LOOKING BACK: Part one of Herma Chafin Ogle’s story

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of the Herma Chafin Ogle story that began in Brown County on Jan. 6, 1881 — the year the president was inaugurated following the election of 1880.

Population of the county in 1880 was 10,264 — up from an estimated 150 in 1830, two generations before. The 1880 figure is also about 1,000 more than the county recorded in the 1870 census, although projections have placed the number of residents, now, at around 10,000 again. The 2019 population of Brown County was 15,092. In 2010 the population was 15,242.

In 1881, the present log jail had just been constructed and the present courthouse was only six years old. The town of Nashville had been incorporated nine years earlier. Tills were still being collected on the new road between Nashville and Georgetown (Bean Blossom).

The Brown County recorder in 1881 was Isaac Chafin, father of Herma, who was serving his second term. His parents, natives of Kentucky, had settled in Brown County in 1843. Isaac was born in 1849.

Mr. Chafin was described in an 1884 biographical sketch as a “public spirited and loyal citizen” who ran a productive farm, taught school and owned property in Nashville. In 1878 he married another native Brown Countian, Mary Catherine Woods. Herma was the second of the couple’s 10 children.

About this time, it was written of Nashville, “It may be said in truth that the metropolis of Brown County contains some of the best citizens of the state. The society is good, morals are observed, schools are well attended and the citizens indicate refinement and culture.”

Herma Chafin was born in Nashville, in a house “on the corner below the Christian church.” The family moved to a farm when Herma was 5 years old and the house later burned. She thinks it had become an office building by that time.

Mr. Chafin was active in the Democratic politics in addition to terms as county recorder, Justice of the Peace and in other elected jobs.

He also was briefly a publisher of the Brown County Democrat. In February 1883, Chafin and William M. Waltman founded The Democrat and in March 1883, bought the office of the Jacksonian assuming the name of the Jacksonian Democrat. The Jacksonian had been founded in 1870.

In this short period of time, however, W. W. Browning bought Chafin’s interest in the paper. During the consolidation year of 1883, there are five persons listed as having been publishers of the journal, including Isaac Chafin.

There were 12 in the Chafin family. Herma had two sisters and seven brothers, two of whom died in infancy. Her youngest sister Florence “Flossie” Jones, died over a year ago. Florence had lived in California most of her life.

Herma first attended school near her farm home. She went to the old Tull building. It was located next to the Charles Wrightsman property on State Road 46 East. When the family returned to Nashville in the early 1890s, she attended School No. 2, which accommodated the fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

There was no business career for Herma Chafin. “There weren’t job opportunities for women in those days as there are now,” she said.

She remembers helping out in the homes of friends and neighbors during illness or other emergencies, sometimes staying a week or two at a time.

Nor did Herma have any youthful hobbies. “In such a big family,” she said. “There was lots of work. When my father’s health failed, he couldn’t do manual labor. It was all up to the kids.”

Because her father was in public life, Herma became community oriented at an early age. She remembers that one year she helped pre-register school children. That required canvassers to visit every home in the county, sometimes having to travel almost impassable roads. But a horse and a buggy could go places today’s motor cars can’t.

On one registration excursion she had to ford a creek where there was no bridge. The horse and buggy got through, but the water was so high it “came clear up in the seat.” Herma was soaked. She went to afriend’s house nearby and borrowed dry clothes. Then she set out again to complete the registration chore.

One of her clearest memories is the original Nashville House.

”It don’t look near as nice as it used to,” she said.

The front was facing the courthouse and it had steps clear across the front. On court days, Mrs. Hampton would come out on the steps and ring a bell so people would know it was mealtime.”

Herma Chafin was married to a blacksmith and farmer, Connor Ogle, who died at the age of 92. She still lived in the white frame cottage they built years ago on the west side of Johnson Street; two houses north of the intersection with West Main. There had been no dwellings in that entire block when she was a child.

The Ogles had three sons and Clarence was the oldest. He lived to be 52. Warren Ogle was a retired school superintendent, married with two children. Wayne Ogle was single and lived near his mother. Wayne owned downtown Nashville property along with a lawnmower sales and repair shop he operated along State Road 46 East.

Conner Ogle also engaged in politics and held county office. He was Brown County recorder before he entered semi-retirement and returned to blacksmithing “just a little bit,” according to his wife.

“By that time there weren’t so many horses to shoe,” she said.

For a blacksmith, Conner Ogle accepted the automobile enthusiastically.

“He loved to drive. He kept it up until he was 86 or 87. It was a great blow to him when he had to quit,” she said.

She said the two of them used the car frequently to visit neighbors and friends as well as several churches in the area.

Conor and Herma first attended a local Baptist church before they moved closer to the Church of Christ of Pike’s Peak. That was the last regular church they attended regularly. Herma said Warren and his family still belong.

At the Pike’s Peak Church, the Ogles met many people from Columbus and she became well acquainted with Bartholomew County families. She eagerly read a Columbus newspaper daily. People in the Brown County Democrat, she did not know at all. Mrs. Ogle followed some national news, including the Watergate investigation, and read about school and community affairs.

Submitted by Pauline Hoover, the Brown County Historical Society