Bond Hill and the Panic of 1873

Here’s a question to add to the list of mysteries left unresearched by my master’s thesis on the origin and transformation of Bond Hill: how was the housing cooperative and building association impacted by the financial crash and panic of 1873 and the resulting depression? There were hints of decline but I could only speculate as to their cause. Now I’m reading this article by historian Scott Reynolds Nelson, “The Real Great Depression” and I am seeing for the first time the hurt initially felt by the railroads and their investors. Given that Bond Hill was likely developed with the help of the Cincinnati-Marietta Railroad Company along the Loveland line built in the 1860s (and financed by railroad bonds) and the great faith in the railroad exhibited in the real estate literature preceding the crash, I am even more curious now how the bank crash immediately impacted Bond Hill’s nascent housing cooperative and building association — the repository of its investment capital.

And while I’m wondering, wouldn’t it be interesting if Bond Hill wasn’t named after some apocryphal Bond’s Mill (as George Patmor explains in his oral history) or even after a Colonel Bond who was active in promoting new railroads through Cincinnati and its environs (including the Mill Creek Valley next to Bond Hill). Perhaps, Bond Hill was named after the railroad bonds used that the Cincinnati-Marietta Railroad Company sold in order to aquire the land for its right-of-way? Since the newspapers of the time parrot the Bond Hill developers in stating that the name “Bond Hill” was an older place name the building association had rehabilitated, and since there’s no record on old maps or land title records of that name in use, I’m left with the feeling that Bond Hill was a catchy name that was invented when other new suburban names such as “Pleasant Hill” and “Price Hill” were in vogue. The test of this would be to look at the archives of the St. Aloysius Orphanage (established in 1860) to see whether the name was in use in any of its founding documents. I have a record of calling the current incarnation of St. Aloysius concerning the location of their archives but I failed to follow up before my thesis was due. For folk interested in Bond Hill history, taking a look at what the orphanage might have in is archive should be high on their list of research projects — right next to locating the business records of the Cincinnati-Marietta Railroad Company.

About Aharon N. Varady

Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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