EATON — Record crowds turned out this past weekend for the Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration at the Preble County Historical Society. The annual celebration was held on Sunday, July 2 and kicked off with music from the Eaton Community Band and Chorus — but the festival went all night and ended with fireworks.
It was $5 per car to get into the event, with all proceeds benefiting the PCHS.
The event started with music by the Eaton Community Band and the Eaton Community Chorus. The Cincinnati Circus trapeze and strolling magicians returned to entertain children. There were also exhibits, children’s games, face painting, bounce houses, and food and merchandise vendors. The 2017 Hall of Honor induction was held at 6:30 p.m., followed by music by Flat Out and fireworks when it got dark.
The Hall of Honor was named the Sara Swartsel Hall of Honor back in 2011, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. This was in recognition of the heritage and philanthropy of the Swartsel family. The Register-Herald joined the PCHS as co-sponsors.
This year, the Hall of Honor inducted its seventh membership class. Criteria states that the inductee must be deceased and have lived in Preble County at some point in their lives. They must also meet one 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.
For this year, there were three individuals inducted into the Hall of Honor. During her speech, Preble County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Leslie Collins said, “One thing that I think deserves to be pointed out today, is that every member that we are inducting today was someway connected to or served in the armed forces. They really do all need a great big round of applause for that.”
The first recognized was Colonel Charles M. Hendricks, M.D. He lived from 1877-1953. Hendricks was born and raised in Preble County, but he went off to Miami University to play football. He pursued a medical degree at the University of Cincinnati. During his medical career, he devoted his life to the study and treatment of respiratory diseased, spurred by the death of his younger brother and best friend Arthur to pneumonia. When he graduated, he received an internship at the National Jewish Hospital for Tuberculosis.
Shortly before leaving Eaton for Denver, Hendricks married Edith Duguid. He set up his practice in El Paso, Texas and became the director of the Albert Baldwin Sanatorium.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Medical Corp in 1917, with World War I on the horizon. He was assigned to the 90th Infantry Division for Texas and Oklahoma. He served as Captain and Chief Medical Officer. It was during his military service where he made some of his most significant contributions to the health and well-being of the American Solider.
After the War, Hendricks returned to Eaton. He became owner and operator of medical facility The Hendricks Sanatorium. He continued to service in the Army Reserve and was promoted to full Colonel. He even put forth the idea that blood type should be included on the Dog Tags worn by millions of service personnel.
In 1953, the Sun Bowl Association created the Dr. C. M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player Award in his honor. Hendricks and his wife are buried in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
The second gentleman honored was Clarence Irvin Kesler, who lived from 1882-1975. He was presented the Navy Cross by the President of the United States for distinguished service in the line of his profession as a member of the crew of the Seaplane NC-1 which made a long overseas flight from Newfoundland to the vicinity of the Azores in May, 1919.
Kesler also received the Order of the Tower and Sword medallion from the King of Portugal along with all the crew members of the first transatlantic flight.
He received other recognition for his involvement in the Navy’s testing the feasibility of using a plane to launch torpedoes against ships while he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron One. He was given recognition for saving the trapped pilot of a plane that went down during one of the test flights over the Chesapeake Day.
He entered the Navy in 1905 and the Navy aviation branch in 1913. Prior to the Nancy flight he was enrolled in a post-graduate aeronautics course at Harvard University.
He married Orpha Mae Kimbrough on Nov. 28, 1923 while in the USN Air Service in Washington DC. He retired from the Navy in 1924 with the rank of Chief Aviation Pilot Navy Number 21. He was a chicken rancher near Osteen, Florida where he owned and operated the Olustee Big Store. He joined the Pan American Airways System in December 1928.
Present for his induction were his son Edwin Kesler, his grandson Phillip L. Kesler, his great-grandson Charles L. Kesler, and his granddaughter Shirley M. Kesler.
The last individual inducted was James Edward Quinn, who lived from 1920-1997. He was a descendant of one of the earliest settlers of Preble County. His ancestors arrived in Ohio in 1805 and moved to what is now Preble County in 1807. The family has been here ever since.
The first Quinn family built a house on what is now Quinn Road, which was named after their family.
Quinn was a charter member of the PCHS where he volunteered as a member of the board of trustees. He donated many items of historical significance to the Society, among these are a textile quilt, various birth and christening certificates, several rifles, clothing, books, pencil drawing of Arthur St. Clair, paintings by Elizabeth Mulhoffer and Laura Hunt, doll’s furniture, 1892 typewriter, and many other items.
He served as the representative of the Village of West Alexandria on the Republican Central Committee for 15 years. He and his wife Phyllis co-chaired the West Alexandria celebration of the United States Bicentennial in 1976. He was a West Alexandria Village Council member. He also worked as a school bus driver. He was a member of the Salem Lutheran Church where he sang in the church choir, the Rod & Gun Club, American Legion Post 322, and the West Alexandria Lions Club.
He was also a member of the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm.
Professionally, he worked as a construction inspector for the Ohio Department of Transportation for 22 years. He also worked at the water treatment plants in Eaton and West Alexandria, and at Screw Products, now known as Parker Hannifin. He owned and operated several businesses in West Alexandria. He also worked as a salesman at an auto dealership.
Quinn served his country in the National Guard from Eaton for five years and in the Army 147th Infantry 3rd Battalion during World War II. He was Platoon Sergeant, combat infantry, and carbine sharpshooter. He received two bronze starts, a good conduct medal, and the American Defense Service Medal.
He is survived by his son Robert Allen Quinn, his stepdaughter Susan Rae Fieder Carico, three grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Anyone is welcome to submit a nomination for the Hall of Honor, as long as the potential inductee meets the previously mentioned criteria.
The deadline for submissions for next year is April 1, 2018. You can make a nomination to the Hall of Honor by visiting the PCHS’s web site at www.preblecountyhistoricalsociety.com and downloading an application. You may also email the Society at email@example.com or call at 937-787-4256.
At the end of the Hall of Honor ceremony, PCHS Vice-President Brian Smith said, “Let’s give a shout out to our sponsors. Without them, we couldn’t do what we do out here. We definitely wouldn’t be having events like this. They are a big part of everything.
“Also, look around, each one of you paid to get in today. Those funds go to help keep us going. I think you all deserve a round of applause to help us. The fireworks are cool, the bands are awesome, but at the end of the day this is a fundraiser for us and a recognition for the families of these folks here.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter at KKimbler_RH