On Ohio’s State Flag

Ohio’s flag, adopted in 1902, is often known as the Ohio Burgee for its swallow tail design—which has most often been employed in the design of maritime signal flags. The Ohio Burgee is the only non-rectangular flag in the United States.

John Eisenmann, a Cleveland architect, was selected to design the Ohio State exhibition hall for the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901. Eisenmann also designed what would become the Ohio Burgee only a year later, as a flag to represent the Ohio Pan-American Exposition Commission, not the entire state. But in 1902, after the Governor, George K. Nash, had visited the exposition and been presented with one of the flags, State Representative William McKinnon introduced House Bill 213 creating Eisenmann’s design the official state flag.

Eisenmann’s design was so literally so “outside the box”, not being of the standard state-seal-on-a-sheet design the press actually went overseas to find precedents for the design – the layout being compared to Cuba’s flag or the flag of the Philippines, while the red and white annulus was chastised for its easy comparison to the Japanese flag.

Though still sometimes considered unpopular and not often flown by Ohioans, the Burgee remains one of the most unique flags in the Union.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard in Summer

Attracting birds to your yard during winter is usually a simple matter of providing food. However, attracting a variety of birds to frequent your yard in summer can be a bit more of a trick. Here are some simple tips for getting your feathered friends to stick around.

The basics are simple: provide shelter, safety, food and water.

As for shelter, it only makes sense that birds are going to prefer native trees and shrubs for shelter and the greater diversity of native plants in your yard will attract a greater variety of birds to your yard. If you are looking to attract a specific kind of bird do your research on the plant-shelter they prefer.

Domestic cats probably pose the most harm to birds in Ohio as far as predatory species. If you have an outdoor cat, consider putting a bell on their collar or building them a catio. In the case of free roaming or feral cats in your yard the best route is building fencing to keep them out. If ferals are trapped, neutered and taken to a shelter new ferals are likely to move into the area though this is an option.

Additionally, you’ll want to reduce the instance of mosquitos if you can. It is recommended you use pesticide to do this rather just remove standing water.  Mosquitos do carry diseases that affect birds.

For food, planting native trees and shrubs that bear flowers or provide food for insects the birds will eat are a great option or native plants that provide seeds or fruit. During certain times of year birds, like migration, birds are going to prefer native foods over anything else.

Providing a water source is the easiest chore. Ideally a water source should be elevated, placed in an open area where they won’t be surprised by predators, and filled with about an inch of water are perfect. The water source should be changed and rinsed regularly to reduce mosquitos.

You should realize that by creating an ideal habitat for birds also creates an ideal habitat for predator species like snakes and some hawks as well.  By inviting birds you may be extending an invitation to other critters as well.

Bear’s Mill, Greenville, OH Pt. 2

This is the second and final entry about Bear’s Mill in Greenville, Ohio–an 18th century mill that is still in operation for tourists today.

The mill is set against manicured lawn and tree topped hills surrounding both sides of Greenville Creek which wanders along the property. The water still powers the mill the machinery. Two damns of varied size create a two mile lake where water is channeled to the millrace. Two water gates help the stream water to be diverted into the race to power the turbines.

Jesse Tillman and John Townsend bought the mill for $8,000 in 1862. They ran it only for a few years though as it was feared Confederate soldiers would invade the state and burn the mill. The mill had many owners over the years, M.R. Cromer being the most notable as there are still colorful stories told about Mr. Cromer who owned the mill until his death in 1947 when Charles Andrews bought the property.

Andrews was a rare environmentalist in his day. He fought with the city of Greenville for years over the effluent from the Greenville treatment plant contaminating his creek and disrupting the creek flow that powered the mill and heated his home. Eventually it led to an Ohio Supreme Court case. It ended up being a landmark case in Ohio in which a city was held responsible for pollution.

Andrews was also an early adopter of the health food craze and owned a successful business shipping health food products all over the world.

Bear’s Mill, Greenville, OH Pt. 1

Bear’s Mill was built by Gabriel Baer in 1849 who was a prominent Pennsylvania miller. While construction was started by a previous owner Mr. Baer and his family completed construction. This included the millrace, which was eight hundred feet long and twenty-five feet wide. Surprisingly, this portion of the mill was dug by school children at a rate of fifty cents a day. The mill ran for about seven years after its construction.

The millstones are the basis of any mill. During this time period a set of good mill stones could cost as much as $6,000. The stones needed to be cared for carefully as any imbalance as this would cause premature wear or dulling. Sharping mill stones was an art onto itself and stone sharpeners often had a ten year long apprenticeship before sharpening on their own.  It took two years on a journey from France for Baer’s three buhr stones to get to Ohio. French buhr stones were at the time the most desirable mill stones in the world.

The timbers used for the building were hand cut and the originals still stand today. The siding of the mill was replaced in 2001 but with the original wood type, Black Walnut.

The central bay has its grain-handling doors on all four levels all serviced by a water powered wench and cable at the peak. This is how the grain was moved upstairs.

Oak Burr State Park

Found in the valley of Sunday Creek, the Burr Oak area was habited by Native Americans and later European settlers who found plentiful game and other resources needed for survival.

In the 1800s coal was found and mined for years. Santoy was a near-by mining town with a sorted history of gunfights and a coal company payroll robbery—truly bringing the “Old West” feel to Ohio.

In 1950 Burr Oak Lake was man created when the Tom Jenkins Dam was built. Two years after its construction the Burr Oak area was created as a state park.

The park features miles of tree-lined ridges while hollows comprise the foothills giving the perfect Appalachian feel. The woodlands are home to all kinds of wildlife such as white-tailed deer, box turtles, ruffed grouse and wild turkey. The lakeshore is inhabited by the majestic bald eagles, blue herons and other beautiful waterfowl.

The forest is populated by many hardwoods, mostly oaks and hickories. In autumn Burr Oak is well-known as a foliage viewing destination and the varied hardwood puts all of nature’s fall colors on full display. Spring, however, is just as expressive in its coloration at Burr Oak with when wildflowers like violets, Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, bloodroot and hepatica show off their colors while in full bloom.