Friday, December 01, 2000

Seeing, touching a slice of 1883

Time capsule to be opened at celebration

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BATAVIA — A cholera scare turned back would-be immigrants, the Cincinnati Reds were on the tail end of a road trip, doctors advertised their cures for cancer, and a parade was held way out in the boondocks of Batavia.

        The day was Thursday, July 26, 1883, as captured in The Cincinnati Enquirer.

        The event in Clermont County was the burial of a time capsule, following a procession of horse-drawn wagons that drew hundreds of spectators. The capsule was sprinkled with corn dust, anointed with oil, buried, and over the decades, forgotten.

   • What: Clermont County's Bicentennial Gala.
   • Where: Oasis Golf Club and Conference Center, 902 Loveland-Miamiville Road, Miami Township.
   • When: Event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday. The time capsule will be opened at 6:45 p.m.
   • Information: Tickets are $60, including dinner, and a limited number are still available. Call the convention bureau today at 735-1072.
        On Saturday, we'll find out what's in it.

        The opening of the capsule is the cornerstone of the county's bicentennial gala celebration Saturday night at Oasis in Miami Township. That's only fitting.

        The capsule — a lead or tin box slightly smaller than a bread drawer — was encased in the 300-pound cornerstone of the Old County Home on Ohio 222 in Batavia Township, between the sheriff's department and the county jail.

        In 1883, Masonic organizers made no plans for when the capsule should be opened. So it sat. The county's year-long 200th birthday party seemed ideal.

        “This was considered a very big thing at the time,” said Gary Knepp, a Batavia attorney and director of the county convention bureau's historical department. “We thought this would be perfect timing. This was the only thing that's reaching back and pulling it forward.”

        The capsule was unearthed Oct. 7 but wasn't opened. The only indication of its contents comes from local newspapers' accounts of the burial.

        “We shook it,” Mr. Knepp explained. “Things moved around. But as for what's in it, no one really knows.”

        The cornerstone inscription reads: “By request of the county commissioners this stone with memorials it contains was laid by Batavia Lodge No. 104 F&A.M. under direction of C.C. Keifer G.M. of the Grand Lodge of Ohio.”

        But other than the reference to “memorials,” bicentennial organizers have steadfastly kept the possible contents a secret.

        Saturday's event also includes dinner, dancing, and a fireworks display.

        But the evening star will be the capsule of an era when you could take a train from Cincinnati to Niagara Falls, round-trip, for $14.75. Or visit Dr. T. F. McCormack on Walnut Street in Cincinnati, where you could buy rubber dentures for $5.


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