13 December 2010

A Ghost Sign and So Much More

This is a ghost sign in the industrial part of the West End:


What intrigues me about ghost signs is that they are snippets of history that leaked through time. In a way, they offer a title that makes one wonder what the story was at that place in another time.

Thanks to the Cincinnati Historical Society archives, I found out that this was the home of the Werk Soap Company (barely readable at the top) around the turn of the century. Here is what prominent Cincinnatian Cornelius Hauck said about the area in his 1965 "Memories of Dayton Street" talk:

This area was the scene of the celebrated "Tanyard Murder Case," which brought fame to Lafcadio Hearn, the new reporter for the Commercial. Many remember the old Michael Werk home on the southwest corner there, where his friends gathered on weekends to taste his "Nue-wine" (new wine), made from his own grape arbors. The soap and candle industry then used the by-products from the meat-packing plants... (soap & candles were made from animal fats back then)

It was a dream of many a youngster watching the cattle driven past his house in those days, to have the position of the driver of the "hog-wagon" at the end of a drove. He rode tall and erect on a high, front seat, wearing an old army uniform, with a large, colored cockade on his high hat. He was ever ready to pick up any squealing tired hog that could not make it to the packing yards below Dayton Street.

It's cool to be in that area, now home to Ollie's Trolley and the Samuel Adams brewery, and imagine hogs being driven through the streets while neighbors enjoyed their wine party. And the Tanyard Murder Case? WOW.


VisuaLingual said...


Mark said...

UC professor Jon Hughes wrote a radio play about the Tanyard Murder if any Lafcadio Hearn fans want to check it out.

Anonymous said...

What is the address of the building that has the barely readable advertisement for Werk soap? I would love to go by and take some photos to share with two Werk descendants that I know.