Clinton County History Center Building 149 E Locust Street PO Box 529 Wilmington, Ohio 45177

The Mission of the Historical Society

The Mission of the Clinton County Historical Society is to encourage community involvement in the preservation, education, and promotion of Clinton County history and genealogy for the benefit of all people for present and future generations. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the Society was chartered in 1948 and is governed by a Board of Trustees.

Historical Society Trustees

Jennifer Hollon, President
A life-long resident of Clinton County, Jennifer is a graduate of Wilmington College, and a former Elementary art teacher in the Wilmington School District.  Her community commitment extends beyond the Board of the Clinton County Historical Society; she also serves on the boards of the Wilmington Schools Foundation, the Murphy Theatre, and The Health Alliance of Clinton County.
Harry Brumbaugh, Vice President

A graduate of Blanchester High School, Harry received his Bachelor Degree from Morehead State University and his Masters in Education from Xavier University.  He taught social studies at Blanchester for 30 years, served as a member of Village Council for 6 years, and served as Mayor of Blanchester for 8 years. Harry and his wife Judy have two daughters.

Robert K. Schaad, Treasurer

A graduate of Wilmington College, Robert Schaad is a Vice President for Wilmington Savings Bank. He serves as a board member and treasurer of the Clinton County Historical Society.  Schaad is involved in many other community organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Leadership Clinton.

Patricia Herron, Secretary

Patti Herron is a shareholder in the firm of Wagenseller, Foley, Hollingsworth & Co., Certified Public Accounts.  Since 1984, she has been actively engaged in providing accounting, tax, management advisory services and financial and estate planning to a wide variety of closely held companies and individuals.  Patti has a practice emphasis in agri-business accounting and farm tax planning and advisory services.

Patrick Haley, Trustee

Born in Port William, Pat graduated from Wilmington High School and attended Wright State University. He is a Clinton County Commission and served two-terms as Clinton County Sheriff. Pat is a contributing columnist for the Wilmington News Journal.

Stan Hannah, Trustee

Stan is a retired construction executive, living in Greene Township with his wife Georgialia.  When he isn’t attending History Center board meetings, you can find Stan golfing, flying, traveling or visiting his six grandchildren.

Lauren Raizk, Trustee

Lauren is a lifelong resident of Wilmington. She graduated from Wilmington High School, Wilmington College, and Capital University Law School. She is a partner at the law firm of Buckley, Miller, and Wright. Lauren also serves on the boards of the Clinton County Foundation, the Free Clinic of Clinton County, the Clinton County Bar Association, and Law Library Board.

Suzanne Madison, Trustee

Suzanne is a descendant of the Sewell and Harvey families of Clinton County.  She is a member and past president of the Clinton County Genealogical Society and member and treasurer of George Clinton Chapter DAR. A graduate of Ohio State University, she has had a career in education, corporate advertising, and market research. Her volunteer experience includes Treasurer, Junior League of Chicago, American Cancer Society Fund Raising Chair in Huntington Harbour, California and Neptune Beach, Florida.

Judge John William "Tim" Rudduck, Trustee

Tim was raised in Clinton County and received a juris doctorate from the Ohio State University’s Law School.  Tim has been a judge since 1985, originally serving for fifteen years as the Clinton County Municipal Court Judge.  Since 2001 he has served on the bench of the Clinton County Common Pleas Court.

Taylor Stuckert, Trustee

Taylor is a descendant of a long line of Quakers of the Hadley-Bevan and Moore families and is an 8th generation Clinton Countian. He is a graduate of Wilmington High School, Butler University and holds a Master Degree Planning from the University of Cincinnati-College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP). He serves as the Executive Director for the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission. Locally, he serves on the board of Energize Clinton County (ECC), Main Street Wilmington, and the Clinton County Trails Coalition.

Richard Tedrick, Trustee

A Blanchester native, Richard has resided in Clinton County most of his life.  He and his wife, Carol, live on a farm that has been in the family since the 1800s. He is certified shooting instructor and a volunteer adviser for Clinton County On-Target 4-H Club.  Other interests include travel, reading and archeology, specifically that of Ohio and Clinton County.

Portrait Kay Fisher Director/Curator

Kay Fisher

Director/Curator

Kay has been the director/curator for the Clinton County Historical Society since 1997. She serves on the board of Community Care Hospice and is a past board member of the Local History Alliance and the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kay has her master of science in Business Administration.

portrait Bev Beireis Collections Manager

Bev Beireis

Collections Manager

A New Vienna native, Bev has resided in Clinton County most of her life. She is a graduate of East Clinton High School and attended Cincinnati Christian University. Bev worked in the banking industry for over 30 years and is a current member of the Wilmington Lions Club, serving as the editor of their bi-monthly newsletter. Bev and her husband John currently live in the Wilmington area.

About the Museum at Rombach Place

Housed in an 1835 Greek Revival residence, Clinton County History Center has a touring museum.  The home was purchased by Matthew Rombach (General Denver’s father-in-law) in 1855, and is also referred to as Rombach Place Museum.  The museum features rotating exhibits that highlight different artifacts and textiles in the collection.  Exhibits also include the largest collection of Eli Harvey, internationally known Quaker artist, paintings and sculpture; Carl Moon photographs; artifacts of General Denver’s military and political career; medical and dental instruments; children’s toys; prehistoric Indian relics and more.   For the researcher:  There is an extensive collection of textiles and Quaker artifacts available for scholarly research.  The Clinton County History Center is handicapped accessible.  

Winged Woman bronze sculpture at the Clinton County History Center
Clinton County History Center museum interior

Membership and Giving Opportunities

The Clinton County Historical Society is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization governed by a Board of Trustees. Membership in the society is open to all with an interest in the history of our community. Membership is available at several levels and provides a range of membership benefits. The Clinton County Historical Society relies on donations, memberships, bequeaths, memorials, admission, special events, tours and return on investments for its operating funds. You can support Clinton County history with a tax-deductible financial gift. Many giving opportunities are available. If you would like to contribute, please make your check payable to the Clinton County Historical Society, with your choice of giving on the memo line.  Send to PO Box 529, Wilmington, OH  45177 If you any questions, please contact Executive Director Kay Fisher at (937) 382-4684 or via email. Annual Giving Contributions to the Clinton County Historical Society’s Annual Giving Fund are an investment in our role as a historical and cultural institution.  Revenue generated from this fund goes to support the operations of the Society, including preservation supplies for our collections, educational materials and exhibit preparation and installation. Bequeath or Memorial Bequeaths and memorials to the Clinton County Historical Society can honor your passion for Clinton County history or honor a friend or loved one’s life.  No gift is too small. Planned Giving Numerous options are available through Planned Giving.  While we cannot provide financial or legal advice, we would be happy to meet with you and your advisor to discuss your gift plan.

Policies

Archives

Archives

The research library has a comprehensive collection of genealogy material.  The History Center also maintains archives of photographs; scrapbooks; manuscripts; Township ledgers; club and organization records; topical files; historic buildings; school, business and church/meeting information.

Research Requests

Research Requests

For research requests regarding Clinton County history, not related to genealogy, please contact the History Center at (937) 382-4684 or e-mail Kay Fisher, Director.

Genealogical Research

Requests for genealogical research should be sent in writing to:

The Clinton County Genealogical Society PO Box 529 Wilmington, OH 45177

Research inquiries are directed to one of our volunteers. We attempt to answer short, clear and direct questions. Requests for information should include:

  • Short paragraph stating request for specific information.
  • Copy of your Pedigree Chart or Family Group Sheet (if possible) so we know what information you have already compiled.
  • Self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • $.25 per page copy, if more than 10 pages are requested/sent.
  • A $15 donation toward our preservation efforts would be appreciated.

If you wish more extensive research, you may want to contact a paid researcher.

Rental and Photography Policies

Photography:

The Clinton County History Center makes images available for a single use, specific project or production. Images furnished by CCHC may not be resold, licensed, rented or reused in any other production or for any purpose other than originally specified.  All requests for photographic reproduction must be submitted to the Executive Director. There is a $10.00 use fee per photograph, plus reproduction costs. The Clinton County History Center reserves the right to refuse any requests.

Room Rental:

Davids Conference Room

Business Hours (W – F, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

Conference Room may be rented for $15 an hour with a 2 hour minimum.

Non-Business Hours

$50 the first hour and $25 each additional hour, with a 2 hour minimum.

Contact the History Center for terms and availability.

The History Center retains right of refusal.

Clinton County Historical Society Collections

General James W. Denver

Civil War general, territorial governor and potential presidential candidate, James W. Denver personified “manifest destiny.”  A room of the museum contains General Denver’s personal library and artifacts from his military and governmental careers.

Born in 1817 near Winchester, Virginia, he and his family moved west to a farm near Wilmington in 1831. After receiving a degree from the Cincinnati Law School, he moved to Platte City, Mo., and opened a law office with a partner.

Always in motion, Denver recruited a volunteer infantry in the war against Mexico and served under Gen. Winfield Scott. He led a party overland to California during the Forty-niner gold rush. He served in the California State Senate, was appointed secretary of state from California and elected to Congress from California in 1855.

That same year he married Catherine Rombach, daughter of Matthew Rombach of Wilmington where the couple made their home.

Involved in national politics, Denver served as commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1857, governor of the Kansas Territory during the era of “Bleeding Kansas,” and in the Civil War became brigadier general of all federal troops in Kansas.

In the later years of Denver’s career, he organized a Washington, D.C., law firm representing Indians against the U.S. government for treaty violations.

portrait General James W. Denver at Clinton County History Center
portrait Eli Harvey, artist and sculptor, Clinton County History Center Wilmington Ohio

Eli Harvey, Artist and Sculptor

Eli Harvey, internationally known artist and sculptor, was born Sept. 23, 1860, near Springfield Friends Meeting in Clinton County, and died Feb. 10, 1957, at his home and studio in Alhambra, Calif. His ashes are buried at the Harvey family lot in Springfield Friends Cemetery.

Before his death, Harvey gave many of his paintings and bronzes to the historical society.
The collection of paintings and sculpture shown in the gallery at Rombach Place are by Harvey including a bronze copy of a bull elk, symbol of the Order of Elks, commissioned in 1904.

Specializing in the sculpture of animals, Harvey’s credits include Brown University’s mascot, “Brown bear,” the J.C. Penney bull for mail order merchant James C. Penney, and decorations for the lion house at the New York Zoological Park.

Carl Moon, Photographer of the Southwest

The second floor hallway makes a gallery for the photographs of Southwest Indians taken by Carl Moon in the early 1900s. Originally from Wilmington, Moon was among the first to photograph American Indians in their natural habitat. Drawn to the Southwest by his abiding interest in Indian culture and an intense desire to preserve what he saw as a vanishing way of life, he spent many years traveling and taking pictures among the various tribes, primarily in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. His wife, Grace Purdie Moon, once remarked, “Mr. Moon and I like to write about Indians and picture them because I think way down in our hearts, we almost wish we were Indians ourselves.”

native american portrait photo by Carl Moon, photographer of the Southwest

Relic Room

Early medical equipment, dental instruments, apothecary jars, tools, housewares and prehistoric Indian artifacts are on display in the Relic Room. This display exhibits many curiosities. Before entering the room, visitors pass a tree trunk from the Civil War battle of Chickamauga containing cannon balls, grape shot and projectiles

many items on display in the Relic Room at the Clinton County History Center
Antique toy pig and toy dog on display at the Clinton County History Center

The Toy Room

Reflecting play from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century, the toy room features toys that taught little girls to be mothers, and little boys to be men. This room contains dolls, carriages, play dishes, a carpentry box, scooters, marbles, and more. Made of porcelain, glass, wood, tin and cast iron, these toys were made to last a lifetime and beyond.

Antique textiles blankets at the Clinton County History Center

The Textile Room

The Textile Room includes Quaker (the Society of Friends) quilts and coverlets. Quakers played an early and prominent role in the settlement of Clinton County.

Quaker influence remains today with over a half dozen active Quaker meetings in Clinton County. In 1870, a Society of Friends purchased the struggling Franklin College and established the Quaker college Wilmington College.

Of particular interest in the Textile Room is the abolitionist quilt, circa 1842, made by abolitionist Quakers in Clinton County and Newport, Indiana. Measuring about six feet square, each of its 16 blocks is signed by its Quaker woman maker.

While the quilt’s exact cause for creation remains unknown, scholar Ricky Clark, in the craft magazine “Piecework” (July/August 1995), suggests it was made by the women to strengthen bonds between the two Friends meetings during the abolition separation of 1843, “when Quakers were so divided over the question of abolition that members left or were excluded from the particular Quaker meetings to which they belong.”

Vintage women's clothing at the Clinton County History Center

Artifacts, Clothing, Furnishings

In the Artifact room are 19th and early 20th century artifacts such as medical and surgical equipment, hand tools, kitchen utensils, an Edison cylinder phonograph, and Adena Indian relics.The Society has a large textile collection and periodically features different eras of fashion.

Speakers Bureau

The Speakers Bureau of the Clinton County History Center has speakers available to present to your club or organization.  Presentations are approximately 30 to 40 minutes with time for discussion.  Cost for in-county groups is $30.  For out-of- town groups, please contact the Center at 937-382-4684 or kay@clintoncountyhistory.org.

 

Hanky Panky: The History of the Handkerchief 

This presentation traces the history of the handkerchief from the Chou Dynasty, through the court of King Louis XV, through Empress Josephine, to modern day. We will trace the use of hankies at weddings, as stage props, and as the conduit of silent parlor conversations. Bring your special hankie and share your hanky history.

Antique handkerchiefs arranged

A Culture of Mourning

Every culture, religion, country, ethnic group and family has its traditions. Perhaps one of the most intriguing traditions are those surrounding death, mourning and burial. Kay Fisher will also bring samples of mourning jewelry, crepe and other tokens of mourning.

Antique memorial brooch

Clinton County Believe It or Not

From the first lady horse thief, to the giraffe stuck in a culvert, to the arsonist who set fire to downtown Wilmington, this presentation if full of little known facts and antidotes about Clinton County. It covers the strange and obscure and you can “Believe It or Not.”

Dress Reform 1850 to 1920

This presentation is about how health, politics and the arts influenced women’s fashion. For elite women, the challenge was to reach an impeccable social position and reputation for elegance and to know when they attained it.

Display of hoop supports for antique dress

The Temperance Crusade of 1873-1874 

The Temperance Crusade had its beginning on December 15, 1873 in Fredonia, New York. Wilmington, Ohio was the fourth community in the United States and the third in Ohio to have a Temperance Crusade. This presentations tells who was involved in this crusade, and why the women marched. Also learn about John Calvin Van Pelt of New Vienna, “the wickedest man in Ohio,”

Illustration of woman crusading in New Vienna, Ohio

The German POW Camp in Wilmington, Ohio 

For almost three months, from July 23 to October 13, 1945, Wilmington was the site of a Satellite POW Camp for 250 German Prisoners of War.  With so many men serving their country, Wilmington and the surrounding communities were experiencing a seasonal agricultural labor emergency.    High priorities were the need for workers in the canneries and to detassel hybrid seed corn.  With photographs and facts, this presentation tells the story of German POWs, and their impact on our community.

1945, Satellite POW Camp for 250 German Prisoners of War, Wilmington, Ohio