Class of '48
It is “guest” class letter time and I am pleased to enclose Dick Melton’s (formerly Johnson) interesting historical saga about his state, his town and the street where he lives that he graciously shares with our class of 1948. Plop in a cozy chair and enjoy.
To: The members of the Class of 1948
From: Dick Melton, Glendale, Ohio
Lorrie Johnson Leaf called last fall and asked that I write a piece for her spring newsletter. I am retired (like all of you, I assume), so there isn’t much exciting here for me to write about. On the assumption that most of you have never lived in Ohio, I decided to write a little about the southwest corner of the state―and “the street where I live” (if I can borrow a line from My Fair Lady). The street is a bit historic because of something that happened here during the Civil War, the “Great Raid.”
A note on the street: It’s called Sharon Road. It runs east and west through four of Cincinnati’s northern suburbs. It probably dates to the 1800 to 1810 period. We’re about 15 miles north of the Ohio River.
What happened here is best understood in context, so let me set the stage. Following the Revolutionary War, England ceded to the United States all the land east of the Mississippi River. In 1787 the land north and west of the Ohio River was designated the Northwest Territory, and the land was put up for sale (usually about $1.25 an acre, I understand). In 1788 the first group of 26 settlers arrived in this area, coming by flatboat. Ayear later a fort was built, and the territorial governor arrived. Shortly there was a flood of settlers. In 1803 Ohio became a state, and by 1830 all the government land had been sold.
About 1850 plans were made for a railroad to run from Cincinnati to Hamilton (about 15 miles north of here), and on to Dayton (about 35 miles north of here). When the railroad intersected Sharon Road, a camp was set up to house the railroad workers. Some entrepreneurs bought 600 acres of land nearby, and began to plat subdivisions and sell lots. A couple of houses were built in 1852, the house next to ours in 1853, and ours in 1859.
1861 brought the Civil War, and in 1863 General Grant’s mission was to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi and thereby open the Mississippi to the Navy and to commercial shipping. Having failed in three earlier attempts to invest Vicksburg, Grant took 35,000 men south through the Louisiana bayous, building bridges and laying corduroy roads as he went. Also, he made two attempts to divert the attention of the Confederate commander. Sherman was ordered to make a feint north, up the Yazoo River, and several cavalry commanders were ordered to head south out of Tennesse into Mississippi. The most famous and most successful of these raids was headed by a Colonel Greirson, who destroyed the railroad yards, supplying Vicksburg, as well as the railroad yards, buildings, locomotives and cars that made up the means of shipping. Grierson then decided to head south, and he managed with hard riding to evade the pursuing Confederate cavalry and ride into the Union camp at Baton Rouge, LA.
The North was electrified by the news of the raid, and the news made its way through the Confederacy as well. One Confederate cavalryman, John Hunt Morgan, went to his commanding officer, General Bragg, and asked permission to make a raid northward, through Kentucky, and on into southern Indiana and southern Ohio. Bragg realized that this would draw off federal cavlary, at a time when he was planning a retreat, so he gave his permission. However, he gave very explicit orders to Morgan that he not cross the Ohio River.
Morgan never intended to follow those orders; he immediately sent out scouts to both Indiana and Ohio to get information regarding towns, rivers, bridges―and the extent of pro-southern sentiment.
Morgan took about 2500 cavalrymen, and when he reached the Ohio, he commandeered two steamboats and crossed over into Indiana. Panic spread throughout the state. Militias were formed in all the southern Indiana towns, and 13 regiments were formed to protect the capital, Indianapolis. In one day the governor sent three wires to Cincinnat demanding federal troops to help in the defense of the city.
Morgan zig-zagged his way through southern Indiana. The militias mostly ran for the woods when they saw what they were up against. The women were not molested, but any man carrying a gun or not following orders was immediately shot. About 400 farmhouses, barns, mills and stores were burned. All usable horses were taken, and all bridges were burned after the raiders had crossed. It was known that Union cavalry were not too far behind.
Then they got to the Ohio line and crossed over. They pillaged the first town they got to, and then Morgan ordered them into their saddles, for a 36 hour ride. Rather than go east to Cincinnati, or north-northeast to Hamilton, he took a midway route, ending up on Sharon Road.
So at 3:00 in the morning on July 14 the residents of Glendale awoke to the sound of thousands of hoofbeats. The raiders broke into the homes stealing food and valuables and of course they took all the horses they could find. I feel sure they were in our house; the house is right on main street. I’ve often wondered about the DeCamp family living here. Did they all run out the back door and attempt to hide in the woods? Or did Mr. DeCamp go to the front door and let the raiders in? And did Mrs. DeCamp and the children run to the attic? Or did they all cower in one of the bedrooms? There is no known record, so I suppose I’ll never know. We do know that the oldest daughter, Emma, became engaged here March 9, 1865; she used her diamond to etch the fact on a pane of one of the dining room windows.
No one was killed or injured here in Glendale. Morgan had expected to encounter Union troops here, but there were none. By coincidence, a train-load ot troops had passed through Glendale half an hour before Morgan arrived. They had been sent from Cincinnati to aid in the defense of Hamilton.
The following morning two Confederate soldiers were found asleep in a barn-carriage house one block south of our house. Knowing that the pursuing Union cavalry would soon be passing through Glendale, the residents allowed the young men to continue hiding in the barn until the coast was clear. When the Union cavalry came through, the general in charge is reported to have stopped for tea with the girls who were attending the Glendale Female Academy which was across the street from our house at that time.
I’ll stop here; the Glendale part is over. Morgan’s raid continued for another 400 to 500 miles. He was finally captured up near Cleveland. He, and the other captives were imprisoned in Columbus, but he escaped and rode a train to Cincinnati. He paid a boy 50 cents to row him across the river; once in Kentucky it was easy to rejoin the Confederate forces. A year later he was killed by Union troops in Tennessee.
If you have made it this far without falling asleep, you must be considered a cognitively intact member of the class of ’48. Best regards to all of you. ~Dick Melton
Thank you very much Dick. Little did we think some 58+ years ago that we would be corresponding with our Gustie classmates in the far distant future like this! Dick added a P.S. saying the John Wayne movie, “Horse Soldiers,”popular some 20-30 years ago, was based on the Greirson raid. There are also books available on the “Great Raid” and I am sure Dick could give you titles of the best if you contact him. Address: 140 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, OH 45246-4544. Phone: 513-771-3505. This is the second time Dick has been a guest writer―the first, a duo volunteer in 2001, with his friend, Howard Krave of Minneapolis.
Harold “Monk” Mattke and wife, Bernice, celebrated 58 years of marriage October 9, 2006. Congratulations! What a nice trip you had together in California in September. Monk and Bernice are volunteers at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis In the fall of 2006, Harold completed requirements to graduate from Citizens Police Academy in St. Louis Park. They enjoyed the Andre Rieu concert in St. Paul last October.
Geneva Nygren Anderson, Colorado Springs, CO attended her granddaughter’s wedding in Boulder, CO in September.
Vern Marquardt, L’Anse, MI is busy in the Masons and Shriner organizations. He mentioned Marvin Oberg ’50 and Winton Olson of Willmar were college roommates of his.
Elwin “Ike” Eichhorst, Greeley, CO is retired, but still goes in and loves repairing horns. He has a brother in Minnesota so visits here occasionally.
I have two corrections to make in my last letter―
J. Lyman Hall’s book is entitled: A Native Tarheel’s Journey. It includes stories of WWII and Korea.
Dan Palm is divorced and living in Northfield, MN. He has a daughter living nearby and a grandson studying journalism in Mankato.
Are you looking for a dentist, doctor or other professional? Make it a Gustie! Go to the Gustie Pages at the alumni website at: <gustavus.edu/alumni>.
Let’s help recruit outstanding high school students for Gustavus. Send their names to the Office of Admission at Gustavus. To send a name, visit “Refer a Gustie.” I hit the jackpot when a walking friend’s granddaughter enrolled in January!
Snowbirds might like to attend alumni events in Arizona:
- Tucson Gustie Gathering – March 16
- Phoenix Gustie Gathering – March 17
- Sun City Gustie Gathering – March 18
Howard Krave, maybe your visit to Green Valley would coincide with the Tucson date! If you live in that area more details will be forthcoming. If you will be vacationing there at that time call the Alumni Office and get the details: 800-487-8437!
It is not too early nor too late to send your gift to the Alumni Fund. Get on board before you forget! The need is so great and what better legacy can we leave.
Del and I are leaving for Panama February 20-March 1 with our Osher Life Long Learning group. I was surprised and delighted to meet two Gusties at our pre-trip meeting. The tour company’s leader graduated two years ago with our grandson, Andrew Leaf ’05, and one fellow tripper from Buffalo, MN will be going.
Take care―stay healthy―keep warm or cool, depending―and be as generous as you can.
Lorrie Johnson Leaf
1948 Class Agent