Hall of Honor nominees sought

R-H Staff

PREBLE COUNTY — In celebration of its 40th anniversary in 2011, the Preble County Historical Society (PCHS) created a Hall of Honor. The PCHS Board of Trustees designated that the Hall of Honor be named the Sara Swartsel Hall of Honor in recognition of the heritage and philanthropy of the Swartsel Family as demonstrated by Sara’s enduring gift to the Preble County Historical Society and the Preble County community of her family farm in southeast Preble County.

The Register Herald joined the PCHS as co-sponsor of the Hall of Honor in recognition of the natural partnership of the two organizations in recording the history of Preble County every day. This annual process provides each entity with many opportunities to collaborate publicly on the project in ways that promote the value of each entity to the residents and businesses of the county.

In 2016 the Hall of Honor will induct its sixth membership class. Inductees must be deceased and have lived in Preble County at some point in their lives; further, they must meet one or more of the following requirements: have been outstanding in achievement in agriculture, arts, professions, politics, public service, education, or sports; or have a reputation that brings honor to the county, or personal commitment and service to the county; or had a lasting impact on the county.

The group will honor the 2016 inductees and their families with the dedication of plaques in their honor at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, at the Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration at the Preble County Historical Center and The Amphitheater.

You can make a nomination to the Hall of Honor by visiting the Preble County Historical Society’s web site at www.preblecountyhistoricalsociety.com and downloading an application to complete and submit. You also may email the Society at [email protected] or call the Society at 937-787-4256 and leave a message requesting a nomination form.

The deadline for submission for consideration for 2016 is APRIL 1, 2016.

2015 Inductees

William Bruce


On Feb. 20, 1806, William Bruce filed the plat plan for Eaton. He provided land for the courthouse and other public buildings, churches and schools. He established a sawmill, a gristmill, and other businesses, served as the first treasurer of the county, and received the universal and unqualified respect of county residents.

Cornelius Van Ausdal


The pioneer merchant of Eaton and Lewisburg, Van Ausdal created wholesale and retail commerce of all kinds. He served on the local railroad board, insured completion of the Christian Church building, was a Deputy U. S. Marshall (taking the first census in the county), served as a state legislator, and owned the Western Telegraph weekly newspaper.

Sarah Elizabeth Daughtery Reynolds


Reynolds was prominent in patriotic affairs and helped originate the custom of casting flowers on streams on Memorial Day. She loved history and archeology and her advocacy led to the designation of Fort St. Clair Park in Eaton. She presented Preble County women’s buckeye bole cabinet at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

Chester (Chet) and Mary Palmer Wagner

1908-1970 and 1913-1985

The Wagners opened the Whispering Oaks Restaurant in 1947 and that led to the founding of Henny Penny to manufacture high quality cooking equipment. Active in Rotary, church, Shrine, and politics, Chet also established a forestry scholarship and award. When widowed, Mary guided the business and insured a successful transition upon its sale in 1976.

Timothy H. Miller


Tim was a man for the county. He was involved in everything from news reporting to politics to the Pork Festival to photography to the 911 system and more. He led the Chamber of Commerce, served as a Special Deputy Sheriff, worked on the restoration of the Roberts Double-Barrel Bridge, and helped found the Friends of the Library and the Eaton Camera Club.

Rosetta “Rosie” McNees


Rosie was a founder of the Preble County Art Association and a driving force in fundraising for the Fine Arts Center dedicated in 1990. She was a well-known and prolific artist specializing in watercolor, pastels, and oils. Her legacy includes over 25 pen and ink drawings of structures in the county and her efforts to preserve historic downtown Eaton.

2014 Inductees

Silas Dooley, Sr. 1786-1877

Silas Dooley, Sr. was the first recorded settler in Gasper Township. He cleared his land and helped clear the land where the Village of Camden is now located. Dooley was a tireless worker and man of great economy and self-denial. His marriage to Johanna Westerfield was the first one licensed in Preble County. Their 1830’s timber and frame home remains today as a centerpiece of the original homestead which has been in continuous operation by seven generations of descendants for over 200 years.

Dorothy Kiracofe 1926-2005

Dorothy Aukerman Kiracofe fine-tuned her culinary skills at Mrs. Wagner’s Kitchen and took them to the Preble County Pork Festival where she served on the board for over 25 years and won many Grand Championships for her baking.

She was a Grange Deputy for over 50 years, 4-H leader for over 25 years, and volunteer with the Eaton High School Band, the public library, and special needs children and programs serving them.

Alfred Horatio Upham, Ph. D. 1877-1945

Alfred H. Upham was born and raised in Eaton where he excelled in school and then enrolled in Miami University. He graduated from Miami with many honors and completed graduate studies at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He held faculty and leadership positions at universities in Utah, Massachusetts, and Idaho before becoming Miami’s president in 1928, serving until 1945, the longest in the university’s history. He composed Miami’s Alma Mater and was honored by the naming of Upham Hall.

Martha A. Rizert Dye 1930-1999

Martha A. Ritzert was orphaned in 1938 and then cared for by relatives. She was a trained educator and became an accomplished classical pianist. Music was a great joy and solace to be shared, and the Eaton Area Arts Council was founded to benefit countless children and residents. Besides her work with the Children’s Home’s renovation and services, she worked as a juvenile counselor and probation officer for adolescent girls. As a principal founder of the Preble County Historical Society, her vision led to the creation of the outdoor amphitheater at PCHS.

Jo Ann Lange and William E. Lange

1927-2010 and 1925-2012

Service to others, to her church, and to her community was a central part of Jo Ann Lange’s life. She served the Delta Theta Tau Sorority, a philanthropic sorority; operated the Pork Festival Short Order Haus with her husband for 35 years; worked as a poll worker and judge for the Board of Elections; was active in Preble County 4-H, as a band parent and FHA Mother at Twin Valley South, as a Preble County Farm Bureau member and leader for over 30 years; as secretary of her church, and as board member and volunteer at the Preble Count Historical Society.

William E. Lange, Jr., enjoyed farming and helping others. He and his father operated a seed cleaning business under the name William E. Lange and Son Certified Seed and Sales. Bill’s farm was only one of a handful in Preble County to be recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture as a “Century Farm,” operated by the same family for more than 100 years. Bill served his church as treasurer, his township as clerk, his community as board member of the Preble County Soil and Water Conservation and chair of the Farm Bureau, his school as officer of the alumni association, and his political party as central committee member and volunteer.

2013 Inductees

Cyrena Van Gordon


Her life began in Camden where she sang in cantatas at the First Presbyterian Church and graduated from high school. Her voice and stage presence took her throughout the United States and abroad, and she rose to be prima donna of the Chicago Opera Company and the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York City over a 27-year career. She returned to her Ohio home to dedicate the Preble County Court House in 1918 and on many other celebratory occasions.

Ione Sell Hiestand


Self-titled “professional volunteer,” Hiestand dedicated herself to serving the community including founding and leading the Friends of the Eaton Library, authoring and editing numerous publications of the Preble County Historical Society including the 700-page 1992 history entitled Preble County, Ohio, initiating and promoting the arts including music performances and graphics arts at the Preble County Art Association, and writing about and enhancing the architecture of downtown Eaton.

Lucile Petry Leone


Born near “Frog Heaven School” in Monroe Township, Leone’s nursing educator career led her to the US Public Health Service during World War II where she created the Cadet Nurse Corps Program and rose to the rank of Assistant Surgeon General and Chief Nurse Officer, a rank equivalent to Admiral. Her philosophy was that nurses nurse the whole patient. She received distinguished service awards and honorary degrees from organizations across the country for her service to nurse education.

Marian M. Mitchell & James W. Mitchell

1920-2010 and 1916-2012

Together the Mitchells helped found the Preble County Historical Society and the Preble County Pork Festival and served the Eaton Presbyterian Church. Marian led the District Library Board, the Girl Scouts, and planted thousands of daffodils and blue bells at Fort St. Clair Park. Jim nurtured an acorn from the Whispering Oak into a seedling and was instrumental in saving and moving both the Lewisburg Log House to PCHS and the Roberts Covered Bridge to Eaton.

2012 Inductees

Nathaniel Benjamin


Carpenter, joiner, builder, businessman, Benjamin constructed many buildings in Preble County, planted an orchard, established a nursery, and kept a tavern/public house in New Lexington. He supervised highway construction when West Alexandria was a wilderness, served in public office for over 20 years, and was a dedicated Mason. His generous contributions established an orphanage and a public school library.

Harvey Hiestand


Architect, artist, and musician, Hiestand graduated from Eaton High School, traveled the world, and returned to practice architecture in Eaton. He established Miami University’s first architecture courses and designed substantial public and business buildings throughout the Midwest as well as many homes in Eaton. Hiestand Hall at Miami University is named in his honor and houses many of his artworks.

Thomas McQuiston


McQuiston received patents for a corn cultivator and a sorghum evaporator. A lifelong farmer in Israel Township, McQuiston operated a sorghum mill from 1862-1903, farmed as had the three preceding generations and three succeeding generations of his family, and served in the 156th Regiment of the O.V.I. in the Civil War. He was a long-time trustee of Hopewell Presbyterian Church.

Clarence Oldfather Harold Sell

1913-2000 and 1911-2003

“Sparky” Oldfather and Harold Sell bought the local newspaper, The Register-Herald, in 1947 and built it into the state’s second largest weekly. They were honored as “Publishers Emeritus” upon their sale of the paper in 1973. Both had careers dedicated to publishing including Oldfather’s early work at Eaton’s “Bulletin” and Sell’s work at the “New Paris Mirror” and his founding of the “Eldorado Weekly.”

Richard Tuggle


Community leader in business, church, and volunteer organizations, Tuggle was a charter member and board president of the PCHS. He served as manager of the Eaton Farm Bureau and established the St. Clair Custodial Supply Company (now Remagen, Inc.), a family-owned business. He served as a township trustee, a church elder, and president of the Eaton Rotary Club.

2011 Inductees

Helen J. Felton and M. Heber Felton

1918-2011 and 1912-2001

Helen and M. Heber Felton, each individually through many different organizations, and together through their mutual love and support, lived in the county for a total of 180 years. Heber as CEO and President of Eaton Home Loan and Home Aid Company and Helen as an educator, both enjoyed history and were proud of their heritage.

Andrew L. Harris


Civil War hero as Colonel with the 75th OVI, public servant at local, state, and national levels, serving Ohio as Judge, State Representative, State Senator, Lt. Governor, Governor, and chairman of the United States Industrial Commission under President McKinley, Harris was a “Farmer-Statesman.” A graduate of Miami University, he loved in Preble County for 77 years.

Seth S. Schlotterbeck


As County Highway Department Superintendent 1937-1966, Schlotterbeck was instrumental in preserving our covered bridges, historic steel truss bridges, and the Lewisburg Log House. His detailed photography and recording of historical details have provided records that otherwise would have been lost. A World War I veteran, Schlotterbeck spent his entire life of 87 years in and documenting Preble County.

Sara Swartsel


The Hall of Honor is named in honor of Sara Swartsel, county native, educator, artist, and environmentalist, who donated her family farm to the Preble County Historical Society with four objectives: beautify the grounds through plantings and horticultural activities; encourage and provide space and facilities for activities of cultural and educational nature, environmental studies, musicals, lectures, and the arts; conduct farming operations and demonstrate agricultural activities of the past and present; and generally encourage the widest possible use of these objectives and purposes to cooperate with schools and groups in bringing children to the center and to promote and encourage its use.

R-H Staff