SIDNEY – Throughout 2019, as Shelby County marked the bicentennial of its founding, the flag that symbolizes its existence as a vibrant, important section of Ohio and the nation has been hand-carried from village to village to stand sentinel over every celebration.
On Feb. 22, it will make its final ceremonial journey when descendants of Sidney’s titans of industry move the flag from Lockington to the county seat for the Bicentennial Ball, the last of the county’s events and the kick-off of Sidney’s bicentennial events, which will continue throughout 2020.
“The founders of these businesses built Sidney and Shelby County. It’s fitting that we recognize that we wouldn’t be celebrating today if they hadn’t done what they did in the formative years of our history,” said Shelby County Historical Society Director Tilda Phlipot. The historical society has coordinated all the flag runs.
“We’re grateful that their relatives today will help us pay tribute to them,” she added.
Because the weather could be nasty, the flag will be carried by automobiles this time. County residents are invited to line the route to cheer its passage. The run will begin at 3 p.m. at the Lockington Fire Department, 10363 Museum Trail, and end at the Shelby County Courthouse in downtown Sidney. The run is expected to take less than an hour and could be complete in a half hour, so spectators should plan to be roadside early.
Marjorie and Tom Dunnavant, of Sidney, will drive the flag from the fire station east along Museum Trail, then north along Miami Conservancy Road to 1276 Miami Conservancy Road. Marjorie’s fourth-great-grandfather, John Blake, purchased the first parcel of land in downtown Sidney and opened a tavern in 1820. Later, that location was home to Thedick’s Department Store and in more recent times, to Uhlman’s store.
“(John) was in the lumber business in England,” Marjorie said. “Shelby County had court proceedings (in the tavern) occasionally. (John) bought horses (in Shelby County) and sold them in Lexington, Kentucky. He was killed on the way back from Lexington in 1825.”
She’s happy to represent him in the flag run.
“I think it’s neat (that I was asked to participate). Sidney is a great place to live. I’m glad he settled here,” she said.
The Dunnavants will pass the flag to Carleen Pettit, of Piqua, who will drive it north along Miami Conservancy Road to the Lockington United Methodist Church, 2190 Miami Conservancy Road.
“My great-great-grandfather was Philip Smith,” she said. Smith started a business making wagon wheel spokes in 1859 and a hollowware plant that was eventually sold to the Wagner Mfg.
“One of them was along Miami Avenue, across the street from where Sidney Dairy used to be,” Pettit said. “He retained the Philip Smith Mfg. Co. until 1907, when he retired.” Smith also was interested in politics and served on the city council.
“It’s awesome that my great-grandfather had a part of Sidney’s being what it is today,” Pettit said.
Pettit will pass the flag to Suzanne and Roger Lentz, of Anna, who will drive it north along Miami Conservancy Road, then east along Fair Road to 11498 Fair Road.
“I’m here because of Heinrich Henry Enders,” Suzanne said. He moved from Germany to
Sidney in 1855 and lived at the bottom of Orbison Hill. He opened a weaving business.
Suzanne’s grandmother was Sadie Enders. Sadie did not work for the weavers, but her brothers did. So did her father, Christian. He made coverlets.
“I’m very proud to be in the flag run. I may even bring along one of the coverlets for the trip,” Suzanne said.
The Lentzes will pass the flag to John Amos, of Tipp City, who will drive it east along Fair Road to the entrance driveway at Fair Haven, 2901 Fair Road, Sidney.
Amos is the great-grandson of Gen. James O. Amos, who came to Sidney in 1876 following two terms in the Ohio Senate and a stint as the state’s adjutant general. He purchased a local newspaper, the Shelby County Democrat.
“On Jan. 1, 1891, (he) founded The Sidney Daily News, published in conjunction with the weekly newspaper. The Shelby County Democrat’s last issue was published on June 29, 1940. The Amos family continued to own The Sidney Daily News until it was sold to Brown Publishing in 2000 along with Amos Suburban Newspapers which included two daily and six weekly newspapers surrounding the Dayton area,” Amos said.
Later family members established News Engravers, which became Graphic Arts, and Industrial Nameplates, which became VisionMark. While the newspaper and other businesses were sold during the 2000s, Amos Media continues to publish Coin World, Linn’s Stamp News and Scott catalogs.
In addition, the Amoses have been major philanthropists.
“Over the years the family has supported various Sidney and Shelby County organizations including the library, hospital, (Dorothy Love, the animal shelter) and YMCA,” Amos said.
Amos will pass the flag to Frank Gleason Jr., of Sidney, who will drive it east along Fair Road
to 2345 Fair Road.
“Gleason’s father was one of a group known as the Four Horsemen, who purchased Copeland and brought it to Sidney in 1937,” said Phlipot. Frank Gleason Sr. became the firm’s president in 1956 and his son took the reins in 1970, when the elder Gleason retired. Copeland became a subsidiary of Emerson Electric, now Emerson Climate Technologies, in 1986.
“I’m so glad that Frank decided to come (on the flag run), because Emerson is still such a big part of our community,” Phlipot said. “The Emerson Trust continues to support so many local nonprofits, so they can fulfill their missions. This is our chance to say thanks to Frank as he drives by.”
Gleason will pass the flag to Lynn Lindsey, of Sidney, who will drive it east along Fair Road to its intersection with Fairington Road in Sidney.
Lindsey represents her father, Robert Sargeant, who founded Sidney Tool & Die in 1954. Lindsey, herself, was an administrative assistant there for 40 years before her retirement.
Her great-great-grandfather, John Sargeant, was the first child registered as born in Shelby County. That was in 1817.
Her father’s company was begun in a building behind the post office.
“He took a mortgage on the house to buy the first equipment. I remember as a little kid visiting my dad at the shop. From there it moved to Campbell Road. We had parts on the space shuttle,” Lindsey said. The business was sold to DRT Holdings Inc. in 2014.
“I’m very proud of my father’s accomplishments,” she added. “You start a business, and it has a real ripple effect. You think about employees, suppliers and outside services people. They also are the founders of Bensar Developments. There’s been quite a ripple effect.”
Lindsey will pass the flag to Julie and Matt Gilardi, of Sidney, who will drive it northeast along
Fair Road, then north on Highland Avenue to the entrance to the Shelby County Fairgrounds.
According to Julie, Matteo Gilardi settled in Sidney in 1896 but then went to St. Louis. He returned in 1911, fathered 10 children and started a produce business.
“He was a great-grandfather to Matt. He would walk around with a basket and sell produce,” Julie said. Matt’s grandfather, Tony, opened a restaurant and began to make pizzas in the 1950s.
“People used to think Gilardi’s Pizza was the best in town. They were the first ones to have it,” Julie added. “It’s an honor to be able to have the Gilardi name represented in this flag run. It went from a little restaurant to a huge, international pizza company.”
The Gilardis will pass the flag to Steve Wagner, of Sidney, who will drive it northeast along Fair Road, then east on Water Street and north Main Avenue to the east side of the courthouse.
Wagner, a city councilman and fifth-generation Sidneyite, is descended from Mathais Wagner, who operated the Sidney Arcade, a downtown grocery, and raised beef, after emigrating from Alsace-Lorraine in Europe. Steve’s great-grandfather, B.P., and Milton Wagner started Wagner Mfg. in 1891. Its cast iron cookware and hollowware and cast aluminum cookware became world famous. Family members also built many houses in the town and ran Wagner Park Nursery, a company that grew flowers and plants that were shipped around the globe.
“It’s a deep honor to be asked to do (the flag run), especially with my involvement with city council. Wagners have contributed to Sidney with time and treasure. I’m honored to be part of another generation of Wagners that have given back to Sidney,” Wagner said.
Wagner will place the flag in a tent at the public entrance to the courthouse. At 8:30 p.m., Robert Geuy, of rural southern Shelby County, will carry the flag into the courthouse where the Bicentennial Ball will be in progress. Geuy, the county engineer, has been employed by Shelby County longer than any other county worker.
“In May, it will be 40 years,” he said. “I started out as chief deputy engineer, working with Steve Huddell for 19 years. I was appointed engineer, July 1, 1999, and ran for office five times. I plan to run for a sixth term on the March primary ballot.”
Geuy will present the county flag to Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst as a symbolic opening to celebrations marking Sidney’s bicentennial, which is this year.
Tickets to the Bicentennial Ball cost $75 and are available by calling Sidney Alive at 937-658-6945.
For information about the flag run, call 937-498-1653.