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Friday, March 16, 2018

Recalling An Interview With John Silas Doll -- His Father, Abraham, at Gettysburg


In 1988, on the occasion of the 100th graduating class of Valley High School, students from the 12th Grade Composition Class videotaped four prominent senior citizens: Nell Bumgarner, Valley Davis, Lynn Sloan, and John Doll. All of these people were treasures of local history and valued members of their community. The tapes preserved some precious moments with these individuals. The project was enlightening in so many respects … to the students and to me, their teacher.

That year marked Mr. John Silas Doll's 100th birthday. Being a resident of the West Side of the Scioto, he us told of his days on the Ohio-Erie Canal as well as of his early school days, his prized gardens, and his father's participation in the Civil War.

I want to write two blog entries to pay tribute to Mr. Doll. For 105 years he graced our community. When he passed, a great source of local history was extinguished. This first entry deals with Doll's ancestry and particularly with John's father, Abraham Doll, and his Civil War service. Abraham deserves special recognition in the historical annals of Lucasville. I hope you enjoy his story.

Ancestors of John Silas Doll

(a) Grandparents

John George Doll, was born 1810 in Ross County, Ohio. He was the son of Abraham Doll and Margaret (Anna) Ross. His father came to Ohio from Pennsylvania in1800, and settled in Highbanks, Ross County. He married Mary (Margaret) Graham June 25, 1834 in Scioto County, Ohio.

John George settled in Washington Township soon after marriage, and in 1841 the family removed to Rush Township, where they lived until 1850. They then returned to Washington Township, where John died in January, 1852, aged forty-two years. 

(b) Parents

Abraham Doll, the son of John George and Margaret (Graham) Doll, was born in Scioto County, Ohio, on November 25, 1839. Abraham married (1) Caroline (Carrie) W. Russell December 18, 1865 in Scioto County, Ohio. The couple settled on a farm comprised of 135 acres of “well-improved land.” Mr. and Mrs. Doll had six children – James B., Clara M., William R., Joseph, Herbert, and Carrie. Caroline Doll died November 19, 1880, aged forty-two years.

Abraham later married Emma Elizabeth Clark October 01, 1884 in Nauvoo, Scioto County, Ohio. “Abe” served as “Township Treasurer five years, Justice of the Peace six years, and Trustee four years.”

Abraham fought for the Union in the Civil War. In October, 1861, he enlisted in Battery L, First Ohio Light Artillery, and served three years from October 28, 1861 to October 31, 1864. He participated in fourteen hard-fought battles and several minor engagements. Doll was mustered out at age 22, rank of private.

Abraham Doll died October 11, 1926, in Lucasville, Rush Twp. Scioto County, Ohio.

(c) John Silas Doll

One of the children of Abraham and Emma was John Silas Doll, who was born September 22, 1888 in Scioto County. (Zelma Jewell Doll Crawford was also born to Abraham and Emma.) John was married to Martha J. Lundy. He was the father of Helen A., Millard Armond, Vaughn V., Robert D., John Jr. and Naoma J. Doll. John died on December 17, 1993 at the age of 105. He is buried in the Rush Township Burial Park.

The rest of this entry centers on Abraham Doll's participation in the Civil War. It is a story touched upon by John Silas in our 1988 interview. John told us that his father had a horse shot out from beneath him in one battle – which, he did not say. How I wish we would have pressed him for more detail.

Battery L

The battery was organized in Portsmouth, Ohio October 8, 1861 by Captain L.N. Robinson and mustered in at Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio for a three year enlistment on January 20, 1862. The regiment was organized as early as 1860 under Ohio's militia laws, under Colonel James Barnett. Other Commanders include Captain Franklin C. Gibbs and Lieutenant Frederick Dorries, who commanded at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The battery lost a total of 24 men during service; 1 officer and 7 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 1 officer and 15 enlisted men died of disease.

The following accounts for Battery L's extensive and detailed service during the war:
  • Moved to Patterson's Creek, Va., January 20–27, 1862.
  • Advance on Winchester, Va., March 7–15, 1862.
  • Reconnaissance to Strasburg March 19–20.
  • Battle of Winchester March 23.
  • Occupation of Mt. Jackson April 17.
  • March to Fredericksburg May 12–21, and return to Front Royal May 25–30.
  • Moved to Alexandria June 29, and duty in the defenses of Washington until September.
  • Movement to Falmouth, Va., October-November.
  • Battle of Fredericksburg December 12–15.
  • At Falmouth until April. 1863.
  • Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
  • Battle of Chancellorsville May 1–5.
  • Gettysburg Campaign June 11-July 24.
  • Battle of Gettysburg July 1–3.
  • Duty on line of the Rappahannock and Rapidan until October.
  • Bristoe Campaign October 9–22.
  • Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7–8.
  • Rappahannock Station November 7.
  • Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
  • Duty at Camp Barry and at Forts Sumner and Kearney, Defenses of Washington, until July 1864.
  • Repulse of Early's attack on Washington July 11–12.
  • Expedition to Snicker's Gap July 14–23.
  • Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
  • Berryville September 3.
  • Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19.
  • Fisher's Hill September 22.
  • Battle of Cedar Creek October 19.
  • Duty at Winchester until December 28, and at New Creek until June 30, 1865.
  • Ordered to Columbus, Ohio, June 30.
  • Battery L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery mustered out of service at Columbus, Ohio on July 4, 1865.
This accounting of the battery in action at Gettysburg comes from “Reports of Capt. Augustus P. Martin, Third Massachusetts Battery, commanding Artillery Brigade, Fifth Army Corps”:

Battery L, First Ohio Artillery, Capt. F. C. Gibbs, moved up to the field in rear of the Second Division. One section, commanded by First Lieutenant Guthrie, was posted on the slope of the hill known as Rock Hill [Round Top], to the right of Battery D, Fifth U.S. Artillery. Another section, under command of First Lieutenant Walworth, was posted at the base of the hill, commanding the ravine in front of Rock Hill [Round Top]. The remaining section was held in reserve. The two sections posted in front opened upon the enemy, when he advanced upon our lines, with spherical case and canister, doing good service in checking the advance of the enemy.”

Here is another report of Captain Frank C. Gibbs, Battery L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery from the Official Record, Series I, Volume XXVII (SN #43) Gettyburg Campaign #222 ...

I have the honor to report the following as the operations of Battery L, First Ohio Light Artillery, the the Gettysburg campaign:
While in position guarding Banks' Ford, on the Rappahannock, 7 miles above Fredericksburg, Va., supported by the Forty-fourth New York Infantry, I received orders to be ready to move at a moments notice, and on the night of June 13 I started on the line of march with the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, passing through Manassas Junction and crossing the Potomac River at Edwards Ferry on Pontoons, and thence to Gettysburg. Marching nearly all night of July 1, we went into position about 8 a.m. on the morning of the 2d, to the right of the Baltimore pike, in a field of wheat, being thrown to the front of infantry support about 100 yards and in rear of our line of skirmishers some 60 yards. We remained under skirmish fire one hour, the infantry in our rear meeting with some casualties. From thence we took up our line of march, crossing Baltimore pike, and going into park on the left of it.

“About the middle of the afternoon an orderly came rapidly up, asking our battery to come to the assistance of the Fifth corps. I started on the trot, and reported to General Sykes, who ordered the battery to cover the valley. The rocky nature of the ground compelled us to unhitch our horses and place our guns in position by hand; the left section, in charge of Lieut. H.F. Guthrie, on the left of a road leading from the valley, and on the right slope of Little Round Top (Weed's Hill); the center and right sections, in charge of Lieuts. James Gildea and William Walworth, on the right of said road.

We had hardly placed our guns in position when the Fifth Corps was forced back by a terrific charge of Longstreet's corps, and came rushing through us, but began rallying on us as soon as they understood matters. Our front was hardly clear when the irregular, yelling line of the enemy put in his appearance, and we received him with double charges of canister, which were used so effectively as to compel him to retire. So rapidly were the guns worked that they became too hot to lay the hand on. But for the position of the battery, and the gallantry with which it was handled by the men, I have no doubt the enemy would have accomplished his purpose of breaking our lines at this point, and possibly changed the fortunes of the day.

“On the 3d, we remained in the same position, occasionally working the battery. A number were slightly wounded and Asa Kline was severely wounded. The infantry suffered considerably while supporting us.

“I have the honor to be, very respectfully,


F.C. Gibbs Captain, Comdg. Battery L, First Ohio Light Artillery”

Historians tell us Captain Gibbs and his 1st Ohio Battery L, with six Napoleans were stationed on the northern slopes of Little Round Top – described as a “low position.” For this reason, they couldn't fire until their own infantry troops had cleared the field of fire. Gibbs was said to became quite concerned over the Confederate troops that were quickly pressing towards his position on the heels of the Regulars. Colonel Samuel M. Jackson (grandfather of actor Jimmy Stewart) told Gibbs to double-shot his guns and he would see that the 11th PA would secure their safety. Some men of the 11th near the guns started to shout, "Stand by your guns, Dutchy, and we will stand by you!"

Gibbs had his guns loaded with double canister and once the Regulars had cleared his front, he ordered them to fire. They “did terrible execution on the approaching Confederate mobs from Anderson's, Semmes', Kershaw's and Wofford's Brigades.”

While Gibbs' Battery was in action, Captain August P. Martin was notified that General Weed had been mortally wounded. Weed had asked to see Charles Hazlett. Weed gave him instructions for the payment of some small debts and, as Hazlett drew closer to receive a confidential message, he was shot in the head.

“The few hundred yards to the foot of Little Round Top, already strewn with our disabled comrades, became a very charnel house” wrote a soldier in Col. Hannibal Day’s brigade “and every step was marked by ghastly lines of dead and wounded. Our merciless foes from their vantage ground…poured in volley after volley.” Watching from Little Round Top, one Union soldier later wrote “For two years the U.S. Regulars taught us how to be soldiers. In the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, they taught us how to die like soldiers.”

At Gettysburg, there stands a monument to Battery L.1st Ohio Light Artillery, commonly known as Gibbs' Battery. It is south of Gettsyburg on Little Round Top. It was dedicated by the State of Ohio in 1887. It reads ..

July 2. 3. 1863

Arriving on the field at 8 a.m. July 2, went into position under a brisk skirmish fire on the extreme  right of Wolf Hill. Afterwards moved to north slope of Little Round Top, and there became hotly engaged with Longstreet’s Corps then trying to turn the left. Held same position July 3.

This battery was recruited at Portsmouth Ohio, in the Autumn of 1861. Was mustered out July 4. 1865. Took part in 12 important battles.

By the way, Captain Frank C. Gibbs was a surveyor from Portsmouth, Ohio. He was wounded at Cedar Creek. Gibbs is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. He died August 2, 1888, aged 53.

View from Gibbs’ position looking west to Houck’s Ridge and the Wheatfield. Monuments to the U.S. Regular regiments dot Houck’s Ridge. The Regulars withdrew from the Wheatfield beyond the far tree line to the area where the picture was taken.

Works About Battery L and Gettysburg

Karlton Smith. Gettysburg Seminar Papers. Mr. Lincoln's Army. "Honor-Duty-Courage.” The 5th Army Corps During the Gettysburg Campaign.

Ohio In The War-Volume II. Whitelaw Reid. Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin. Cincinnati 1868
James Barnett Papers. James Barnett. Army officer. Cleveland, Ohio. Concerns Barnett's service with the 1st Ohio Light Artillery in the Civil War. 4 boxes. Western Reserve Historical Society. History Library. Cleveland. Ohio
Unit Bibliography. U.S. Army Military History Institute. Carlisle Barracks. PA. 1995 • 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Battery L. History. 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Battery L. Reenactors. Scioto County Ohio. 1996

Narrow Escape Story #7. Some Exciting War Experiences. by Ben Butterfield. Battery L. 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Ironton Register. Thursday December 30 1886. Transcribed by Sharon M. Kouns. 1998

Narrow Escape Story #40. Some Exciting War Experiences. by James & Frank Brammer. Battery L. 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Ironton Register. Thursday August 18 1887. Transcribed by Sharon M. Kouns. 1998

A Magnificent Irishman From Appalachia. The Letters of Lt. James Gildea, First Ohio Light Artillery Battery L. James Gildea Lt.. 1st OVLA Battery L. Written by Julian Mohr. Edited by Gary Piatt. 85 pgs. Published by Western Slope Round Table. 3850 Pleasant Avenue. Portsmouth. Ohio. 2002 Reprint: A Magnificent Irishman From Appalachia The Letters of Lt. James Gildea First Ohio Light Artillery, Battery L. 111 pgs. Little Miami Publishing Co. Milford. Ohio. 2003.

Richard A. Baumgartner. Buckeye Blood: Ohio at Gettysburg. Blue Acorn Press. Huntington. West Virginia. 2003

“Battery L, 1st Ohio Artillery Battle of Gettysburg.”

“Abraham Doll”

History of Lower Scioto Co., Ohio - Publ. Chicago: Inter-state Publishing Co. 1884

G.A.R. Auxiliary Plants 8 Trees. Portsmouth Times. April 23, 1941.

John P. Nicholson, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, Volume I, (Harrisburg, PA: WM. Stanley Ray, State Printer, 1904), 274-285. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 1880-1901, Washington, D.C., Ser. 1, Vol. xxvii, Pt.1.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Kelley Jakle, Actress and Singer/Songwriter -- The Great-Granddaughter of Branch Rickey

 Kelley Jakle

Branch Rickey received much of his early education in Lucasville schools, later stating Valley High School was his “alma mater.” This small town's claim to fame is not forgotten. Branch Rickey remains a giant figure not only in professional baseball but also in the civil rights movement. Now, let's fast forward a few generations to a new celebrity in the Rickey lineage – Branch's great-granddaughter, Kelley Alice Jakle.

Kelley Alice Jakle is an American actress and singer-songwriter best known for her role as Jessica in Pitch Perfect (2012), and its two sequels Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and Pitch Perfect 3 (2017). She is also known for her appearances on the first and second seasons of The Sing-Off in 2009 and 2010.

Jakle was born June 27, 1989, in Carmichael, California. Kelley is the daughter of Cynthia Houghton (Dunning) and Christopher/Christop Jakle. Kelley’s parents have English, German, and Irish roots. She has two older brothers and is the only girl in her family. Kelley’s paternal grandmother was Mabel Alice Rickey (the daughter of Branch Rickey and Jane Moulton). Branch was the son of Jacob Frank Rickey and Emily Brown, and Jane was the daughter of Chandler Julius Moulton and Mary Celia Smith.

While growing up, Kelley always enjoyed playing soccer, basketball, swimming, and “being a tomboy with her big brothers,” but she discovered her true calling when she starred as a Fuzzy Caterpillar in her 3rd grade play.

Jakle was active in music from an early age, performing as part of the Sacramento Children's Chorus, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events (including a San Francisco 49ers game in 2006 and a Los Angeles Dodgers game in 2013 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day), and auditioning for the singing contest American Idol. Jakle began writing music in 2003, her freshman year of high school, accompanying herself on the piano. By her junior year she had produced her first self-titled CD, containing five completely original songs.

After graduating from Loretto High School, Kelley attended the University of Southern California, where she majored in communications. In 2007, Jakle joined the USC a cappella group the “SoCal VoCals.” During her tenure in the SoCal VoCals, the group won the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in 2008 and again in 2010.

In 2009, Jakle took part in season one of The Sing-Off, a singing competition televised on NBC, as part of a group called "The SoCals". The SoCals were eliminated in the third episode. In 2010, Jakle again competed on The Sing-Off, this time as part of "The Backbeats.” The Backbeats finished the contest in third place.


While attending USC, Kelley joined the band, “By the Way” as lead vocalist. Other band members included Matt Santinello (Guitar/Vocals), Cody Oswalt (Bass), and John Farrace (Drums). The band released a self-titled extended play in 2007. During her junior year, Jakle released a solo extended play, “Spare Change,” featuring a mix of produced and acoustic tracks.

Jakle's style, though labeled "Pop,” is described by critics as “unique.” Drawing from such inspirations as Andrew McMahon, Michelle Branch, Patti Griffin, and Sheryl Crow, Kelley blends “her passionate piano playing with soulful vocal melodies to produce a sound all her own.”

After graduating with honors from college, Kelley remained in Los Angeles adding network TV appearances along with major feature films to her growing list of credits. She began working as an actress in Los Angeles. Her first film role was as Jessica in the 2012 musical comedy Pitch Perfect, with Jakle being chosen as a "ringer" due to her background in a cappella. 


In 2013, Jakle appeared in 42, the biographical film about baseball legend Jackie Robinson co-starring Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. In 42, she played the role of Alice. Jakle reprised her role as Jessica in Pitch Perfect 2 in 2015 and Pitch Perfect 3 in 2017. She also made an appearance on the Comedy Central television series "Workaholics." Kelley also released several singles in 2013, including a cover of "Ain't It Fun" by Paramore.

On July 29, 2016, Kelley originated the role of Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn! The New Musical at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California. The musical Marilyn! chronicles the star's childhood and tumultuous path to stardom. Set in the present day, the story follows Michelle, a young journalist from England researching Marilyn Monroe to commemorate the actress' 90th birthday. She visits Charlie Page, one of Marilyn's drivers, who is now living a life of solitude. Two stories emerge as Charlie bonds with Michelle and he recalls Marilyn Monroe's life in flashback and reveals the real reason behind his living as a recluse for over 40 years.

The cast stars Jakle as Marilyn Monroe, Kelley Dorney (PBS Concert Special A Tale of Two Cities) as Norma Jeane, and Samantha Stewart (Days of Our Lives) as Michelle Morgan.

In 2017, Kelley became a member of the “7th Ave.” band, a group of vocalists brought together in 2016 by Chris Rupp, the founder of Home Free. The website says: “Combining elements of pop, swing, rockabilly, country, and much more, 7th Ave is aiming to reinvent and uproot the standard definitions of all of those genres through our innovative arrangements and fun music videos.”

Kelley has also made appearances on Comedy Central's "Workaholics" and "Adam Devine's House Party."

Jakle is an ambassador for ReACT, a movement in Montana that encourages teenagers not to smoke. She talks about how living a healthy lifestyle has helped her follow her dreams. Kelly is part of the "Lead by Example and Be Tobacco Free" movement.

Kelley has been in a couple of relationships that have come to media attention. First was with her Pitch Perfect co-star Adam DeVine. Their relationship ended in 2015. Jakle soon began flaunting her new flame on Instagram. That new guy is Days of Our Lives alum Mark Hapka.

I hope you follow the career of Rickey's talented great-granddaughter. Kelley Jakle has established herself as both an accomplished actress and a musician. A beautiful lady still in her 30s, she is making quite a name for herself. Watch for her performances and enjoy her talent. Find her digital music on Amazon. Click here for more information:


“7th Ave.”

Hayley Levitt. “Marilyn Monroe Musical to Offer One-Night-Only World Premiere.” Los Angeles. July19, 2016.

“Kelley Jakle Bio/Wiki.”

“Kelley Jakle.”

“Kelley Jakle.”

“Kelley Jakle.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ohio Governor Robert Lucas and the First Democrats: Convention of 1832


Ohio Governor Robert Lucas served as the Chairman and President of the 1832 Democratic National Convention held in Baltimore, Maryland, from May 21 to May 23, 1832. This distinction was one of the highlights of Lucas's governorship. He had served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio State Senate before becoming governor, and he was a staunch Jacksonian.

In fact, one source ironically describes Governor Lucas as “a man much like Andrew Jackson in appearance - tall and slender, with a sharp nose, thin lips, heavy eyebrows over deep-set eyes, and heavy gray hair combed back from a high forehead.” In addition to his political service, Lucas was a wealthy landowner, surveyor, and a merchant who had built “one of the finest houses in southern Ohio set on farm of 437 acres.” Lucas was undoubtedly a man with a commanding presence.

* Note of Interest -- Lucas had been opposed in one state election by an illiterate Pennsylvania Dutchman names Delawder, whom he beat easily. According to the local historian, Delawder explained his defeat by saying he “was making a pooty good race, when that tam big General Lucas came along riding on his horse and the tam fools voted for him.” It was said “this (presentation by Lucas) was a not inappropriate style for a politician of the victor of New Orleans.”

A strong, self-reliant personality made Robert Lucas one of the most esteemed pubic servants of his day. Although he was a man of strong impulses, he was also a man of strict integrity. His experience in the War of 1812 helped make Lucas an exceptional leader. Stern and unbending in his policies, Lucas made an excellent statesman and governor of not one, but two states. 

The Convention of 1832

This was the first national convention of the Democratic Party of the United States; it followed presidential nominating conventions held previously by the small minority Anti-Masonic Party (in September 1831) and the National Republican Party (in December 1831).

In this convention, the Democratic Party formally adopted its present name. The party had previously been known as “Republican Delegates from the Several States.”

By the time of the convention, Lucas had achieved national prominence. Biographer Benjamin F. Shambaugh in Robert Lucas: Iowa Biographical Series (1907) relates the following:

The activity of Lucas in support of Andrew Jackson in the late twenties, together with his long and faithful career in the halls of the General Assembly had brought him, in 1830, to a place of distinct prominence in the Democratic politics of the State of Ohio.

To Robert Lucas belongs the distinguished honor of presiding over the first national convention ever held by the Democratic party of the United States. In the campaign of 1832 for the first time in the history of American politics the various parties pursued the policy of holding national conventions to nominate candidates. The Congressional caucus had passed away, and the nomination by local legislatures and mass meetings failed to give the requisite backing for a party candidate.”

Of Lucas' appointment, Shambaugh writes …

Judge Overton of Tennessee had been agreed upon as the presiding officer of the convention. He had been a lifelong friend and supporter of Andrew Jackson, and had succeeded him as Judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Upon his name being proposed as chairman pro tem. however, his colleague John H. Eaton, Jackson's late Secretary of War, arose and remarked that Judge Overton was sick and unable to attend that morning; he thanked the convention for the honor conferred upon his friend, and closed his remarks by moving that General Robert Lucas of Ohio should be chosen chairman pro tem. in place of the Judge. The motion was unanimously earned and Lucas was conducted to the chair.

The first day of the convention passed in organization and preliminaries. Tuesday morning the saloon of the Athenaeum (original site of the convention) was found too small to accommodate the convention and the members met in the Universalist church in St. Paul Street. Here the business of the convention began in earnest. Mr. King of Alabama, from the committee appointed to nominate officers, presented the name of General Robert Lucas as permanent chairman. The nomination was approved by the convention and Lucas took the chair.

After expressing his deep appreciation of the honor which they had bestowed upon him, Lucas paid tribute to the party they represented, whose object was to preserve the pure principles of Republicanism and to secure to the people the free and uninfluenced enjoyment of their rights and privileges. He emphasized the importance of the session and the propriety of sacrificing all personal feelings and local preferences for the sake of the cause in which they were engaged, which was to preserve the harmony and advance the prosperity of the great Republican party throughout the Union. He expressed a consciousness of his inability to perform the duty assigned to him in a manner corresponding with his wishes; but feeling no doubt of the support and kindness of the convention, he accepted the appointment.”

The purpose of the convention was to choose a new running mate for incumbent President Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, rather than employ previous methods of using a caucus of Congressional representatives and senators.

In 1830, Vice President John C. Calhoun (Jackson's first term VP) had fallen out of President Jackson's favor because of many things:

1. A letter written by Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford stated that Calhoun as Secretary of War in President James Monroe's Cabinet pushed for a reprimand of General Jackson over his actions in the Invasion of Florida in 1818.

Jackson's troops had invaded Florida, captured a Spanish fort at St. Marks, took control of Pensacola, and deposed the Spanish governor. He also executed two British citizens whom he accused of having incited the Seminoles to raid American settlements.

2. The Petticoat affair in which Calhoun's wife, Floride was a central figure further alienated Jackson from the Vice President and his supporters. Floride led other cabinet members' wives in socially ostracizing John Eaton, the Secretary of War, and his wife Peggy over disapproval of the circumstances surrounding their marriage and what they considered her failure to meet the moral standards of a cabinet wife.

With the encouragement of President Jackson, who liked them both, Peggy and Eaton had married on January 1, 1829, shortly after her husband's death, although according to custom, it would have been proper for them to wait until the end of a longer mourning period.

3. The final blow to the relationship came when Calhoun sank Van Buren's nomination to be Minister to England by casting a tie-breaking vote in the United States Senate.

Calhoun resigned from the vice presidency on December 28, 1832 (seven weeks after the presidential election) and became a Senator of South Carolina, where he continued to be a proponent of the doctrines of nullification in opposition to Jackson.

* Note of Interest -- The Nullification Crisis of 1832-33 was a confrontation between South Carolina and the federal government. It ensued after South Carolina declared that the federal Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within the sovereign boundaries of the state. Nullification claimed that a state had a right to nullify federal laws within its own borders. This debate foreshadowed the slavery controversy that would become the most divisive national political issue in U.S. history.

Calhoun was a native South Carolinian. For Southerners like him, the tariffs were intolerable since they artificially raised the prices of imports. Calhoun was appalled at this legislation, which appeared to benefit only Northern industry while gouging Southerners.

For some time Martin Van Buren had been cherishing the hope of inheriting the presidential robe of Andrew Jackson; and with this hope Jackson was fully in accord. However, Washington D.C. In 1831 was not a place in which one could patiently await such a legacy. The internal workings of the Jackson administration were anything but harmonious.

Early in 1831 Jackson decided to remake his cabinet. In April Martin Van Buren resigned his place as Secretary of State with the understanding that he was to be made Minister to England. In resigning, he admitted his candidacy for the office of President and laid his resignation to the fact that a cabinet minister with those ambitions would be open to the charge of manipulating politics to his own private ends.

Receiving the appointment as Minister to England, Van Buren soon left for his new post. Congress, however, was not in session when the appointment was made, and he arrived in London in September of 1831 without having had the action of President Jackson confirmed by the Senate.

In England, Van Buren entered upon a field of work for which he was eminently fitted. His ingratiating manners and fascinating personality at once brought him friends and social enjoyments. He made contacts with many of the leading representatives of Europe.

But Van Buren's enemies at home were not idle. His nomination, sent by President Jackson to the Senate in December, was rejected after a series of formal speeches by Webster, Clay, and others condemning the late Secretary of State. As President of the Senate, Vice President Calhoun had “the extreme pleasure” of casting the decisive vote against his enemy. Thomas Benton in his Thirty Years in the United States Senate tells us that Calhoun afterwards remarked: "It will kill him, sir, kill him dead. He will never kick sir, never kick."

Instead, Calhoun and his friends had overreached themselves. They had placed Van Buren in that uncomfortable but eminently advantageous position of a man publicly wronged. The reaction against the movement of Calhoun, Clay, and Webster soon made itself felt in America; and it was everywhere acknowledged that Martin Van Buren had, by that short-sighted blow, been thrust upon the people as the inevitable Vice Presidential nominee. Only by this compliment could his party defend him from the action of their enemies.

As President of the convention, Robert Lucas, together with the four Vice Presidents, drafted a letter on May 22, 1832, and sent it to Van Buren, announcing his nomination. Upon his return from Europe, Van Buren, on August 3, 1832, cheerfully consented to come before the American people as a candidate for the office of Vice President of the United States.

Martin Van Buren won more than two-thirds of the total delegates' votes. The convention endorsed the prior nominations in various areas of the United States of Jackson for the presidency. The convention concluded by adopting a resolution calling for an address or report from the delegations to their constituents.

The address described what they claimed were political similarities between Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson and it defended the policies of Jackson's administration. It characterized Van Buren as a strict constructionist and welcomed his nomination.

The address denounced the National Republicans as Federalists under a new designation. The address also denounced the Nullifiers. And, they declared their own party held the middle ground between the positions of the National Republicans and the Nullifiers.

Historian Shambaugh relates the end of the historic convention ...

Before adjourning Robert Lucas and the four Vice Presidents received the thanks of the convention for the prompt, impartial and dignified manner in which they had presided over its deliberations. It was then ordered that immediately upon adjournment tlie members would proceed to visit the venerable Charles Carroll, the only survivor of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. With prayer by the Reverend Mr. Wallace, the meeting ended and the Democratic party closed with the greatest of harmony its first national convention.”

The 1832 conventions played a crucial role in making organized parties a fixture of the U.S. political system. The Democratic convention adopted rules that succeeding conventions retained well into the 20th century. One rule based each state’s convention vote on its electoral vote, an apportionment method that remained unchanged until 1940. The 1832 convention also adopted the procedure of having one person from each delegation announce the vote of his state.


The Election

Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren defeated their main competitors, Henry Clay and John Sergeant of the National Republican Party, by a large electoral vote margin in the election of 1832. The electors of Pennsylvania supported Jackson, but cast their votes for William Wilkins for the vice presidency.

Governor Robert Lucas was a force who wielded considerable power in national politics. Ohio was a very important state in Andrew Jackson's election strategy. Jackson won Ohio's 21 Electoral Votes by a margin of 2.98% over Henry Clay. Lucas undoubtedly played a major part in Jackson's victory.

Most Ohioans initially welcomed Andrew Jackson's election. During his time in office, Jackson continued to force American Indians to forsake their land east of the Mississippi River for land west of the river. Many of Ohio's small farmers and industrial workers believed that land seized from the natives would open up new opportunities. Land prices would hopefully fall, allowing working-class residents the chance to either own or expand their landholdings. Ohioans also welcomed Jackson's attack on the Bank of the United States due to the Panic of 1819 and the Banking Crisis of that same year. Jackson succeeded in destroying the National Bank, but new economic problems arose in the late 1830s.


“1932 Democratic Convention.” Library of Congress. Main Reading Room.

Richard F. Grimmett, Richard F. (2009). St. John's Church, Lafayette Square: The History and Heritage of the Church of the Presidents, Washington, DC. Minneapolis, MN: Mill City Press.
“How Iowa Became a Territory.” Stories of Iowas For Boys and Girls. Chapter XXXI

James C. Humes. (1992). My Fellow Americans: Presidential Addresses that Shaped History.

William Nester. (2013). The Age of Jackson and the Art of American Power, 1815-1848. Washington, DC: Potomac Books.

John C. Parish. Edited by Benjamin F. Shambaugh. Robert Lucas. Iowa Biographical Series. The State Historical Society of Iowas. 1907.

Donald John Ratcliffe. The Politics of Long Division: The Birth of the Second Party System in Ohio, 1818-1828. 2000.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Governor Robert Lucas and the Toledo War

 Governor Lucas 

Robert Lucas (1781-1853), of the Lucas family that settled Lucasville, Ohio, became the 12th Governor of the State of Ohio. He served from 1832-1836. During his second term, Lucas County, Ohio was established and named for the governor. This was done in defiance of the Michigan Territory, which also claimed the land around the mouth of the Maumee River, thus provoking what is known as the Toledo War. Thus, here is another link to Lucasville, Ohio, and national history.

What do you know about the Toledo War? Have you ever heard about this conflict? If you consider the lingering ill will between Ohio State University and Michigan University fans, you might consider the fact that bad feelings between the two states originated long before the pigskin rivalry. Like many disputes, this aggression occurred because of land – land that housed part of the Erie Canal, fertile loam soil, and the growing village of Toledo – a “strip”strategically and economically destined to become a prosperous commercial region.


Holy Toledo! Who Owns It?

The Toledo War (1835-36) was also known as the Michigan-Ohio War. It was an almost bloodless boundary dispute between the State of Ohio and the adjoining territory of Michigan. However, this battle between the states had the potential to be so much more. It was, indeed, a civil conflict with tremendous effects. (Note: Wisconsin was, at one point, part of Michigan territory, too. This resulted in their loss of a huge “compensatory territory on the northeast.”)

Poor geographical understanding of the Great Lakes helped produce conflicting state and federal legislation between 1787 and 1805, and varying interpretations of the laws led the governments of Ohio and Michigan to both claim jurisdiction over a 468-square-mile region along the border, now known as the Toledo Strip.

In 1820–21, the federal land surveys had reached the disputed area from two directions, progressing southward from a baseline in Michigan and northward from one in Ohio. For unknown reasons, Surveyor General Tiffin ordered the two surveys to close on the Northwest Ordinance (Fulton) line, rather than Harris' line, perhaps lending implicit support to Michigan's claims over Ohio's.

Thus, townships that were established north of the line assumed they were part of the Michigan Territory. By the early 1820s, the growing territory reached the minimum population threshold of 60,000 to qualify for statehood. When Michigan sought to hold a state constitutional convention in 1833, Congress rejected the request because of the still-disputed Toledo Strip – “seven miles and forty-nine chains wide.”

Ohio asserted that the boundary was firmly established in its constitution and thus Michigan's citizens were simply intruders; the state government refused to negotiate the issue with the Michigan Territory. The Ohio Congressional delegation was active in blocking Michigan from attaining statehood, lobbying other states to vote against Michigan.

The situation came to a head when Michigan petitioned for statehood in 1835 and sought to include the disputed territory within its boundaries. Both sides passed legislation attempting to force the other side's capitulation, while Ohio's Governor Robert Lucas and Michigan's 24-year-old "Boy Governor” Stevens T. Mason helped institute criminal penalties for citizens submitting to the other's authority. In a blatant act of defiance, Governor Lucas turned the disputed region into a county named after himself and appointed a sheriff and judge.

"Boy Governor" Mason

Despite interventionist by President Andrew Jackson (Ohio was a critical swing state.), his Attorney General held that until Congress dictated otherwise, the land rightfully belonged to Michigan. Still, a compromise in April 1835 a compromise was proposed – that the re-survey to mark the Harris Line commence without further interruption by Michigan and that the residents of the affected region be allowed to choose their own state or territorial governments until the Congress could definitively settle the matter. Ohio Governor Lucas “reluctantly” agreed to the proposal, but Mason refused the deal, and continued to prepare for possible armed conflict.

Both states deployed militias on opposite sides of the Maumee River near Toledo. Lucas said his militia numbered 10,000 volunteers. Soon, the Michigan press dared “the Ohio million” to enter at their own risk and “welcomed them to hospitable graves.”

“Here there confronted one another across the line the Governor of scarce twenty years and the veteran of over a half century. And behind each was an army as determined as its leader. Surely unless some intervention occurred the next step was war.”

Battle of Phillips Corners

But, besides mutual taunting, there was little interaction between the two forces. Still determined to continue establishing boundaries, Lucas sent out surveyors to mark the Harris Line. Permission had been granted by the federal government to do so.

The project went without serious incident until April 26, 1835, when Deputy Sheriff, Colonel William McNair of Tecumseh, Michigan led a party to intercept the survey group from Ohio. General Brown went along with the essentially civilian group as “special agent of the Territory to watch the Ohio situation” his official title per gubernatorial appointment.

McNair's orders were to arrest or run off enemy Ohioan territorialists found in the area. The group of Ohio surveyors were first approached by McNair and one other. Seeing the armed men, the Ohioans became nervous and reached for their weapons. It was here where the “battle” began (now known as Lyons, Ohio).

Reports of the battle are sketchy yet historians conclude “shots were fired but it was never clear if they were directed at the Ohio group or if they were for effect to flush them out of the cabins in which they were spending their Sabbath.” (Another report claims the surveyors were “resting in a field.”)

One historian states that the surveying group was attacked by “fifty to sixty members of General Brown's militia.” In any event, the incident is now known as the "Battle of Phillips Corners" (sometimes used as a synonym for the entire Toledo War).

While the details of the attack are disputed – Michigan claimed it fired no shots and had only discharged a few musket rounds in the air as the Ohio group retreated – the battle further infuriated both Ohioans and Michiganders and brought the two sides to the brink of all-out war.

Surveyors wrote to Lucas afterward that while observing "the blessings of the Sabbath," Michigan militia forces advised them to retreat. They wrote in the ensuing chase, "nine of our men, who did not leave the ground in time after being fired upon by the enemy, from thirty to fifty shots, were taken prisoners and carried away into Tecumseh (what is now known as Tecumseh, Michigan).” Most of the group escaped.

These prisoners were escorted back to Adrian where all but one were released. Engineer, Colonel Fletcher, was retained to “test the validity of the arrest.” Engineer Colonel Fletcher spent some months in custody in Tecumseh.

Although one person was injured and there was one fatality (a horse belonging to Lewis E. Bailey of Michigan) during the conflict, the Battle of Phillips Corner was not much of a battle by traditional standards. The single military confrontation of the "war" caused no human casualties.

Benjamin Baxter’s account of the events, found in Clara Waldron’s One Hundred Years – A Country Town, states that Fletcher was:

"a genial gentleman not suffering apparently from his term of incarceration, but sometimes subjecting us to the inconvenience of hunting him up when we had occasion to use the jail for some counterfeiter or horse thief, as he was likely to be found out riding with one of the sheriff’s lovely daughters, having taken the jail keys with him."

Throughout mid-1835, both governments continued their practice of “one-upmanship,”and constant skirmishes and arrests occurred. Citizens of Monroe County joined together in a posse to make arrests in Toledo. Partisans from Ohio, angered by the harassment, targeted the offenders with criminal prosecutions. Lawsuits were not only rampant, they served as a basis for retaliatory lawsuits from the opposite side. Partisans from both sides organized spying parties to keep track of the sheriffs of Wood County, Ohio and Monroe County, Michigan who were entrusted with the security of the border.

A "Stickney" Situation

On July 15, 1835, blood was spilled. Monroe County, Michigan, Deputy Sheriff Joseph Wood went into a tavern in Toledo to arrest Major Benjamin Stickney, but when Stickney and his three sons resisted, the whole family was subdued and taken into custody. During the scuffle, Two Stickney, son of the major, stabbed Wood with a pen knife causing a minor wound. Then, Two fled south into Ohio. A large force tried to apprehend him but failed. (Two of Stickney's brothers, “One” and “Three,” were also active in the fight – this is no joke. These are actual names. Imagine if the major had been even more productive.)

Wood's injuries were not life-threatening. Still, a warrant was issued for Two by Monroe County, but it could not be served, since Michigan had no authority in Ohio. When Lucas refused Mason's demand to extradite Two Stickney back to Michigan for trial, Mason wrote to President Jackson for help, suggesting that the matter be referred to the United States Supreme Court. At the time of the conflict it was not established that the Supreme Court could resolve state boundary disputes, and Jackson declined the offer.

Read for yourself an account of the incident as recorded in “Facts and Historical Events of the Toledo War of 1835, As Connected With the First Session of the Court of Common Pleas of Lucas County, Ohio” …

The partizans of Ohio were continually harrassed by the authorities of Michigan for the greater part of the summer of 1835. An attempt was made by the authorities of Ohio to retaliate in kind; but for some reason or other the accused would manage to escape into Michigan proper, or hide at home.

Whenever^the sheriff of Wood county attempted to make an arrest, there would generally be spies watching his coming and communicate the fact to the accused persons in time to hide, or make their escape out of the place. The town was kept in a great uproar much of the time in watching the movements of the Bailiffs of Monroe and Wood counties.

Major Stickney, George McKay, Judge Wilson and many others, of the Ohio partizans, were arrested and taken to the Monroe jail. When Major Stickney was arrested, he fought and resisted the officers valiantly, and was assisted by his whole family, who fought and resisted until they were overpowered by superior numbers.

After the Major was arrested, the officer requested him to get on a horse and ride to Monroe. He refused. The officer, with the assistance of his posse, put him on by force. He would not sit on the horse. Two men, one on each side, held him while a third man walked ahead and led the horse. In this way they got him about half way to Monroe, when the men getting tired of holding him on, took a cord and tied his legs togethet under the horse's body, and in that manner conveyed him the balance of the distance.

This is the account the Major himself gave of his arrest and transportation. The deputy-sheriff of Monroe county, Joseph Wood, attempted to arrest Two Stickney, a son of Maj. Stickney. A severe scuffle ensued. Stickney got a small pen-knife out of his pocket and stabbed Wood in the left side, causing the blood to run pretty freely.

Wood let go his hold and Stickney made his escape into Ohio proper. Wood was carried home by his friends, as was said, in a dying condition, but really, was very little hurt. The grand-jury of Monroe county indicted Stickney for an assault on the sheriff with a dirk-knife.

A warrant was issued on the indictment, but could not be served, in consequence of Stickney fleeing into Ohio and remaining there. Governor Lucas refused to give him up, alleging that the offense, if any, was committed within the limits of Ohio and that the requisition of the Governor of Michigan was without authority of law.

Looking for peace, Governor Lucas began making his own efforts to end the conflict, again through federal intervention via Ohio's congressional delegation

Lucas announced his intentions to hold a court session in Toledo to establish his state’s rights to the land. In response, Michigan Governor Mason gathered 1,200 Wolverine militiamen and marched on the Toledo Strip. The Michiganders were prepared to use violent force to prevent the session from taking place, yet after arriving on September 7, they found they had been outsmarted: the Ohioans had already held a secret midnight court and then fled the area to avoid bloodshed.

President Jackson was fed up with Stevens T. Mason’s militancy and entered the fray. Jackson removed him from his post. And, Michiganders almost immediately voted the “Boy Governor” back into office, but by then tempers had cooled and the two sides had called off their militias. With the threat of civil war averted, Jackson and the federal government looked to settle the land dispute once and for all.

During the summer of 1836, Congress proposed a compromise whereby Michigan gave up its claim to the strip in exchange for its statehood and about three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula. The compromise was considered a poor outcome for Michigan. Voters in a state convention in September soundly rejected the proposal. But in December, the Michigan government, facing a dire financial crisis and pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson, called another convention (called the "Frostbitten Convention") which accepted the compromise that resolved the Toledo War.

Governor Lucas became a national hero for his stand in the war. In Robert Lucas by John C. Parish, the following account attests to his popularity:

Prior to Lucas no Executive of the State had ever held that office for three consecutive terms; nor has anyone since been accorded that honor. Having served with credit for four years (two terms), Robert Lucas determined before the State nominating conventions met that he would not again become a candidate, and so informed his friends.

The Democratic convention again remembered Jackson's victory at New Orleans and convened at Columbus on January 8, 183G. As their candidate for Governor they nominated Eli Baldwin. The Whigs, on the other hand, met on the anniversary of Washington's birthday and put in nomination Joseph Vance.

A meeting of the State Rights Association, however, passed resolutions in April agreeing to cast their vote for Robert Lucas as Governor. This called forth a protest from Lucas against the use of his name as a candidate. It was then explained that the resolutions were passed by the convention largely as a tribute which the Association desired to make to Governor Lucas.”

Although the Toledo War was a skirmish over a relatively small tract of land, it would have drastically altered the future of three states – Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin – and possibly even more of the surrounding area had the outcome been different. Governor Robert Lucas was most instrumental in effecting an outcome most favorable to the Buckeye state.

Was the compromise of the Toledo War a bad deal for Michigan? At the time, the Detroit Free Press dubbed the Upper Peninsula a barren wasteland of “perpetual snows,” but public opinion later shifted after the region was found to contain valuable deposits of copper and iron ore. I guess all's well that ends well.


Evan Andrews. “The Toledo War: When Michigan and Ohio Nearly Came to Blows.” November 21, 2016.

Facts and Historical Events of the Toledo War of 1835, As Connected With the First Session of the Court of Common Pleas of Lucas County, Ohio.;view=fulltext;q1=Ohio+--+Boundaries+--+Michigan. 1869

Galloway, Tod B. (1895). "The Ohio-Michigan Boundary Line Dispute". Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly. 4: 213.

John C. Parish. Edited by Benjamin F. Shambaugh. Robert Lucas. Iowa Biographical Series. 1907.

Sherman, C.E. & Schlesinger, A.M. (1916). Volume 1, Ohio-Michigan Boundary. Final Report, Ohio Cooperative Topographic Survey (Report).

George J. Tanber. “Benjamin Franklin Stickney: His remarkable life and times.” Toledo Blade. December 23, 2000.

Way, Willard V. (1869). Facts and Historical Events of the Toledo War of 1835. Toledo: Daily Commercial Steam Book and Job Printing House.

Wittke, Karl (1895). "The Ohio-Michigan Boundary Dispute Re-examined". Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly.


Here is some edited information about the interesting Benjamin Franklin Stickney of Toledo War fame. It is taken in part from Tanber's article in the Toledo Blade ...

“Benjamin Franklin Stickney was brilliant and a man of numerous talents – Historian. Linguist. Author. Mineralogist. Land speculator. Spy. Postmaster. Justice of the peace. Indian agent.

“He was born around 1773 in Pembroke, N.H. His mother, Ruth Brown Coffin, was a favorite niece of Benjamin Franklin, whom she named her son after. In 1802, at the then-advanced age of 29, Stickney married Mary Stark, daughter of Gen. John Stark, a notable Revolutionary War figure.

“When war with Britain appeared eminent in late 1811, William Eustis, Secretary of War in the Madison administration and a friend of General Stark's, asked Stickney to sneak into Canada and scout the strengths and positions of British and Canadian troops. His report confirmed what Mr. Madison had already assumed: U.S. troops could not mount an invasion of Canada.

“Stickney's success earned him another assignment from Mr. Eustis. In March, 1812, he was named Indian agent at Fort Wayne in the Indiana Territory. In all he knew 20 Native American dialects.

“By the time he arrived in Fort Wayne, Stickney already had fostered a reputation as an odd personality and independent thinker. The eccentric rap came largely from Mr. Stickney's decision to name his sons One and Two.

“His apparent reasoning, according to legend, was that the boys could name themselves when they grew older, but they never did. Stickney had wanted to name his three daughters after states, but his wife forbid it for the first two. He won out after the birth of his last child, born at Fort Wayne in 1817. He called her Indiana.

“By 1815, Stickney's family had joined him in Fort Wayne. At that point, he was at odds with most of his colleagues, who tried to get him removed from office by raising bogus charges against him involving fraud and deceit. He was exonerated at a court hearing and retained his position - but not for long.

“While he had few friends among the whites, Stickney was respected by the area's various Native American tribes, who were impressed with his knowledge of their language and his concern for their well-being.

“Perhaps Stickney's most significant achievement at Fort Wayne had nothing to do with his job. In 1818, in an article published in Western Spy, Mr. Stickney claimed that by flooding a seven-mile low-land prairie between the Wabash and Maumee rivers, it would be possible to sail from the St. Lawrence River through the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico.

“Stickney contacted Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York, who at the time was overseeing construction of the Wabash and Erie Canal. DeWitt wrote Stickney: "I have found a way to get into Lake Erie and you have shown me how to get out of it. You have extended my project 600 miles."

“The Stickneys moved in 1820 to the Maumee Valley, where Benjamin Stickney was named subagent for the Ottawas. He had already become involved in real estate two years earlier when he bought property in Port Lawrence, one of two settlements that now comprise downtown Toledo.

“Stickney's main interest was Governor Clinton's canal project, which he later described as "the great object of my life." It was the canal that also sparked, beginning in 1820, the greatest controversy of Mr. Stickney's life, adding to his eccentric reputation.

“The state of Ohio had been charged with building the canal's Ohio segment. It eventually became clear that the likely terminus would be at north Toledo, which would greatly enhance the value of Mr. Stickney's property.

Stickney asked Port Lawrence residents to change their mind and return to Ohio or lose the canal and all the revenue it would bring. The resulting aye vote ticked off the Michigan territory authorities and launched a squabble that lasted 13 years. The bickering intensified in the mid-1830s as the canal construction neared.

“Meanwhile, Benjamin Stickney worked to solve the border dispute, largely through a lengthy letter-writing campaign. He persuaded the Ohio Legislature to create a new county in the disputed territory - it was named for then-Gov. Robert Lucas - and helped guide the process that resulted in Ohio gaining official jurisdiction over the county. Stickney was present in Washington in 1836 when Congress ruled in favor of Ohio, settling the dispute for good. To appease Michigan authorities, the territory got the Upper Peninsula and statehood the following year.

"Everything that happened was orchestrated by Stickney," says Mr. Dickson. "I think the guy saw the opportunity and went for it. Just like today, that's how wealth was being created, in land speculation."

“Once victory was achieved and the canal terminus was set for Toledo, Stickney began living in Washington. He returned to his Toledo home only in the summer to escape the oppressive heat there. By that time, he had become wealthy from the sale of his now-valuable lands to immigrants the Stickney family helped draw to the area.”

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Bishop Francis and Eva Thomas -- The McConnells

 Francis McConnell

Francis J. McConnell (1871-1953) was an American Methodist bishop, a college president, a social reformer and an author. He was born in Trinway, Ohio. “The Bishop” died in Lucasville on his 82nd birthday, August 18, 1955. He is interred in the local cemetery.

Francis' wife, Mrs. Eva Thomas McConnell (1871-1968), was born in Lucasville on July 23, 1871. She was the daughter of James and Rachel M. Thomas. Eva, along with Genevieve Marsh, were the two members of the first graduating class in Lucasville. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1894. There, she met Francis and they were married in 1897.

Together, Francis and Eva rose to significant leadership of the Methodist Church. Upon their retirement in 1944, they returned to Lucasville to manage their farms on Fairground Road. In 1952, Francis wrote of Eva: “After having known her for nearly sixty years, I have never seen any trait in her in which I would suggest improvement.

Eva was vice -president of The Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church and traveled widely with her husband. She died at Lucasville, Ohio, in her ninety-seventh year.

Francis and Eva's daughter, Dorothy McConnell (1900 - 1989), became an American editor and author. 

Dorothy was born at Ipswich, Massachusetts, on September 18, 1900. She received her B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1920, and an M.A. in 1922 from Columbia University.

Dorothy McConnell was a social worker (1922-1926), and an editor (1926-1932). From 1940 to 1966 she was editor of World Outlook, a periodical of the Board of Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. McConnell served as a member of the Board of Higher Education in Asia, on the executive committee of the World Methodist Council, on the national board of the Y.W.C.A., committee member of the National Council of the Churches in Christ in the U.S.A. and of the World Council of Churches.

The Church and Francis McConnell

The social gospel movement was launched in the late nineteenth century by Congregationalists, Baptists, and Episcopalians, but at the turn of the twentieth century, liberal Methodists converted to it, and quickly became the movement's leading denominational force.

Francis MeConnell was the son of a studious, progressive-leaning Methodist minister father and a studious, intensely devout, strong-willed mother. His father, Israel H. McConnell, diligently studied the sermons of Horace Bushnell, Phillips Brooks, and Jame Martineau, and whenever possible, he traveled to hear Henry Ward Beech. I. H. conducted lengthy revivals but regretted how the American Protestantism was dependent on revivals; his preaching focused on individuality morality and salvation, sometimes with a strong word against racial injustice or demon rum.

Israel's wife, Nancy J. McConnell, was an old-style Wesleyan sanctificationist who spoke of “heart purity” as the Christian ideal.

Francis McConnell was born in 1871 on his maternal grandfather's Ohio farm, shortly before his father was ordained to the ministry. At the age of nine he made his profession of faith with no special urging from his parents. Every Sunday morning after the sermon his father issued a low-keyed altar call. One Sunday young Francis walked forward to the altar rail and shook hands with his father. “That was all there was to it, as far as ceremony was concerned,” he later recalled. “When we returned to the parsonage after the service, both Mother and Father told me they were glad for what I had done.

McConnell grew up in a series of Ohio Methodist parsonages; during his father's seventeen years of ministry the family moved nine times, their longest stint in any parish three years. As a youth, he heard many Civil War veterans tell him war stories. Years later, he was stunned to discover the existence of Northerners who still resented Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.

At the age of seventeen, Francis lost his father at age 43 to appendicitis at a parish in Indiana. Returning to Ohio, Nancy McConnell put thre sons through Ohio Wesleyan University and into the Methodist ministry.

Frank graduated from college in 1894 and enrolled at Boston University the following autumn.

In 1897 not only did Francis McConnell marry Eva Thomas, but also he received his S.T.B. Degree, and was ordained to the ministry. In two years he completed his Ph.D. McConnell gave eight years to parish ministry, pastoring congregations in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Brooklyn, New York. He then accepted the presidency of DePauw University in 1908; however, his books started flowing before he entered academe.

In The Diviner Immanence (1906) McConnell affirmed the modern emphasis on God's nearness. “There is and can be no place for mere stuff in the universe,” he asserted. McConnell reasoned that because space and time are merely forms of the mind's knowing, with no substantial reality in themselves, it followed that “we (humans) are not far from the Creative Mind either in space or in time.”

McConnell believed that good theology is related to science and philosophy and that they are critically determinative for theology. He considered “lower forms of nearness” such as Darwinism. But theology has its own ultimate object in a higher form or nearness, he argued, which is the immanence of soul. 

In the mind of McConnell, spiritual nearness was “the nearness of mutual understanding, of reciprocal interest, of sympathetic cooperation, of shared burden-bearing, of fellow-feeling, and of good comradeship.” He reasoned that scientific and philosophical labor can establish “lower nearness” though the lower nearness “may be gloriously preparatory and introductory to the higher.”

To McConnell, when God energizes His mental creations into reality, there is no reason why these different world systems cannot “jostle and collide with each other.” God, then is able willfully to energize someone like a novelist into actual expression of imagining something as abstract as six different story worlds.

In 1912 the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church elected McConnell, then forty years old, to the episcopacy. Though his ecclesiastical assignment took him further away from Boston – McConnell first assumed responsibility for Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and Mexico – the personalist school gained much from his subsequent writing and public prominence.

McConnell's service in the larger church included the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America and the Methodist Federation of Social Action. He served as a visiting professor at Columbia University, Yale University, Drew Theological Seminary and Garrett Seminary.

McConnell is well-known for this quote:

“We need a type of patriotism that recognizes the virtues of those who are opposed to us. We must get away from the idea that America is to be the leader of the world in everything. She can lead in some things. The old "manifest destiny" idea ought to be modified so that each nation has the manifest destiny to do the best it can - and that without can't, without the assumption of self-righteousness and with a desire to learn to the uttermost from other nations.”


A Flaw in McConnell's Design

Writing about the past and examining the minds of well-intentioned people in those bygone days is fraught with unusual and sometimes perplexing discoveries. Such is the case when reviewing the life of Bishop Francis McConnell. Now, the people of the United Methodist Church apologize for some of his views … views that, unfortunately, support eugenics. How these ideas once gained widespread acceptance in churches and even in the government is shocking. So, with great regret, I report the following for the good of history. If you believe I unjustly discredit the memory of the Bishop in doing so, I hope you will understand the need to report the facts.

Eugenics is defined as the “science” of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.

Eugenics, grounded in the belief that certain “genetic” traits are good and others bad, is associated in the public mind mostly with the extreme eugenics policies of Adolf Hitler, which ultimately led to the Holocaust. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.

Built into the idea of natural selection is a competition between the strong and the weak, between the fit and the unfit. The eugenicists believed that this mechanism was thwarted in the human race by charity, by people and churches who fed the poor and the weak so that they survived, thrived, and reproduced.

Ironically, as the Eugenics Movement came to the United States, the churches, especially the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the Episcopalians, embraced it.

Most of the time, church advocates of eugenics supported “positive eugenics” – essentially careful selection of mates. Nevertheless, sterilization became an acceptable kind of eugenics along with marriage laws limiting marriage between whites and nonwhites. Some annual conferences supported such laws and a few opposed them.

Despite its packaging as “scientific,” and “healthy”, implicit in the movement was the notion that not only were certain individuals unfit to reproduce, whole ethnicities and races were equally unfit. The county fairs of America featured “Better Baby” contests, where African-American and Asian mothers were discouraged or barred from entering. The winners of these contests were invariably Caucasian.

The United States Government implemented “preferred” nations in their immigration screening, making it more difficult for Southern Europeans, African-Americans and Asians to emigrate. Conferences and forums were held to earnestly discuss population breeding and management.

The auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union had links through shared leadership roles. This all seems surreal to the modern reader, who is inclined to categorize these “reformist” groups along different ideological axes, but those beliefs were part of the times. Eugenics providing a “scientific” basis to their racial segregationist bias was too tempting to resist. Many believed some whole groups (those who consumed alcohol) and races (Afro-Americans) were simply unfit to live in America.

In 1907, in an attempt to effect God’s will while resolving major social problems, the State of Indiana passed the first sterilization law in the United States. Other states of the nation were not far behind Indiana in approving sterilization legislation and, while California eventually became the nation’s leader in the campaign to sterilize the unfit, by mid-century some sixty thousand Americans had been deemed unfit or too dangerous to be a part of the nation’s gene pool and had been sterilized.

This all was accomplished with the specific approval of the Supreme Court of the United States which ruled, in a decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. -- Buck v. Bell (1927) -- that states had a legal right to sterilize their citizens.

In the 1910s, Methodist churches hosted forums in their churches to discuss eugenics. In the 1920s, many Methodist preachers submitted their eugenics sermons to contests hosted by the American Eugenics Society. By 1927, when the American Eugenics Society formed its Committee on the Cooperation with Clergymen, Bishop Francis McConnell, president of the Methodist Federation for Social Service, served on the committee. In 1936, he would chair the roundtable discussion on Religion and Eugenics at the American Eugenics Society Meeting.

The laity of the church also took up the cause of eugenics. When the American Eugenics Society offered cash prizes for the best sermons based on eugenics, they inspired about 300 sermons, mostly by liberal Protestants. In 1929, the Methodist Review published the sermon “Eugenics: A Lay Sermon” by George Huntington Donaldson. In the sermon, Donaldson argues, “the strongest and the best are selected for the task of propagating the likeness of God and carrying on his work of improving the race.”

Here is an apology by the United Methodists that is still posted on the site of the People of the United Methodist Church:

“The United Methodist General Conference formally apologizes for Methodist leaders and Methodist bodies who in the past supported eugenics as sound science and sound theology. We lament the ways eugenics was used to justify the sterilization of persons deemed less worthy. We lament that Methodist support of eugenics policies was used to keep persons of different races from marrying and forming legally recognized families. We are especially grieved that the politics of eugenics led to the extermination of millions of people by the Nazi government and continues today as 'ethnic cleansing' around the world. We urge United Methodist annual conferences to educate their members about eugenics and advocate for ethical uses of science.”


Book of Resolutions: Repentance for Support of Eugenics

Gary J. Dorrien. The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism, and Modernity. February 28, 2003.

Guide to the Francis John McConnell Family Papers. Prepared by Peter Cole, Student Assistant; Robert Drew Simpson, Assistant Archivist and Mark C. Shenise, Associate Archivist United Methodist Archives and History Center.

General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church. (Published for the Drew University Methodist Library). December 18, 2001.

Lucasville Ohio Sesquicentennial 1819-1969. Local Publication. 1969.