Students in Sara Olding’s Senior English classes at Sidney High School partnered with the Shelby County Historical Society to explore the stories of early residents and visionaries of Sidney, Ohio. Turning their research into writing, they spent time “Learning About Legacy.”
SIDNEY — Most people know where Julia Lamb Field is located in Sidney. Depending on how old you are, you might even remember watching Friday night football games there. What you may not know is who designated that land for use and why. The answer to that question is Julia A. Lamb. Lamb was born on a farm in Salem Township about two miles from Port Jefferson on July 13, 1824.
The youngest of 11 children, her parents were Samuel and Elizabeth Taylor who came to Ohio from Virginia in 1812. After her marriage to James Lamb in 1843, Lamb settled in the budding town of Sidney. Sidney, Ohio, was only 20 years old when the Lambs arrived to start their lives. It was mostly farms and dirt roads. The courthouse wasn’t even built yet.
Her husband, James Lamb, made his fortune in manufacturing and farm ownership. In 1870 he became the first president of Citizens Bank, solidifying him as a strategic business man for his time. They were active members of the community and contributors in the building of the Presbyterian Church. They were both interested in public service.
Mrs. Lamb sought ways to serve her community. During the Civil War many soldiers from the Sidney area were in desperate need of supplies such as clothing and bandages. Often during this time in history soldiers depended on the kindness of their hometown residents to purchase and send needed supplies. Julia Lamb, along with 75 other women, formed the Christian Ladies Aid Commission. They held milk and mash suppers and children’s festivals to raise funds to purchase supplies for the soldiers. They worked hard to get the supplies to the men, especially those hospitalized at the time.
After her husband’s death she continued to work to create a better hometown for her community. Having acquired some wealth, Lamb decided that she would use it to meet the needs of her community. Even though she never had any children of her own, Lamb had deep love for children and cared for their welfare. This is why when she was 90 years old she purchased land and donated it to be used specifically for children. She envisioned the space to be used as playground. Her only condition with her substantial donation was that it would forever be used as a place for children to gather and play. In her late 90’s she was known to walk from her home about a few blocks away to watch the children play on the land she donated.
In later years, the land was used as an athletic complex by Sidney High School. It became known as Julia Lamb Field. Her legacy is that today this land is still reserved as a place for children and others to gather and play or exercise. Over 100 years after her donation of land, Julia Lamb is still impacting our community.
As a young woman just beginning my life as an adult I think there is a lot I can learn from Julia Lamb. Lamb not only donated land, she made sure that it could only be used for children. During a time when most women were not included in business or community decisions, she was a woman with vision and a plan. She wanted to be sure that even long after she was gone that the land would still be in use for children. She has taught me that I should strive to create a long term impact rather than only a short term one. A powerful and selfless legacy exists in giving so that future generations can benefit, even when you will not be alive to see it.
The writer is the daughter of Tish Icenogle. A 2018 graduate of Sidney High School, she plans to study Early Childhood Development at Edison Community College next year.