THE CHARLES HOTEL PRIVY
BY DIGGER ODELL
©2002 Digger Odell Publications
the train today to Morrow, if the schedule is right, today it goes to Morrow and
returns tomorrow night.” (From a song by the Kingston Trio)
Little Miami Company was organized in 1836 to construct a railroad from
Cincinnati to Springfield, Ohio, there to connect to the Mad River and Lake Erie
Road. Ex-Governor Jeremiah Morrow was made president to the company. Like most
early enterprises money troubles began shortly after work was under way in 1837.
It took four years to lay the track fifteen miles and it was not until 1844 that they arrived thirty-six miles north of Cincinnati, in Morrow, a town created by the railroad that same year. Morrow, situated at the mouth of Todd's Fork of the Little Miami River, had a modest beginning with only 49 lots in the original plat. The new town was named after Jeremiah Morrow. By 1850 the census showed 458 people and it was growing rapidly. In 1851, a second line was begun in Morrow for the Cincinnati, Wilmington, Zanesville Railroad to be about 250 miles in length, with connections to Baltimore and Philadelphia. Morrow had a bright future and was expected to soon become a much larger place. It became known across the nation in the gay 1890's for the song "I want to go to Morrow and I want to go today."
Morrow was truly a railroad town. All of the main business district was on Railroad St. The saloons, dry goods, and hotels depended upon the flow of travelers. Most who lived in town were dependent upon the railroad for their livelihoods. The big roundhouse, now long since torn down, was the hub of activity for the engineers, brakeman, conductors, baggage masters and yard clerks. Just across from the train depot sat the Charles Hotel. It was here that many of the railroaders and travelers stayed. Rooms could be had for $1.00 a day and meals were .25 cents. The hotel was small by modern standards but comfortable.
Perkins was one of the more that 150,000 passengers that had ridden the Little
Miami Railroad this year. She was on her way to see her mother in Covington,
Kentucky. She had missed the early morning train because of making connections
from Columbus at Xenia, Ohio.
took "the Express" which didn't run on Sunday so she would be in
Morrow at the Charles Hotel until Monday to catch the early train "the
Flier" at five o'clock and twenty minutes a.m. Mary was in her late forties
and not married. She dreaded meeting her mother's incessant questioning about
her marital prospects. She had brought along a bottle of hair dye to hide the
gray that was beginning to show.
Melbourne had paid his $17.50 for his journey from New York to Cincinnati where
he would seek his fortune. The forty-eight hour journey had begun by boat from
New York City to Albany where he caught the express. There was no charge on the
boat for meals and sleeping quarters were provided. The train was another story,
as sleeping cars were an unheard of luxury. The train went to Buffalo where he
again transferred to boat arriving in Cleveland which was still another twelve
hours from his destination. From Cleveland he took the train to Columbus, from
there to Xenia where he rode on the Little Miami Railroad for the final 59 mile
leg of his journey. As it was late when the train pulled into Morrow, when
he decided to spend the night. The long journey had played havoc with his
digestive system. He purchased a bottle of Hoof land's German Bitters
which he knew to be a remedy for dyspepsia and afflictions arising from a
March 3, 1860:
Butterworth was only 13 but was proud of the new job he had. His parents were
field hands on the Hanover Farm just on the edge of town. He walked to the
Charles Hotel every afternoon to work at his job of kitchen helper. One of his
daily duties was to take the garbage, trash and chamber pots out and dump them
into the outhouse. Today he had quite a load of jars, broken plates, and an old
cracked handless cup along with the kitchen debris. Though the task was somewhat
unpleasant, he didn't mind, he was earning fifty cents a week.
Pearson had ridden the twenty-seven miles to Morrow to see the President. He
checked into the crowded Charles Hotel. Hardly a room was left anywhere within
ten miles. President Lincoln was in Cincinnati this evening and tomorrow would
be riding the Little Miami from Cincinnati to Columbus. Stops were planned in
Milford, Miamiville, Morrow, Corwin, Xenia and London. Talk that evening
centered around the controversy surrounding this trip and an alleged
assassination attempt. Jacob had purchased two pints of the best whiskey he
could find at the local saloon and spent the night celebrating.
Hicks was a railroader. His job was to help load and unload freight. He had been
in Zanesville this morning and purchased a pint of whiskey from a local
merchant. Zanesville was a glass making town he remembered as he noticed the
wording on the flask "Zanesville Glass Works". Tonight in Morrow, he
would check into a local hotel and celebrate in his usual fashion.
Morgan got off the train after a brief ride from Springfield and checked into
the Charles Hotel. His doctor had recommended he see a specialist in Cincinnati
and thought a few nights in the country would be a helpful part of his
treatment. His debilitating illness was of a personal nature, contracted in his
youth during a forgotten period of indiscretion. He had been experiencing
symptoms of anemia, fever and weight loss and was feeling particularly poor as
of late. He carried with him hope in a bottle.
Paul Emmons was a hardware salesman from Pittsburgh specializing in farm
equipment. He was traveling throughout the Midwest hawking his latest plowing
and harvesting equipment. He was tired after his journey. He crossed Railroad
Street from the train depot and checked into the Charles Hotel. Mr. Emmons was
tired of his job and had of late taken up drinking. In his brief case, beside
the catalogs and contracts, he always carried a half pint or so of his favorite
and I had permission to look for the privy to the Charles Hotel. The hotel was
gone and only a comer lot remained with the outline of the foundation which
spanned what is now two separate lots. In our first attempt to locate the
privies we probed for hours finding only a very shallow and very new pit up
against a small barn at the back of the lot. We post holed another spot and
gotten aqua glass and other good signs on the half of the lot on which we didn't
got permission to dig a couple of privies behind a house dating to 1867 which
sat on the property adjacent to where the Charles Hotel had been. We found a
number of squat sodas and several pontiled McLean's Vermifuge bottles in
a stone liner. The oldest hole was a wood liner with nothing whole and only a
broken Roback's Bitters. We probed a third very large hole which sat at
the back comer of the lot right behind what used to be part of the Charles
Hotel. Several weekends later when we opened it up it turned out to be an
impressive four by eight by fifteen feet deep privy. Sadly, it was the turn of the
century privy which had a mixture of machine made and late bimal bottles, but was
certainly the newest hole for the Charles Hotel. Shortly before leaving we
probed another hole that sat along the Charles Hotel property line perpendicular
to the new hole. It was probably the hole we had post holed five years earlier.
Our faulty recollection was that it had been a round stone hole but this privy
was rectangular and appeared fairly large.
23, 1994: Mike had called from
Pennsylvania saying he would be in town and wanted to dig. Ted and I felt that
if this privy was a mate to the big one at the back of the lot it would be a two
day job and we'd be thankful for the help. We went to the lot on Friday evening
to get a start on the hole, hoping we could finish by Saturday night, but we
reserved Sunday just in case. The hole, a stone lined rectangular pit 4'x 6'x 8'
deep, was mercifully smaller and shallower than we were expecting. In fact we
had finished digging it by two o'clock Saturday and had time to split up the
Two Dr. Jas. Kerr's Great System Renovator - Cincinnati, 0,
(advertised Cincinnati 1867 Dr. James C. Kerr Will cure all diseases resulting
from bad blood.)
1/2 pint double eagle flask, aqua (GII-28)
1/2 pint Pike's Peak Ceredo, light green (GXI-36)
1/2 pint Union Clasped Hands, aqua (GXII-31)
Pint Zanesville City Glass Works (1864-1876 - GXV-28)
Hoofland's German Bitters aqua,
three pontil puffs
0. Crook M.D. Vegetable Syphilitic Remedy Dayton, 0. (advertised Buffalo
Daily Courier 1865 as "Dr. Crook's Vegetable S-ph-I-s Remedy". Dr.
Oliver Crook & Company Dayton also made Crook's Wine of Tar (Baldwin)
Established 1868 Oliver Crook and Company when he was already dispensing his
Wine of Tar. The business lasted only to 1875 when the company changed hands (Fike)
Scoville's Blood and Liver Syrup Cincinnati, 0. (Produced by Amon L.
Scovill a druggist in Cincinnati beginning in 1842. He was dealing in patent
medicines in the 1850s. The Blood Syrup was a good seller and dates around the
Two Ayer's Ague Cure, James C. Ayer was in the medicine business in
Lowell, Mass as early as 1841, The Ague Cure was introduced in 1858 (Fike).
Early specimens were pontiled this bottle appears to be mid- I 1860s.
pontiled Black Glass Ale
Sided Ink, hinge mold
painted china marble
miniature porcelain double doll
strap sided aqua flask
10-12 unembossed round and oval miscellaneous bottles
large round hinge mold
handless cup early hand painted decoration
items found in this privy, like other privies, were not deposited there in a
single dumping episode, but rather over a span of up to twenty years. This pit
was probably cleaned out from time to time. The average age of the bottles
seemed to be the mid 1860's.
Evidence of earlier use is suggested by the few pontiled bottles and shards such
as the Fenimore's which was found up against the wall at the bottom.
small amber shard with embossed anchor - identified as "Dr. Dunlap's Anchor
Bitters" - label only bottle with embossed anchors, Minneapolis Minn., 1884
Mason Med. Co.
2) Redware pot with 12 on bottom
3) 3-4 types of crocks and jugs
canning jars - one Hemmingray, several cork wax sealers, one Patent Sept. 1860.
5) miscellaneous dishes
6) pudding mold bowl
shell decorated spittoon Rockingham glaze
4-5 broken Crook's Syphilitic Remedy
Christidoro's / Hair dye No 1, square, aqua, open pontil
Hostetter's Stomach Bitters - dark olive green
Fenimore's / Liniment or / Pain Extractor / Price 50 cts., square, five
inches, aqua, pontil.
two deep purple amethyst almost black, strap side flasks with ground threaded
several chamber pots - yellow ware and white ware
interstate highway bypassed Morrow and the railroad tracks have been torn out.
Morrow is just one of the many forgotten railroad towns scattered across the
country. I never saw the Charles Hotel which was torn down years ago or Morrow
in its glory, but I do have a sense of what happened there. The many stories
connected with these bottles give us diggers the opportunity to dream about how
things might have been and a look at how they really were as we dig into the
secrets of the past.
Joseph K. A Collector's Guide to Patent and Proprietary Medicine Bottles of
the Nineteenth Century. Nashville, New York: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Dallas R. Early Transportation in Warren County. Warren County Historical
Society Lebanon, Ohio: UN Printing Co. Middletown, Ohio. 1992.
Richard E. The Bottle Book a Comprehensive Guide to Historic, Embossed
Medicine Bottles. Salt Lake City, Utah: Gibbs M. Smith Inc. 1987.
Ohio Railroad Guide.
Ohio State Journal Company, Columbus: 1854.
characters in this story are entirely fictional.