Brookville Historical Society
A Peek at Brookville's Past 
 
The articles below provide a glimpse of yesteryear in Brookville, Ohio.  These articles and pictures are compiled from information contained in our vast collection on area businesses, people, events, calamities and other items too numerous to mention.  An article appears each week in our local newspaper The Brookville Star. We hope you will enjoy reading these samples.    
 

Parish Cemetery
 
The land for Parish Cemetery in Arlington was given to the people of the area by Henry B. Parish, who lived in Arlington, and purchased the ground from 
the government in 1814. The earliest burial in Parish Cemetery is recorded as being that of Sarah Green in 1851 and the earliest born person buried th
ere is Michael Baker, born in 1768. Miss Mary Worman lived to be the oldest person buried there, dying in 1911 at the age of 103. The largest tombstone in Parish cemetery marks the grave of a man, James Dunlap, who lived the life of a hermit, thought to be destitute and without friends. In 1856, Dunlap vowed that if John C. Fremont didn’t win the presidential election that year, he would never cut his hair again. Fremont lost to James Buchanan and Dunlap kept his vow. A few of the older resident’s remembered the long flowing hair of Dunlap, who died in 1906 at the age of 71. The mausoleum at Parish Cemetery was built in 1918 and the first person to be placed in it was Dr. William S. Mundhenk of Brookville. In January 1928, W. W. Helwig collected funds to put a 9’2” Howitzer in the Parish Cemetery at Arlington. At first it was to be displayed at the Scott Hay residence but it was too heavy. Instead it was unloaded by derrick at the yard of the Brookville Bridge Works and put on display there. In May 1931, the Howitzer cannon was finally in place at the Parish Cemetery in Arlington. It was dedicated in memory of fallen war heroes. The speaker was Rev. Joseph P. Hendrix. The Brookville Band provided music.
 

Studebaker Sunday  
In August, 1983, Carroll Studebaker held the first of several ‘Studebaker Day’s’ in Brookville at his Studebaker Building at the corner of Hay Avenue and Sycamore Streets. It was co-sponsored by the Brookville Historical Society as a fund raiser. Attendees could view his vast collection. Mr. Studebaker was an electrical contractor living in Brookville. In the late 1960’s, he became aware that his ancestors had started the Studebaker Company famous for wagons and later, automobiles. Research on his family tree revealed that he was a direct descendant of Clement Studebaker, who with his brother Henry, founded a blacksmith and wagon-building business in 1852. Upon discovering this information, Carroll began collecting Studebaker wagons, cars, memorabilia and anything with Studebaker on it. He bought his first Studebaker, a 1907 Electric run-a-bout in the early 1970’s. It was a navy-blue “horseless carriage” and was made entirely of wood and leather except for its steel frame. The vehicle ran on specially built batteries. The vehicle was all original except for a few missing parts he had to make himself. He later added a 1911 Electric Coupe, a 1927 Dictator, a 1938 President “business coupe” and many other classics to his collection. Clement, Henry and (later) John Studebaker produced high-quality wagons and made their South Bend Indiana factory the largest vehicle house in the World. Studebaker wagons were used widely by the military in the Civil War and World War I. The first Studebaker cars were built in 1902. As a part of his collection, Mr. Studebaker had two Studebaker wagons. The oldest was a 1910 buggy with a canopy. The other was a wicker basket pony cart, once owned by President Dwight Eisenhower. The pony cart was made in 1920, the last year Studebaker made wagons. Carroll also had several Junior Studebaker wagons, all toy replicas made by a South Bend toy company. Some Studebaker milestones include: 1902 First Electric car built, 1904 First gaspowered car built, 1925 Balloon tires became standard, 1927 Compact “Erskine” first sold, 1928 Merger with Pierce Arrow, 1951 first V-8 engine, 1954 merger with Packard, 1964 U.S. production ends.
 

 
Brookville Community Picnic
 
The first Community Picnic (Farmer’s Picnic) was held in Brookville on Wednesday, July 24, 1929.  It was then halted after the 1936 picnic.
 
After Brookville’s 1950 centennial celebration, which went over so big, the Chamber of Commerce decided to bring back the Farmer’s Picnic.  At that time, they made a decision to have some sort of celebration every year.  This year would have been the 70th consecutive Community Picnic had it not been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   
 
Seventy years ago, on Wednesday August 15, 1951, the Chamber held their first picnic.  They began planning for it in March 1951.  They decided to hold the picnic at Golden Gate Park. All businesses closed at 11:00 a.m. on picnic day.  Some of the first organizers were Sam Thomas, who was named Picnic Chairman, Paul Weitendorf, members of the Village Park Board, Ora Phillabaum, Lawrence Weisenborn, Ed Gilbert, Harry Smith, Mrs. Minnie Greenblat, Robert Warnke, Don Behnken, Bob Dunkel, Tom Roberts, Bill Fasnacht, Roy Somers, Wibur Rasor and Bud Steck.  There were prizes, free peanuts, balloons and favors.  They held contests, music and fun for all.  The Brookville High School Band played in the evening.  The opening was at noon, various games and contests were held all afternoon, including pony rides for the kids.  The grand prize of the day was a 17” television set. 
 
Another big attraction was the steam engines, a threshing machine, a sawmill, a couple of loads of wheat, and some logs for demonstrations.  The steam engines, farm type gas engines, older gas tractors, a Baker fan, and a  model steam engine were also displayed.  In the evening there was a steam engine race. The steam engines and antique tractors continued to be a big drawing card for future picnics.  The admission was 25-cents and did not begin to cover the cost of the event.  Local businessmen gave of their time and money to make the Picnic possible.
 

"Flying Circus" Show 
 
 The first Air Show sponsored by the Brookville Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) was held on Sunday September 13, 1964 at Rasor’s Airport on Route 40.   The show was put on by the Barnstormin’ Barnhills, a professional troupe from Akron. The show consisted of five beautiful planes, parachute jumpers and clowns. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds went to the proposed Barney Children’s Hospital Fund.   The Barnstormin’ Barnhills flew an assortment of vintage airplanes, one of which was a RYAN STA-1 two-seater, a classy low-wing monoplane from the builders of the Spirit of St. Louis.  The also had a WACO UIC cabin bi-plane, three WACO UPF-7 bi-planes along with a KYW-TV Clown Cub that completed the circus fleet.  Although all of the planes were all thirty years old or older, they were in excellent condition.  For a nominal fee, the planes were available for private plane rides after the show. The troupe performed stunt flying and sky diving, complete with wing walking, daring plane to plane transfers, split second parachute maneuvers and smoke bomb spectaculars.    Some of the stars performing were Major Bob Barnhill,a  former fighter pilot, Dale McBride, a charter pilot and parachute expert, and Bill Jaccuad, “Tail Skid” clown pilot.  A fly-in drive-in breakfast began at dawn.  Serving continued until noon. In the afternoon, there were pony rides for the kids along with concession stands.  The club members were grateful for the good turnout and the support given to their project, chaired by Bill Peeler, Jim Bailey and Don Baker. Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Rasor turned over the air field to the Jaycees, without charge, to stage the show.  The members of the Civil Air Patrol helped with directing traffic and parking.  The Brookville Fire Department was on standby with
their equipment.
 

   Slyder's Western Shop
 
  For 25 years the Slyder family brought to the Brookville area the interest in horsemanship.  Young or Old, riding for pleasure or competition, it brought families together.  We moved to the farm on Wellbaum Rd. in 1957.  Soon each had a horse of their own and enjoyed riding country roads, meeting others and rode together.  The few empty stalls soon filled with boarding horses and the need for equipment and supplies grew.  Contacts were made to companies for these items, plans became reality, and the one car garage became the “Western Shop” in 1962.  Soon needs were for boots, jeans, hats and clothing items.  Horse shows every weekend.  Central States Association made rules that were followed by the many clubs and 4H exhibiting thru the state.  The opportunity to travel to events, involved in restoring a moving van, into a completely supplied ‘shop’.  A good friend and employee did the driving and the guys attended and supplied many events over the years.  In 1969 we bought the 36 acre Littten farm at auction on the corner of Brookville-Salem and Wellbaum Roads.  Already thoughts of needed expansion were in mind.  The new western shop was a priority and the 5000 sq. ft. store with balcony was completed and moved into spring 1972. Jim’s dream was still of an arena to serve not only the horse world, but to promote public activities.  Plans with several interested investors advanced, with 10 acres deeded for the project, paper work, contractors, and construction started spring 1973.  Over an acre under roof, 47,000 sq. ft., bleachers to seat 1500 people, a large kitchen and rest area.  Also had an office, a show arena, and 20 stalls.  The north side open for pens, rodeos, travelers, rest rooms.  There was a  parking lot for over 100 units.  It was named “Cowtown Arena”. Later a car auction was held there, along with several open garage sales free for the public.  Even a couple weddings, seemed no limit to activities.  The end of the 1979 season offers were made on the building, by a Dayton company.  Jim had some health problems and it was a hard decision for us to make.  He died in 1984. The Western Shop remained open until the end of 1987.
 

Thokey Photo Studio

Thokey Photo StudioPriser's Photo Studio operated at 104 Market Sytreet in Brookville beginning in the 1940's.  Clarence Priser did professional photo work for many years.  He also specialized in doing Brookville and other local school class pictures.  In 1981, Mr. Priser left the photo business to become the pastor of a church in Sparta, North Carolina.
 
Larry Thokey, a Brookville native took over the studio when Mr. Priser left Brookville.  Mr. Thokey, a graduate of Brookville High School in 1957, learned photography in the U S Army Photo School at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey.  While operating the photo studio, Mr. Thokey contributed much to the community.  He was active in the Brookville Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club.  He worked at the Community Picnic over the years and donated financially to the Brookville Community Scholarship Foundation.  Mr. Thokey also did Brookville School's class pictures.
 
When Mr. Thokey left the Photo Studio in 1996, he too went into the Christian ministry just as his predecessor had done.