Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Warren County plans bicentennial festivities

By Randy McNutt rmcnutt@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON -- As parties go, this will be the biggest bash in the old-timer's life, with a cost of $248,000. Officials say it will be worth every penny, for tourist-rich Warren County will celebrate its 200th birthday only once: in 2003, when Ohio and some other counties celebrate their own bicentennials.

        On July 8, county leaders started making official arrangements. The bicentennial core group will plan local festival affiliations in August, launch a county bicentennial Web site in the fall, cast a county bicentennial bell in May 2003, and close things out with the burial of a bicentennial time capsule, set for October 14, 2003.

        “We want to make the celebration truly countywide,” County Commissioner Pat South said. “We want to make it affordable and take advantage of any existing tourism. We'll recruit volunteers from every community.”

  Some forgotten Warren County towns; years founded
  • Osceola, 1838
  • Socialville, 1878
  • Level, 1834
  • Fosters Crossing, 1859
  • Dunlevy, 1850
  • Hammel, 1845
  • Hen Peck, ?
  • Camp Hagerman, 1879
  • Scottsville, 1852.
  Sources: John Zimkus and Pat South.
        Cities and villages include Lebanon, Waynesville, Springboro and other picturesque towns. “They'll make our bicentennial look even more like a bicentennial,” Ms. South said.

        The $248,000 will come from various sources: $80,000 from the commissioners (in addition to paying for the new Bicentennial Commons flag plaza, near the county administration building); $2,000 from each city, township and village that can afford to contribute; and from individual sources if needed.

        The party will start March 24, 2003, with the opening ceremony. Commissioners will re-enact the first county commission meeting, held at the Black Horse Tavern; dedicate Bicentennial Commons on Justice Drive; accept a special bicentennial quilt that's being made by seniors, and start gathering items that will be placed inside a 100-year time capsule.

        The 250-pound bicentennial bell will be cast from 2,200-degree melted bronze ingots at the Justice Drive Campus by Verdin Bell Co. of Cincinnati. Schools, residents and officials will be asked to participate and help ring the bell for the first time. Miniature bells will be sold that day.

        “We're the only county that we know of that's incorporating our bell casting into a local bicentennial event,” Ms. South said. “We'll take the bell to every single community in the county.”

        A bicentennial float will carry the county's bell to at least 20 local events, starting with the Springboro Freedom Fest on May 17 and ending with Christmas festivals in Mason and Waynesville. Local officials will be able to conduct ceremonies next to the large harness that will hold the bell.

        A county gala will be held at the Warren County Fairgrounds July 12, 2003, featuring country singer Lee Greenwood, the singer and composer of “God Bless the U.S.A.”

        Margaret Drexel, of the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said March 24, 2003 marks the day Warren County became one of Ohio's earliest counties.

        “The same year Ohio achieved statehood, Jonas Seaman was issued a license to open his "house of public entertainment' (eventually the Golden Lamb) in Lebanon,” she said.

        Formed from Hamilton County by an act of the Ohio legislature on March 24, 1803, Warren County became official on May 1, 1803. The county seat, Lebanon, had popped up the year before. Other Ohio counties formed that year include Butler, Montgomery, Scioto, Greene and Franklin.

        By then, immigration already had started to the Ohio country. Gen. Anthony Wayne's victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 and the Treaty of Greenville in 1795 all but assured the end to fighting with Indian tribes in most of Ohio. “The tide of immigration, so long delayed by savage hostility, flowed in, and before two years elapsed, the pioneer's ax rang out in every township between the Miamis, and settlements extended up Todd's Fork far into the Virginia Military District,” wrote the editors of A History of Warren County, Ohio, in 1882.

        In 1803, Warren County was home to only 854 people, but that was more than the number of people living in neighboring Montgomery, Butler and Greene counties. Today, about 158,000 people live in Warren County. Although it falls behind Montgomery and Butler, Warren County is one of the state's fastest-growing areas and a leader in job creation.

        Deerfield Township also was formed in 1803, becoming the most influential community in southern Warren County in those times. Also, Hamilton, Franklin and Wayne townships were established that year.

        Early villages in the county included Ridgeville (established 1814), Franklin (established 1796), Waynesville (settled in 1797, established in 1801), and Springboro (settled in 1796, established in 1815.)

        To leave its mark on tomorrow, the county will bury a time capsule. “The goal of the committee is to offer a wide range of historical and cultural artifacts as a contribution to education and lifelong learning,” said Pamela Swartz, Warren County records manager and archivist.

        Artifacts will come from citizens through the Internet, the mail and in person. Suggested contents include black-and-white photographs of community events, storefronts, sporting events, the downtown and family life; literature pertaining to Lasik eye surgery; clothing; toys; computers; disposable cameras; mobile phones; interviews; sheet music; letters written to children of the future; and publications.

        “It is our hope that the vault will be opened in 2103 and that those opening it will find interest (and possibly amusement) in its contents,” Ms. Swartz said.

        Information: Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1-800-791-4FUN.

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