLOW SPRINGS COMMUNITY COUNCIL, established in 1942, is a coordinating agency composed of representatives from civic organizations and governmental bodies in the community. Council works through its committees: Arts Council, Community Chest, Recreation, Bloodmobile, United Nations, and Welfare. Monthly meetings are open to the public.

ARTS COUNCIL sponsors classes for children and adults in painjting, modeling, modern dance, ceramics, and other arts. The council also arranges displays and sponsors an annual demonstration of arts and crafts.

BOYS (Business Organizations of Yellow Springs): local businessmen cooperating to increase community awareness of merchandise and services available locally, and collectively supporting activities and programs that benefit the whole community.

CIVIC ASSOCIATION: citizens’ community action group interested primarily in local political activity.

COMMITTEE FOR A COUNTRY COMMON; organizations and landowners cooperating to preserve open space east of Yellow Springs.

FRIENDLY GARDENERS CLUB: performs some civic work, writes a gardening column for the newspaper, and sponsors annual flower shows.

GLEN HELEN ASSOCIATION: organization for the protection of Antioch’s Glen Helen and for the encouragement of the community’s natural areas.

GREENE COUNTY COUNCIL FOR RETARDED CHILDREN: association of parents and other interested people which administers a School for Retarded Children.

LIBRARY ASSOCIATION: promotes the work of the public library and maintains its building and grounds.

MIAMI TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE FOR FAIR PRACTICES: information and action group supporting fair practices in this area.

SENIOR CITIZENS COMMITTEE: provides a social center for those over fifty-five.

VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY SERVICES, established in 1961 and sponsored by Antioch College, is a student-organized and administered organization through which students offer their services, free of charge, to numerous village organizations, upon request. The project is jointly financed by the college and the Yellow Springs Community Chest.

YELLOW SPRINGS ARCHERY CLUB: group of archery enthusiasts of all ages who meet throughout the year and sponsor an archery fete every April.

YELLOW SPRINGS YOUTH CLUB: informal organization for young people and their families, whose activities include recreation, education, and special projects.

National groups which have local representation include:

American Association of University Women; American Home Economics Association; American Legion and Auxiliary; Boy Scouts and Cubs,; Campfire Girls; Continental Association of Funeral and Memorial Societies; Explorers; Girl Scout and Brownies; Girls’ and Boys’ 4-H Clubs; Grange; Free Associated Masons and Order of the Eastern Star; Home Demonstration Club; Independent Order of Odd Fellows and its Lodge, the Rebekahs; Junior Chamber of Commerce; League of Women Voters; Lions and Lioness Clubs; Mental Health Association; National Congress of Parents and Teachers; National Federation of Republican Women; Red Cross; and Women’s Strike for Peace.

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YS Historical Society Program: Goes Boom!

Goes Boom!

One of the landmarks of the Little Miami bike path between Yellow Springs and Xenia is a brick industrial building. On Sunday, June 24, at 2:00 pm, in the Yellow Springs Senior Center Great Room Dave Neuhardt will use photographs and maps to tell the sometimes explosive 80-year saga of gunpowder-making in that building along the Little Miami River in Goes Station, Ohio in a reprisal with updated information of a program first given in 2011.

The program is open to the public and is free. Light refreshments will be served.

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Yellow Springs Develops Fire Safety

This coming Saturday, June 9, downtown Yellow Springs will be throwing one of its semi-annual Street Fair parties. (Make sure to check  out the YS Historical Society’s booth in front of the Yellow Springs News building for mugs, books, maps and other special items.)

As the following article from the 1956 Centennial Yellow Springs News indicates, what we know as downtown might have been quite different had it not been for the disastrous fires which both reshaped downtown and shaped the need for fire safety organization.

Destructive Fires Frequent in Early Years

Destructive fires are a part of the history of early Yellow Springs, and it is small wonder that some of the first steps taken by the infant village government a century ago aimed at the control of fires.

Funds were early appropriated to provide village pumps at various sites and in 1867 the old village council minutes book shows the council passed its first fire prevention ordinance.

It took a few years before the village got anything approximating fire protection, however. In May of 1873 the village bought four fire extinguishers. In August of that year, five leather buckets bought in Springfield were added to the equipment.

Bought Engine in ’78

Five years later, in March of 1878, the village bought its first fire engine, a hand-drawn hand pumper, according to village council records.

For a while the equipment was stored in the stable of A. F. Hopkins. But in February of 1891, it was moved from that “inglorious position” to the new town hall, the Opera House, according to the Yellow Springs REVIEW of that era.

A large fire on Dayton St. on Nov. 6, 1891, prompted organization of a fire department. But apparently that didn’t last long, for with the aid of townspeople, professors and students at Antioch put out a fire in South Hall in 1894. There was no mention of the fire department in the REVIEW report.

On May 6, 1895, another large fire stirred interest in fire protection for the village. On that date the TORCH (another predecessor to the NEWS) reported that all the buildings were gutted in a square bounded by Corry St., Xenia Ave., the railroad and Dayton St. Only a shift in the wind saved the post office. The Springfield fire department, telegraphed for aid in the emergency, arrived too late to do much good.

Help Came by Rail

In August of 1895, the Springfield and Xenia departments were called in on another big fire here. The Springfield fire equipment was hauled here on the Little Miami Railroad. The Xenia crew came via horse. When the Xenia fire chief returned home, he was in for a severe reprimand from the Xenia city council because Xenia was left unprotected. That ended the Xenia aid for Yellow Springs.

The Yellow Springs council went into debate on the question of fire engines and water cisterns. A special election was held Aug. 26, 1895, on a $7,000 issue to purchase a fire engine and build a reservoir. It didn’t pass.

Waterworks Election

On Sept. 13, 1895, council called a special election on a $23,000 waterworks, at the same time forming restrictive ordinances on the types of structures built in town as a fire preventative. The waterworks issue was voted down. Village limits extended far out into farming land then and some farmers voted against the waterworks because the benefit to them would not justify the additional tax that would be levied on the large landowners who had few buildings to protect. This factor defeated proposals for waterworks until the 1920’s when village limits were pulled back into the village proper and number of voters and the area affected thus trimmed down.

In January of 1896 a fire broke out at Xenia Ave. and Glen St. A bucket brigade was started but the lack of a water supply cut the effectiveness of the brigade. A call for help was sent to Xenia, but the Xenia firefighters refused to come. Springfield dispatched its company but they had trouble and didn’t arrive in time to put out the fire. A few days later, 11 horses, several farm implements and 5,500 bushels of grain were destroyed in a $7,000 fire in the barn of Dr. I. W. Baldwin.

Insurance Rates Up

On Jan. 16 of that year, the Hustead NEWS (later consolidated with the REVIEW into the Yellow Springs NEWS) reported that insurance rates went up here because of numerous fires within a short time. Some people, said the editor, had trouble getting insurance at all.

The comment of the day was “insure and let it burn.”

By Feb. 7, 1896, the urgency of the situation prompted village council to purchase an 80-gallon chemical engine—hand-drawn—for $1,100.

The village got its fire engine, but apparently everybody was not happy with the situation. The advocates of a waterworks were “madder than hornets and talked of trying to make the councilmen pay for the machine out of their private funds,’ according to the Hustead NEWS.

Fire Company in ’96

By March of 1896 a fire company had been organized and was in “good working order.” The Hustead NEWS reported that the recently purchased engine “will put out any ordinary fire.”

By the following year, five water cisterns were built by Thomas A. Donley and his brother, Steve Donley, at a cost of $200 each. The cisterns were 24 ft. long, 6 ft. wide and 9 ft. deep.

The cisterns were located on Xenia Ave., in front of the Antioch Bookplate Co.; near the Presbyterian Church; near what is now Hughes Ford Co., 138 Dayton St.; near the Methodist Church and near the former Odd Fellows Hall on E. North College St.

The cisterns—and the equipment bought earlier—were paid for by a $2500 bond issue passed April 19, 1896.

Present Department Begun

On May 13, 1907, the constitution of the Yellow Springs Volunteer Fire Dept. was officially adopted. George H. Drake, operator of a saw mill near the present Community Nursery School—was first fire chief. Clarence Schlientz was assistant chief, with C. H. Ellis serving as secretary and Edward Hackett as treasurer.

Members were H. L. Hackett, Edward A. Oster, A. E. Humphrey, Russell Young, Joseph Sroufe, John H. Birch, J. N. Wolford, George W. Sroufe, Fred Schlientz, James Dailey, R. T. Ridenour, Edward Dailey, James Fitzgerald, Laurence Scott, Leo Murray, William Alexander, Frank McLain, William Loe, Richard Dennison, Thomas Dailey and Charles Sipe.

First Auto Truck

In 1915, village council bought a Lambert friction-driv engine, the first self-propelled piece of fire equipment used by the department here.

Edward J. Carlisle, who was an early fire chief, maintained the Lambert and was on the squad for about 15 years. He says that prior to the days of the Lambert, about 1912 or 1913, the department here used a gasoline-motor-power pump, but that it had to be hauled by hand.

Between 1923 and 1925, according to Carlisle, the department got two pieces of motorized equipment, a Model T. Ford with two 30 gallon chemical tanks and the International pumper on which children now play in the elementary school yard.

The Lambert was scrapped about 1924.

Harold Rahn, former fire department secretary, says that in November of 1933 the department received a brand new 1934 chassis, scrapped the Model T Ford chassis and transferred the chemical tanks. Only a few years ago the chemical tanks were removed and a water tank installed on the ’34 Chevrolet chassis. This truck is still an effective piece of equipment.

In the 1940’s two more pieces of the present-day equipment were added to the department. Two Ford trucks, similar 1942 models, were delivered to the department, one in 1942 and the other in 1945. Both are pumpers, with a “midships” pump.

Now Four Trucks

The latest piece of equipment was added in 1953, when a used 1948 Ford truck chassis was mounted with a front-mount pump and other items built to specifications of the local group. Firemen did a great deal of work themselves to make the new truck as effective as possible.

The new item of equipment was added after the department had been reorganized in 1951 as the Yellow Springs division of the Miami Twp. Fire Dept. The department came under the jurisdiction of the Miami Township trustees at that time. The trustees took over jurisdiction of all equipment, since all but the 1934 model Chevrolet had been bought with taxes for fire protection paid by all of Miami Township (including Yellow Springs and Clifton villages).

James A. Dalrymple, present fire chief and holder of that office since the 1951 reorganization, reports that the 1934 truck now has a portable pump, while the other three pieces of equipment each have pumps capable of throwing 500 gallons of water a minute.

Dalrymple said that 35 is the normal complement of men. There are 34 on the squad now. Present officers include Guy Varner, assistant chief; captains Andrew Benning and Robert Beal; and lieutenants Raymond Dihrkop, Raymond Stackhouse, Ralph Grimes, and Donald (Bud) Shinkle.

Lester Brewer is the squad’s engineer, with Ralph Bittner serving as assistant engineer.

Ralph Hackett has been president of the local fireman’s association since 1951. Richard Woodruff is vice president and John Hart is secretary -treasurer.

The local department belongs to the Clark County, Greene County, Ohio (state) Central-Western and National Fire Protection Associations. There are mutual aid agreements in effect with almost all the other fire departments in Greene County.

There are regular evening-long training sessions on the third Tuesday of each month and a one-hour training session at the monthly business meeting.

Besides these sessions, a number of the members have taken special training under the Ohio department of education’s vocational divisioin of trade and industrial service.

There are only six members remaining from the group active prior to 1951. They are Robert Beal, Lester Brewer, Jack Birch, Ralph Hackett, Burnell Ehman and Ralph Oster. Ehman and Oster are honorary members.

The force also includes active members Raymond Adams, Edward F. Carlisle, Kenneth Coffman, Harold Cordell, Russell Cordell, Victor Cordell, Warren Cordell Jr., Wilbu Deaton, William Foulk, Charles Garrett, Wendell Grimes, Reginald Lawson, James McKee, Harry Morgan, William Nickoson, John Nickoson, Thomas Newsome, William Patrick, Louis Washington and Richard Woodruff.

Indefinitely inactive are William Hooper and Robert Porter. Sidney Davis and Bernard Hamilton are on the inactive list.

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Long Lost Grocery Store

The October 4, 1956 issue of the Yellow Springs News was a supersized one dedicated to the village’s centennial. In addition to numerous in-depth articles about various facets of village history, business ads used the opportunity to highlight their own histories.

One such ad concerns a business now long gone of which many current residents may not be aware.

A Youthful Bow to Yellow Springs

We’re only fourteen, and we feel pretty young when we think about our town’s being a hale and hearty hundred.

We were a war baby, and of a rather recent war at that. We grew up in the days of dial phones and television, and completely missed out on the horse and buggy and the cracker barrel.

Grocery stores were changing a lot too by the time we came along. Chain stores were multiplying and markets were turning into supermarkets.

We wanted to try something new, too: a co-operative store, a store created and owned by its customers. (Of course, in other parts of the country and in Europe co-operatives had long sing reached maturity and respectability.)

We started out as a small buying club, then set up shop in the basement of Morgan House on Limestone Street. We grew awhile, and moved to a small store on Xenia Avenue. Later the building we were in was torn down to make way for the Standard Oil station, so we took up residence in our present High Street neighborhood. Here we kept on growing, right out of an old house and into a brand new building of our own next door. And we had to build and addition to take care of our gangling teens.

We learned, as many others have, that Yellow Spring has always had a place for new ideas and new enterprises, just as it has for new schools and new parks.

A town like Yellow Springs is just as young as it feels, and it’s about the most youthful town of a hundred that we know. What’s more, our community is still growing, with every prospect for an exciting future.

And with your support, we’ll grown with it. For our part, we pledge the best service possible to a community of wonderful people who deserve the best in every way.

Our hat, if ever a fourteen-year-old had one, is off to Yellow Springs.

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Lost Project

Among the miscellaneous papers in the Historical Society archives was this description of an ambitious project related to Yellow Springs history drafted in the mid-1990s. There is so far no indication that it ever got beyond the description stage, and sadly, most of the individuals involved are no longer with us to share their passion for the project.

As worthy a project as it is, it is also beyond the scope of what the current Yellow Springs Historical Society board can accomplish, but it may serve as inspiration, perhaps for a school project.

Excerpt of 1910 Sanborn map showing downtown Yellow Springs


Preliminary formulation of the documentation of the history of the downtown business area of Yellow Springs, Ohio.


After some lunch hour discussions between Frank Betcher, Irwin Inman, and Paula Spier, Vice-President of the Yellow Springs Historical Society, a meeting was set up between the above three, and with Julie Overton, President of the Yellow Springs Historical Society, to begin to formulate a plan to document the history of downtown Yellow Springs, Ohio. The meeting was held at Paula Spier’s house on January 7, 1994, at 11 a.m.

A tremendous amount of thoughts were presented and discussed during the initial meeting, and the followng description is based largely on that meeting, plus an after-meeting discussion between Frank Betcher and Julie Overton. The information cited below, based largely on the initial meeting’s discussion and consensus, was typed by Julie Overton that same afternoon, Jan. 7.


Frank Betcher (research); Irwin Inman (photogrpahy); Julie Overton (Coordiniation); Paula Spier (compuiter work). George Dewey has also indicated willingness to help during later stages of writing and researching. The Board of the Yellow Springs Historical Society has formally agreed to back the project, and to pay for initial costs involved, such as photographic materials and developing, and initial copying fees as needed.


The ultimate goal of this project is to be able to describe the history of the businesses and owners of all downtown lots as identified in the SCOPE paragraph.

The descriptions would be based on information from public documents (deeds, telephone books, etc.), published information (newspapers, etc.), unpublished written records (diaries, letters, scrapbooks, etc.), and oral interviews, either those which have already been done, or interviews conducted during the project.

The photographic record would cover as many downtown sites as possible; sources of images might be old postcards, family photographs, newspaper publications, published sources, current and recent photographs as taken by Irwin Inman and other village residents, artistic renderings or copies thereof, etc.

The format, if any, of a finial “project”, has not been determined. Possible formats would be a published project of photographs and descriptive history, permanent display information at one or more public sites, collection of archival and photographic materials into one holding, or other possibilities; the one or more final formats will depend upon how much material is collected, what other ideas come up, etc.

Being an ongoing project, there is no deadline set at this time.


The geographic area to be included in this project is being proposed as follows:

Xenia Ave., starting on the north end where Dayton St. intersects, and ending at the Limestone St. crossing. Both sides of Xenia Ave. would be included.

Dayton St., starting on the north where it intersects Xenia Ave. (extended), and continuing southwest to the Walnut St. intersection; both sides of Dayton St., would be included up to Walnut St.

Corry St., both sides, from Dayton St., southeast to Kieth’s Alley, including Ehman’s.

Walnut St., east side only, from Dayton St. down to Limestone St.

All buildings or businesses along the described streets, (Walnut St. along the east side only) or inside the “downtown” area will be included in the project, whether it is a business or a dwelling.


The research will proceed in terms of Yellow Springs lot numbers, those being the one constant known at this point. Each lot will be considered as a research unit, and all research notes, photographs, etc. will be organized according to those lot numbers. The lots in the triangle formed by Xenia Ave., Walnut st., and Short St., will be indicated as 1A through 9A, the others simply with the lot number. The use of the lot number as the constant delineator will help the researcher focus on one area that is (hopefully) clearly defined, and will also serve as a quick way to pull miscellaneous information together as it is collected.

The “street scape” will be considered as a separate entity, but not forgotten. Thus information about the electric trams, sidewalks, street lights, cisterns, etc., can be included. These “areas” will be designated as XA, DS, SS, WS, CS and KA.


  1. The lots will be measured and will be matched with current (1994) street numbers. If there is some way each lot can be marked “on site”, it will be done clearly but unobtrusively. All maps. Photographs, and historical materials will be keyed into the lot number via a computer data base program.
  2. A sort of “adopt a lot” program will be initiated, especially for the research portion. A person, persons, or group, will adopt a particular lot and conduct research on the current and past owners and/or renters. All research materials will be keyed to the particular lot; information collected “accidentally” about other lots will be noted and keyed to the other lot number for later reference and research.
  3. Visual images will be collected or copied, and, again, keyed to the lot number(s) shown in the image.


All efforts will be on a volunteer basis, the individuals cited at the beginning of this overview serving as the initial core.; More individuals will be enlisted as possible and as needed, and will always be assigned to a particular lot; Julie Overton, as Coordinator, will keep track of the efforts “on behalf of” each lot number as volunteers sign up.


In order to be as effective as possible, Julie Overton will alert the public to the project by first making a presentation, if allowed, to the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce. In that manner, all downtown businesses will be informed of the project; their help may be enlisted; they may also be aware of source materials pertaining to their business or structure which could be of benefit to the project. The formal backing of the YSC of C will be asked for.

At the same time, it would be announced that the project would like to have a temporary “headquarters” in the downtown area, so that researchers would have a central place to spread out maps, compare photographs, or to interview current or past business owners or residents. Room for a large table, a few chairs, and perhaps a filing cabinet or two would be needed. The Yellow Springs Historical Society is registered as a not-for-profit organization, and thus any “rental fee” for space an owner might allow to be used could be tax-deductible.

The Yellow Springs NEWS will be contacted to see if they would be willing to run short articles about particular lots, as the research is begun. A photograph of the site, and/or perhaps of the Sanborn map layout might be included. The article would give a brief description/history of the lot and would ask for information or volunteer help in getting that lot number described in words and images.

The YSHS booth at the Sidewalk Sale might be utilized to make the village residents aware of the project, and additional volunteers might be recruited as well. Residents might also be able to bring in photographs to be copied, or could drop off written information they happen to have about a particular lot’s history.


The material needed to develop a full history of each lot number can be found in a number of places. The following is only a beginning list – further resources will undoubtedly be identified.

SANBORN mapss: these insurance maps date from 1895 until the 1940’s; these maps show the outine of all buildings in the downtown area; the early onesidentify the type of business being conducted; later the structure use is only either Dwelling or Store. (GCR; JO; PS; FB)

DEEDS: The Greene Co. Recorder’s Office has deeds for the entire county; the Yellow Springs deeds start about 1851 when William Mills sold land off as individual lots. (GCRO; GCR).

NEWSPAPERS: The history of Yellow Springs is documented both in the Yellow Springs News, and the Xenia Gazette, as well as other area newspapers, although to a lesser extent. (ACA; GCR)

DIRECTORIES: These cover largely pre-1900 information (GCR)

TELEPHONE BOOKS: The names and addresses of the residents and businesses are included in the white pages; the yellow page have additional information. (GCR)

ORAL HISTORY: This is an invaluable source, and is scattered around the county. Individuals still have their information “in their head”; taped oral interviews are also available (GCR, YSL).

CENSUS RECORDS (1850-1920): although the information was collected street by street, family by family, the areas covering the project can be identified, and the families thus abstracted (GCR, WSU).

ARCHIVAL MATERIALS: This includes scrapbooks, letters, and other miscellaneous written materials. (GCR, WSU, GR)

ATLASES: Greene County atlases were published for 1855, 1874, and 1896; these maps give good detail about the downtown Yellow Springs area, and serve as foundation information. (GCR; YSL; WSU; GH; JO; other residents).

It is entirely possible that, once the project gets started, individual research/photography volunteers will need a copy of the resources they might be able to tap into, thus a separate “Sources” list will probably have to be compiled; the list would be based on the above information, and expanded as additional sources become known’/available. They might also get a “starting packet” of the basic information already known via the Sanborn maps.


As lots are completed, a full write-up could be done. A synopsis of that history could be given to the current business owners who could use it for publicity flyers, etc. Credit for the researchers, photographers, writers and/or editors would be cited at all times.

Plaques might be developed which individual business owners could post (inside? outside?) with a historical abstract.

The lot numbers might be made into weather-proof tiles/markers which could be posted on the outside of the buildings. This could sreve both as an identifier for the research, and/or as an enticement for residents and visitors to learn more about our downtown history.,

Programs could be held about particular lots; these programs could present information about the lot “in focus”, and could also serve as “memory meetings”, in which individuals could relate personal information about the lot, and/or bring pertinent photographs.

Other areas of the village could be approached in the same way. The lot numbers for the “old” Yellow Springs area (bounded by Corry St., Herman St., High St. (both sides), and Dayton St.) are consecutive and continue numerically after the downtown area lot numbers; thus they would be ready-made research parcels. The Oakwood Addition (north of Dayton St., between High St., and Railroad St., over to Fairfield Piike), although surveyed before 1874, was numbered separately.

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Know Your Town — Health/ Recreation

The underlying questions when looking at this portrait of Yellow Springs of the early 1960s has to be what have we lost, and what improvements have we made? Know where your town has been, and know where it’s headed.

Public health facilities are available through the Greene County Board of Health, with headquarters at Greene Memorial Hospital in Xenia, consisting of a physician, nine nurses, and five sanitarians. The work of the Board is financed by federal funds and county bond issues. Services are provided by some special volunteer organizations. The Board administers:

A Public Health Nursing Program which provides care for those with chronic and contagious illnesses, and for new others and infants.

A School Health Program including pre-school examinations, polio, diphtheria, and smallpox immunization; periodic ear and eye examinations, and health education.

A Yellow Springs Well-Baby Clinic, located at the Yellow Springs Methodist Church, 212 South Winter Street, and open on the first Wednesday of each month.

County Clinics: chest, hearing, heart, cancer, and dental; these are held periodically at Greene Memorial Hospital in Xenia. Referral to the Hearing Clinic is by the school nurse and to all other county clinics by private physicians. For further information telephone the Board of Health.

A Crippled Children’s Program.

A County Sanitation Program.

Tabulation of County Vital Statistics.

The Greene County Child Guidance Center, located in Xenia, is supported by fees, Community Chest contributions, and the State Department of Mental Health and Correction.

The Village of Yellow Springs is fortunate, too, in having complete private medical facilities. The Yellow Springs Clinic, located on Xenia Avenue, consists of ten doctors, including a surgeon, internists, obstetricians, pediatricians, gynecologists, and a radiologist, using common facilities and equipment . In addition to the Clinic, the Village has two physicians in general practice, two dentists, and an optometrist.

The village’s recreational facilities reflect a strong interest in family fun and relaxation.

The Yellow Springs Recreation Committee has sponsored the following activities for youth:

Summer baseball program for boys 8-12, 12-15; softball league for girls. (Representation on Tri-County League —older boys)

Summer swimming instruction for boys and girls. Adult swimming program.

Summer Day Camp for 8 weeks with crafts and games at Mills House, for children 5-11 years of age.

Tennis instruction and tournament.

Folk dancing—twice monthly.

Saturday morning activities in Mills Lawn Gymnasium for boys and girls in the fifth to seventh grades. Eighth to twelfth grade boys at Bryan School. This includes a tumbling program.

Ice skating.

Open shop for adults in the evening.

Activities on an experimental basis in cooperation with other community organizations.

Ellis Park, site of the village water works, has been set aside as a recreational area.

Wheeling Gaunt Memorial Park, donated to the Village many years ago by an ex-slave boasts a municipal swimming pool (built by contributions and hard work by villagers), baseball diamonds, and other recreational facilities.

Village Farm, south of village, to be used for camping picnicking, and the pond for fishing, when developed.

Scouts and 4-H members have nearby area camps. Camp Birch, located near Bryan State Park, serves Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts’ Camp Greene is located on the Little Miami River.  4-H Club Camp Clifton nestles in the Clifton Gorge area.

Two and one-half miles northeast of Yellow Springs, adjoining Glen Helen, is Bryan State Park, 756 acres of picnic and recreation ground. Orton Pool is available to groups from the state, and to Yellow Springs residents at specified hours.

Glen Helen, along the eastern boundary of Yellow Springs, is a 950-acre primeval forest preserve. Antioch College shares its laboratory of recreation, conservation and land-use with the community. The Glen is the site of the mineral spring which gave the town its name. Hiking tails, interesting rock formations, streams, traces of the early history of Ohio (back to the Glacial Period) and a Trailside Museum offer their beauties at all seasons. Antioch students provide leadership for groups of children 5-8 years old, and for a Junior Science Club of older children. Bryan High School students plant and sell Christmas trees from its school forest in the Glen each year. In 1955 a school camp for the use of public school children from southwestern Ohio was built in the Glen—a unique experiment in group living and outdoor education.

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YS Oddfellows and the GAR Cannon

UPDATE: Yellow Springs News coverage of the event

The Yellow Springs IOOF Lodge #279 has made possible the restoration of the crumbling base of the GAR memorial cannon in Glen Forest Cemetery.

On Sunday, May 27, at noon the Oddfellows will hold a rededication ceremony at the site of the cannon. The public is invited to come to the ceremony and see the fine work done to preserve a bit of Yellow Springs history.

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Remembering Jane Cape

At the recent program on the history of Yellow Springs schools, Jane Cape’s name came up in connection with the nursery school at Day House. A newspaper clipping from the Xenia Gazette circa 1974 with her as a subject was found among those collected by Mary E. Morgan and given to the Yellow Springs Historical Society (more on Jane Cape can be found here).

She’s active at 87

DAILY GAZETTE staff writer

Jane Cape makes women’s libbers look puny.

Her 87th birthday was observed yesterday in the office in which she works regularly at the third career in her life as associate curator of Antiochiana, Antioch College’s collection of memorabilia.

Miss Cape isn’t a women’s reform militant. She’s an independent person who has been “doing her thing” as she sees fit — and accomplishing much since coming to Yellow Springs 47 years ago.

After 26 years as professor of home economics at Antioch, Dr. Cape came to the usual age of retirement and left the faculty. But sitting around was not for her, and she departed for Baghdad, where she helped set up a home ec and nursery school at Aliyah College, then Iraq’s only college for women. During the five years she was there, she broke both arms and lived through the 1958 revolution.

SINCE JOINING the Antiochiana staff on her return home, she has added considerably to the collection, drawing on her first-hand knowledge back to the presidency of Arthur E. Morgan. Surgery and hospital stays twice for broken hips have made her only pause in the pursuit of an active life and eyesight problems have not stopped her work.

Miss Cape — in the Antioch tradition not called by her degree title although she holds a doctorate in chemistry — is one of an independent family of Wisconsin homesteaders. She recalls the time her mother, on crutches at the age of 89, made the train journey from Wisconsin, alone, to visit her in Yellow Springs.

Her work and her associates always have been pioneering in the mental sense. At the University of Wisconsin, she worked under the discoverers of three vitamins. Seeing herself as a nutritionist, she nevertheless, at President Morgan’s request, set up the Antioch Nursery, one of the first two such schools in Ohio and one of the first 18 in America.

During World War II, she set up 10 day care centers in Dayton for that city’s board of education, to help mothers going to work in the factories and trained their staffs.

MISS CAPE remembers how difficult it was to get children enrolled in the 1926 nursery school. Skeptical mothers felt they were shirking their duty in leaving child care to others. The school was part of Morgan’s desire for college study of the whole child.

Education for women was not a popular idea in Iraq when Miss Cape went there a quarter-century later.

And now the education of women at Antioch is a special interest, as Miss Cape is looking for information, both written and oral, about the college’s women of days past to add to the historical collection.

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