From the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce: Piqua Civic Hall of Fame Nominees Announced

Posted on: April 6th, 2017 No Comments


The Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce has announced the nominees for the 2016 Piqua Civic Hall of Fame. The Civic Hall of Fame was established in 1994 to recognize the significant contributions of Piqua citizens. The Piqua Chamber of Commerce is asking for the community to vote to select three deserving individuals to the Hall of Fame. The following six (6) individuals have been nominated and the Chamber is requesting that three (3) nominees be selected. A ballot must be marked with three (3) selections to be counted as a valid ballot.

William Barrington (1796-1844)
Barrington was born in Philadelphia, the son of Irish immigrants and moved to Piqua in 1819. In 1820, Barrington began publishing the Piqua Gazette, the first local newspaper in the area. He stayed in the publishing field until 1840. As an editor, publisher and reporter, Barrington became very involved in early Piqua activities including service as a local militia captain, a founding parish member and clerk of St. James Episcopal Church, a township school board clear and as village mayor (1843-44).

A.G. Conover (1819-1876)
Conover was born in Dayton but moved to Piqua in his twenties. He was a self-educated civil engineer and served as Piqua’s city engineer in the 1850’s and 1860’s. He worked on the Miami & Erie Canal route north of Piqua, the Piqua Hydraulic Canal, the Columbus, Piqua & Indian Railroad and built Conover’s Opera House in 1872 in downtown Piqua. He also helped organize and served as a lieutenant in the local militia unit known as the Piqua Grays.

John Bernard Hemsteger (1827-1878)
He was born in Germany and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1851. He completed his seminary studies in Cincinnati in 1854. He came to Piqua in 1855 as the first assistant pastor to the English mission church (St. Mary’s) before founding the German congregation (St. Boniface) in 1855 and promoting the construction of the first church on Adam Street. Father Hemsteger moved to Columbus in 1859 and became the pastor of Holy Cross Church where he remained until his death. In 1868 he became the first Vicar General of the Columbus diocese.

Thomas C. Harbaugh (1849-1924)
Born in Maryland, in 1851 he moved to Casstown and later spent time in Piqua. He began writing and publishing short stories in 1867, many of which became the grist for the famous “Dime Novels” of the 1890’s. Harbaugh wrote under a number of pseudonyms including, Captain Holmes, Howard Lincoln and Major Scott. Dandy Jack of the Outlaw of the Oregon Trail is an example of one of his dime novels. He died destitute and forgotten in the Miami County Infirmary.

Joseph Martin Kastner (1889-1959)
A Russian immigrant, Kastner came to Piqua in 1913 from Dayton. He established the city’s largest scrap metal yard at the west end of Water Street. He served on the Piqua City Commission from 1957 to 1959. He was instrumental in starting the Piqua Fireman’s Pension Board to ensure decent retirements for local firefighters. He served on the Salvation Army Community Board and on the Board of Directors of the Miami Valley Boy Scouts for twenty-five years.

William Murray Harris (1920-1944)
He was born and raised in Piqua, the son of Rev. D.E. Harris of the Cyrene A.M.E. Church. He graduated from Piqua High School in 1938. He enlisted in 1942 in the Army Air Corps and attended the Tuskegee Air Force School. He was stationed in Italy with the 302nd Fighter Squadron in December of 1943 as a line mechanic. Master Sergeant Harris died in a plane crash in Italy in June of 1944. The first African-American Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post in Piqua was named the Stout-Harris Post.

Ballots can be picked up at the Piqua YWCA, Miami County YMCA, Unity National Bank, US Bank, Mutual Federal Bank, Chase Bank, Miami Valley Centre Mall, Piqua Public Library and the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce Completed ballots must be returned to the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce, 326 N. Main Street or the Piqua Public Library, 116 West High Street by Friday, April 21, 2017. A formal induction ceremony for the newly elected Hall of Fame members will be held on Sunday, April 30, 2017 at the Fort Piqua Plaza beginning at 1:30.

The mission of the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce is to unite the Piqua business community, to enhance the quality of life for our citizens and promote economic vitality and development. Contact the Piqua Area Chamber for information about programs, services, events and membership opportunities or visit


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