In 1907, one of the largest crowds to ever assemble in the city converged on the downtown area for the Hillsboro Centennial and Homecoming on Sept. 17-19.
The photograph accompanying this story is a picture from that event that was turned into a postcard. It shows the Goyert and Vogel Company that was located on West Main Street.
The postcard was mailed from Hillsboro on Oct. 4, 1907. It was sent by Sarah Ella “Byrde” Ayres to her cousin, Alice Mae Ayres, who was employed at the Soldiers & Sailors Home in Xenia.
A copy of the photo was sent to The Times-Gazette this week by Byrde’s great-nephew, Christopher Duckworth, who was raised in Columbus, but has ties to Hillsboro and Greenfield, where his father was born.
In an email to The Times-Gazettte this week, Duckworth wrote: “The postcard’s photograph may have been taken by my grandfather, Edwin Billingham Ayres, often called Ed B. Ayres Jr., although his father’s actual name was Edwin Burette Ayres.
“… Businesses draped bunting across their storefronts in celebration, and they proudly posed outside with employees and customers, as did these Goyert & Vogel employees, or at least I believe them to have been.
“Left to right, they are: Sarah Ella “Byrde” Ayres, bookkeeper; Wilbur Woolsy, manager; George Kohl; unknown man; unknown man; George Murphy; and Frank Bourman. Perhaps your readers can identify the two unknown men and/or add some information.
“Byrde, by the way, was a bookkeeper for a number of Hillsboro companies prior to going to Washington, D.C. during World War I and subsequently returning to Hillsboro, first working at and then purchasing the photography studio of Nicholas Boris on North High Street. From 1925 until her death in 1943, Byrde operated the Ayres Art Studio in that second-floor location.”
In 1818, The Press Gazette, the forerunner of what today is The Times-Gazette, published a special section in observance of the newspaper’s 175th anniversary. One of the stories in that special section was written by local historian Jean Wallis recounting the 1907 centennial celebration in Hillsboro.
In opening her story Wallis directly quoted the newspaper’s 1907 account of the celebration. That part of the story read:
“The headlines of the Hillsboro Gazette in September 1907, read: Hillsboro’s Centennial and Highland County Homecoming a Magnificent Success.
“Fully 20,000 visitors thronged the streets on Tuesday to witness the parade and exercises – other features of the celebration.
“The celebration of Hillsboro’s centennial and Highland County homecoming was a gigantic success from every point of view, and the affair will go down in the history of the town as one of the its most important events, and which will hereafter be referred to as the biggest and best ever held in a village this size.”
Wallace went on to write the following:
“During the previous week the town was in a hubbub decorating in the most elaborate manner never before attempted in Hillsboro. They set out to out do the 1876 celebration, which was held more than a quarter century before.
“… The crowds began arriving in all sorts of conveyances and in a short time the streets were packed with people.
“As the parade began, the sidewalks and yards became packed with people. The parade was over three miles long, and could be viewed for almost two hours from every given point.
“The parade consisted of members from various lodges and societies, school children, and half of a dozen bands led by the ‘Smittie’s Band’ of Cincinnati, in addition to 100 decorated floats representing the various manufacturing and business interests of the village.”
“…The chairman of the Centennial Reception Committee was Hillsboro’s oldest native son, J. Milton Boyd, having been born in 1817, at his father’s residence which stood at the present-day site of the Masonic Temple.”
Most of the rest of the story recounts the various speeches and other events of the celebration. But it does note that Hillsborough (as it was originally spelled) was laid out by Virginia native David Hays in 1807, and that there was a fireworks display during the celebration that lasted for more than two hours.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.