The detective work is continuing for people at the Butler County Historical Society: Sifting through historical documents, newspapers and other records on their search to find the names of every veteran who has lived in the county.
Toward that effort, the historical society this weekend — in time for Memorial Day — will post on its website a link to a database of names that have been collected so far from the mid-1940s to now, said Kathy Creighton, executive director of the society.
“We are going live with Cold War to the present, and the end of World War II, so roughly 1946 to present,” Creighton said.
Because there are so many names, they will be separated into categories: Korean War-era, roughly 1946 to 1962; Vietnam, from 1963 to ‘71; and post-Vietnam to present, she said.
The website is www.bchistoricalsociety.com. The database can be found by clicking on the “About Us” tab at the top of the page, then highlighting the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument tab and then clicking on the words “Veterans Database.”
For those who served during World War II, researchers have added more than 5,000 names from those they already had, with hundreds more still to be added, Creighton said.
World War I names are complete, but won’t be posted yet, because the primary focus now is, “Let’s get the veterans that are still alive,” she said.
People will be able to click on a link and search for names. They can then call or email the society with additions, changes corrections. Although names will not be posted for World War II or earlier, people are also welcome to call or send emails with names of people who served.
For World War II veterans, “We’re still collecting the data,” Creighton said. “It’d be nice if we could go live with it for the 4th of July, but at this point I don’t know where we’re at. I think we’re over 12,000 names.”
People have been calling in names in recent months after she put out a call for names. Ultimately, names of all Butler County veterans who can be found will appear in a computer kiosk inside the county’s Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument.
Just this week, society staff found a World War I veteran from Oxford who somehow hadn’t made their list. His name had not appeared in books listing all Ohio veterans who served then. Staffers found him on a list of veterans buried in cemeteries. He was Oxford native Ensign Ranson Butler Clark, who served in the U.S. Navy Reserve Forces and was discharged in 1921 at the rank of lieutenant, junior grade.
Clark had been adopted by Dr. Frank Lowry and Natalie Clark of Oxford. He was a Navy pilot who served in France. He graduated in 1922 from Miami University and returned to France, where he died in the town of St. Trojan, June 18, 1928, of a heart attack. The Hamilton Evening News wrote about his burial service in France, after which his body was shipped back to Oxford.
The Butler Boys of the Civil War
In other historic military news, the Civil War American flag used in battle by the 35th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry — known as the Butler Boys — should return to the county early next year, and there will be a ceremony to accompany it. It is being restored in Cleveland.
“They’re a little bit behind schedule, only because they had a rush artifact come in from the Smithsonian, and somehow they thought the Smithsonian was more important than we were,” she said with a laugh.
“We’re doing a major exhibit on the 35th,” said Creighton, who noted two direct descendants have been identified from that regiment.
“We’re hoping when we do the dedication of the flag, we actually will have descendants from the guys of the 35th,” she said. “I had one lady come in, she was doing research on her relative, and she came from Columbus, and she said, ‘He’s Civil War.’ I said, ‘What unit?’ She said 35th. I said, ‘Sit down, I have to talk to you.’”
She promised she and her brother, who lives in Pittsburgh, will be there for the dedication.
Meanwhile, the search for military names continues.
“I’m finding Butler Boys that aren’t even on the wall (of the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument) from Butler County,” Creighton said. On the other hand, she noted that it isn’t clear what criteria were used in determining what names would be engraved on the walls.
She has added the names of more than 250 local Civil War veterans, “and I’m barely started on the Civil War.”
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