Monday, May 23, 2011

New Vienna in the Roarin’ Twenties by Robert E. Wright - Part 1

This article, written by Robert E. Wright NVHS Class of 1921 first appeared in the Wilmington News-Journal on Monday May 22, 1972.

(Editor’s Note: Robert E. Wright Sr. of Cincinnati, a 1921 graduate of New Vienna High School, recalls New Vienna in the Roarin’ Twenties. He has written the following story in hopes of preserving some facts about its history... On May 27 [1972] the New Vienna Alumni Banquet is scheduled again at the school. Last year [1971] Wright’s Class celebrated its 50th anniversary. Three other men of that class, Clay Richard Clark, Walter Matson and George M. Neffner Jr., were present.)

[There is no class of ’21 picture, so instead here's a picture of the 1920-21 Radio Club.  In addition to George Neffner, Richard Clark, Robert West, Charles Good and Gerald King pictured below, other members of the Class of 1921 included Lucille Haynie Bailey, Virginia Johnson Carter, Harold West, Gerald King, William M. Rolston, George W. Johnson, Frieda J. Criesenberry Drummond, Martha Ellen Matthews Johnson, Margene Deck Duke, Bertine Triplett Townsend, Kenneth Pinkerton, Robert E. Wright,  Vivian Deck Lacy, Harold Elliott, Walter Matson, Lettie Smith, and Mabel Powell Bailey.]
New Vienna High School [Ohio] Radio Club 1920-21.  As numbered: 1-Edward R. Johnson-Principal & Instructor, 2-Burdette Holmes '24 [son of Bill Holmes], 3-Marvin Wright '24, 4-George Neffner '21, 5-Herbert Carey '24, 6-Clay Richard Clark '21, 7-Ralph Bernard '24, 8-Walter Dove '22, 9-Warren Terrell 'x-23?, 10-Robert West '21, 11-Charles Good '21, 12-Norbert Roades 'x-23?, 13-Cornelius Carey '24, 14-Myron Johnson '22, 15-Gerald King '21, 16-Paul Dennis 'x-22?.  
Image Courtesy of NVHS Memory Book, page 63.

The town of New Vienna is situated on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad halfway between Cincinnati and Chillicothe. It is at the junction of State Route 28 and 73 – Martinsville and Farmers Station to the west on 28 and Highland and Leesburg in Highland County to the northeast of [on] 28. It is about halfway from Wilmington and Hillsboro on 73. Both of these cities are county seats.

In 1920 it had a population of around 900 people. A number of businesses places could be found on both sides of Main St. that extended from the B&O Station north to a cluster of houses call Huff Town toward the Bernard and Terrell neighborhood. This Main St. met State Route 28 in the center of the town to form a Y. In the center of the Y was a town pump, where man and beast could refresh themselves at the well. Later the pump was moved to the edge of the sidewalk on the east side of the Dr. George R. Conard [b. 1/5/1842, Acting Asst. Surgeon of the US Army at the end of the Civil War, read more about him here.] residence, where a new well was drilled. The Conard residence had several tall cedar trees, where the purple grackles, called blackbirds, were wont to assemble in the evening and cause a great racket.

Main Street, New Vienna, Ohio c1910 Postcard. Image Courtesy of Mike Whited.
Conard House on the left behind the trees, hitching posts on both sides of street.

In building a new roadway down Main St. they dug up parts of an old corduroy road composed of split logs of locust and black walnut. It was surprising that they had been preserved from those earlier days. Iron posts and chains for hitching horses were to be found in front of most places of business. New Vienna was no one horse town and there were many hitching racks. It was a typical Saturday night town, like many small Ohio towns in the Twenties.

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