Blanchester’s history presented in newly released pictorial book


Part of ‘Images of America’ series

By Gary Huffenberger - [email protected]



The cover of the newly published book “Images of America: Blanchester” has a sepia tone.


Brace yourselves, fans of Ohio State Buckeyes football. On Football Saturdays in Ann Arbor, Michigan for many years, the person who presided at the toss of the coin was born in Blanchester, Ohio.

Hazel Marie Losh was born in the summer of the Spanish-American War — the summer of 1898 — in the village of Blanchester. As a girl she loved the stars, according to an essay about her in the online University of Michigan Heritage Project.

Losh was a tenured professor of astronomy, the first woman to hold that position at Michigan. In a career stretching from the presidency of Calvin Coolidge to the election of Richard Nixon, the total number of her students apparently exceeded 50,000.

Before joining Michigan’s faculty, she spent two years at the prestigious Wilson Observatory in California — the first woman with a Ph.D. on that staff.

The Heritage Project’s mini-biography quotes Kenneth Yoss, an astronomer at the University of Illinois, saying, “Doc Losh was the best teacher I ever had teach me anything.”

She taped a radio show called “Astronomy Report” that played on public-radio stations in Michigan.

Losh directed that her tombstone be inscribed with words from “The Old Astronomer to His Pupil,” by the 19th-century English poet Sarah Williams: I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

She died in 1978.

Please visit heritage.umich.edu/stories/doc-losh/ to read the entire essay and to see photos.

The new book “Images of America: Blanchester” names Losh in chapter 1 as one of Blanchester’s Notable Locals.

BLANCHESTER — A pictorial history book of Blanchester is now available, full of archival black-and-white photographs accompanied by explanatory text.

The chapter titles are Notable Locals, Fire and Ruin, The Centennial Celebration, Trains and Traction, School Days, Touched by War, A Sense of Community, Business and Commerce, and Street Fairs and Celebrations.

The primary author is Robyn Stone-Kraft of Cincinnati. whose grandparents lived in Blanchester while she was growing up. She dedicated the book to her grandma and grandpa, “who let me visit, play, and dream in their lovely small town.”

Stone-Kraft emailed comments to the News Journal for this article.

“When I told people about my book, the first response was usually a snort and some sort of implication that my research wouldn’t turn up anything of interest. I found that to be untrue! Despite being a small and quiet place, Blanchester has a really exciting and varied history, with a lot more hustle and bustle than one would imagine,” she wrote.

“When I went up for the July 4th celebration last year, it was bigger and more crowded than I had ever seen it,” added Stone-Kraft.

Among Blanchester’s noteworthy townspeople, Stone-Kraft stated she is a fan of Clarence J. Brown Sr., “entirely because he founded a publishing company — Brown Publishing Company.”

She elaborated on the reason for her choice.

“His political career and that of his son [Clarence J. “Bud” Brown Jr.] are notable as well, but I’m a printed word person,” Stone-Kraft wrote in the email.

Thumbing through the book, page 114 shows a photograph of the Wright Brothers’ plane, the Wright Flyer, brought to the Blanchester Fairgrounds and placed on exhibit around 1909 or 1910.

On page 66, there’s an outdoor photograph taken at the Methodist Episcopal Church on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1915. That day, Sunday school there posted an attendance of 444. The picture shows hundreds of attendees and almost as many hats.

Among the photo gems in the Business and Commerce chapter are the Jackson Sisters Fine Millinery shop (destroyed in the 1895 fire); Penquite Meat Market in its early years; an overall factory; the J.B. Starkey Grocery wagon and horse; and Kirk’s Flake Soap building.

The 128-page paperback book is available locally at the Blanchester Area Historical Society and online at www.arcadiapublishing.com. The price of “Images of America: Blanchester” is $21.99. It’s published by Arcadia Publishing in Charleston, South Carolina, and is part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series.

Stone-Kraft’s co-author is Richard Read, a Blanchester resident for more than 30 years.

The publisher describes itself as the largest publisher of local and regional content in America.

In her email to the News Journal, Stone-Kraft said the book “would not have been remotely possible without John Simpson and the Blanchester Area Historical Society.”

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.

The cover of the newly published book “Images of America: Blanchester” has a sepia tone.
http://wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_blanchestercov.jpgThe cover of the newly published book “Images of America: Blanchester” has a sepia tone.
Part of ‘Images of America’ series

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]

Brace yourselves, fans of Ohio State Buckeyes football. On Football Saturdays in Ann Arbor, Michigan for many years, the person who presided at the toss of the coin was born in Blanchester, Ohio.

Hazel Marie Losh was born in the summer of the Spanish-American War — the summer of 1898 — in the village of Blanchester. As a girl she loved the stars, according to an essay about her in the online University of Michigan Heritage Project.

Losh was a tenured professor of astronomy, the first woman to hold that position at Michigan. In a career stretching from the presidency of Calvin Coolidge to the election of Richard Nixon, the total number of her students apparently exceeded 50,000.

Before joining Michigan’s faculty, she spent two years at the prestigious Wilson Observatory in California — the first woman with a Ph.D. on that staff.

The Heritage Project’s mini-biography quotes Kenneth Yoss, an astronomer at the University of Illinois, saying, “Doc Losh was the best teacher I ever had teach me anything.”

She taped a radio show called “Astronomy Report” that played on public-radio stations in Michigan.

Losh directed that her tombstone be inscribed with words from “The Old Astronomer to His Pupil,” by the 19th-century English poet Sarah Williams: I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

She died in 1978.

Please visit heritage.umich.edu/stories/doc-losh/ to read the entire essay and to see photos.

The new book “Images of America: Blanchester” names Losh in chapter 1 as one of Blanchester’s Notable Locals.

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