From the Past


A brief history moment…

In 1913, the Ernst family relocated from Moscow, Ohio to Eaton and brought the family business with them. Charles Ernst began the Ernst Nursery in Moscow, Ohio in 1870, by the time it moved to Eaton it had already become one of the area’s most successful nurseries. The nursery would eventually begin operations in both Eaton, Ohio, and Muncie, In.

John J. Ernst and his brothers William and Charles purchased a property on East St. Clair Street, the building formerly used by the Ohio Iron and Brass Bed Factory. The brothers would operate the Ernst Nursery from that location beginning in 1914 until the 1950s. The company cultivated 120 acres and due to its high volume of mail orders, it caused the post office to move from third to first class status.

Devol Ernst, the son of John J. Ernst, showed signs of being a great landscape architect early on, thus making his father proud. Devol went on to attend the University of Illinois for three years and then after a year at Ohio State University, he graduated with high honors. Devols younger brother, John E. ‘Ted’ Ernst, assisted with work at the nursery but he chose another route. The younger Ernst attended Miami Jacobs and Ohio State University, along with supplemental classes from the University of Chicago. John E. ‘Ted’ Ernst would receive a law degree and serve as Judge of the Preble County Common Pleas Court from 1973-1984.

Ernst Nursery was nationally known for its fruit and ornamental trees, evergreens, shrubs, and vines. Each year customers would anticipate the new catalogs and for many they were coveted as much as the family photo album. Eventually, a Feed and Supply store was added to the business, but a neighboring fire would destroy the building in the 1950s, leaving only the greenhouse for the nursery remaining.

In addition to the many other attractions Eaton offered at the time, Ernst Nursery became quite the draw. The fields in Eaton were very attractive from the long rows of peonies at the height of bloom. It was well known From Dayton to Cincinnati and miles around, if you had a plant question, Ernst Nursery was the place to be.

In 1973 the property was taken over by Ken and Jane Davey until 2010 as the Eaton Greenhouse. It is now owned by Vernon Denlinger as Crystal Creek Gardens.

25 years ago…

Wednesday, Aug. 26, 1998

The National Trail Local School District Board of Education recently began action on dispensing of the old elementary school and middle school properties and set a date for the dedication of the new building.

According to Superintendent James Williams, Dave Kessler of Kessler Auctioneers believes the buildings “would go” in an auction. Therefore, the district has agreed to two auctions.

Williams notes his appreciation of Bob Davis, National Trail maintenance director, who, along with his crew and six students moved everything from the old building to the new. They saved money on the move with donations of boxes from Lewisburg Container and the use of the National Trail Band Bus as a Moving Truck.

50 years ago…

Wednesday, Aug. 22, 1973

“Out of order” is the order of the day for the elevator in the Preble County Courthouse at Eaton.

In recent weeks, the lift has been inoperative more than it has operated properly.

The elevator travels between the basement and the fourth floor, and the inability to keep it working inconveniences both courthouse employees and the public who are forced to use stairs.

Handling prisoners is difficult for the Sheriff’s Department as the jail is on the fourth floor and the office is in the basement.

75 years ago…

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 1948

Four Preble County youths had their first “taste” of the major baseball league system last Thursday when they attended the Cincinnati Reds Baseball School, held at Crosley Field. The quartette, Gene Neff, Lloyd Sharp, Eddie Copp, and Don Stevenson were picked from the turnout of Preble County boys at Recreation Park last Wednesday for the Reds Clinic, here.

At that time Red coaches, Ralph Boyle and Angus King gave out pointers to the future big leaguers.

100 years ago…

Wednesday, Aug. 23 1923

Rain and threatening weather were responsible for the falling off in attendance at the county picnic held last Thursday at the fairgrounds. It is estimated that 1200 were in attendance on the grounds when the picnickers were most numerous. Compared with the attendance from other years, the attendance should have been 2500 persons.

A ball game between two teams identified as the Farmers and the Business Men was played resulting in the former team winning. Horseshoe pitching, races, and music by the West Alexandria band comprised some of the items of the program for the day.

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