Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



S. Jerome Uhl


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 496


By Oscar T. Martin

S. Jerome Uhl is an artist who has made rapid progress toward fame by the force of merit alone. He has been a citizen of Springfield since 1868, during which time he has risen to a high rank in his profession. His portraits have been universally adminred for the absolute faithfulness to the originals, the delicacy of touch and realistic appearance of features. Mr. Uhl mixes his paints with the same important ingredient which Sir Joshua Reynolds said was essential to success — to wit, brains. Among the prominent works of this artist, chiefly portraits, we have observed that of Gen. Lytle, Cincinnati; Mrs. John Campbell, Ironton; Mrs. Dr. Vincent, Plainfield, N. J.; Asa Bushnell; Maj. Luther Brown, deceased; Mrs. Whitely, mother of William N. Whitely; Mrs. Amos Whitely, Mrs. Mary Cowling, Oliver S. Kelly. Several gems in landscapes have been produced from his studio. They were painted for Ross Mitchell, and are scenes about Lagonda. Mr. Uhl will leave during the present summer for Europe, where he proposes to spend about two years in study. He will take with him commissions from a number of our citizens for paintings from his hand.



Present Prospects


We have now seen the little hamlet in the woods develop from the lonely cabin on the hillside and the small cluster of log huts on the slope, through all the process of municipal growth, until it has attained the position of the third manufacturing city in the State. In all its stages, its course has been steadily onward in its symmetrical development. It is now in the heyday of its strength and enterprise, peopled by a class of citizens who demand obedience to law and order, who have a conscientious respect for religion, and a thorough appreciation of education and the fine arts. These elements of success in the past are prophetic of still greater achievements in the future. It has not yet reached its maximum stature. Its possibilities have not yet been measured. Its manufacturing establishments have been crowded out of the center of the city, and are stretching along its suburbs east and west, contiguous to the railroad tracks which intersect the city in many directions. It is on the eve of important enterprises, public and private, which will add to its wealth and importance. The establishment of water-works is in the immediate future. This has been a subject of discussion for the last ten years, but no practical steps had been taken until the present year, 1881. The necessary legislation has been obtained. Authority to issue the bonds of the city to the amount of $400,000 has been granted. A Board of Water Works Trustees, consisting of George H. Frey, John H. Thomas and Oliver S. Kelly has been elected, contracts for the work have been made, and this much-needed improvement will be added to the city. The water will be obtained above Lagonda, will be filtered in galleries, and brought fresh and pure into the houses of the citizens, in sufficient quantity and at moderate cost.

The Grand Opera House, a beautiful building, will be finished by the 1st day of October, 1881. It is being erected by John W. Bookwalter, a citizen of wealth, on the site of the former shops of James Leffel & Co., which have been removed to the vicinity of Lagonda. It has all the modern improvements, stage accessories, exits, etc., a seating capacity of 1,200, and will be finished in the highest style of the decorative art. It will be the pride of the city.

The railroad enterprise which has engaged the latest attention of our citizens is the proposed extension east of the Indianapolis, Bloomington & Western Railroad from Indianapolis to Springfield, connecting with lines east and north here. This will place the city on the great highway of trade and travel between the East and West. The company has asked a donation from the citizens in the sum of $100,000, and will then extend the road through New Carlisle to Springfield, opening an entirely new territory, which will be greatly to the advantage of the city. There is also in contemplation the construction of a standard gauge road from Springfield north through Piqua and Sidney, which, if completed, would open a way to the Northwest. This road is called the Springfield, St. Paris & Sidney road.

In concluding this part of this history, the writer desires to return his acknowledgment for the assistance which has been afforded him by the labors of those who have traversed this field before him, and without whose sketches and historical reminiscences this work would have been impossible. Robert C. Woodward, the efficient Librarian of the Public Library, is the local historian who has been assiduous in collecting and preserving many matters connected with the early settlement of Springfield. These were published in a small book in 1852, under the title of "Sketches of the City of Springfield." Great freedom has been taken with these sketches, and they have been embodied herein so far as applicable. Dr. John Ludlow, who is a connecting link between past and present Springfield, some years ago read before the Clark County Historical Society a series of valuable papers on the early settlers of Springfield, which were partly based upon the sketches of Mr. Woodward, and partly upon his own recollections. The valuable historical statements which were made in those papers, subject ot such corrections as were necessary, have been incorporated in these pages, and to these gentlemen full credit should be given. The memories of the older citizens, the newspapers of the day, old rusty records and forgotten archives have been fruitful sources of information. In what has been written there will no doubt appear many errors, but these will be pardonable, as the entire work was performed, of necessity, in a few weeks, amid the hurried rush and continued interruptons of a professional life.

This closes the history of the city proper. Its educational, religious and industrial interests are histories in themselves, and may be found in the succeeding pages. The various departments of the city, and its more important elements, such as its press, railroads, telegraph, public library, art, etc., etc., are given in detail in the pages which follow. The aim has been to present Springfield as it was, and as it is. If we have but barely outlined it in the foregoing and in the succeeding pages, we shall be satisfied.