EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
A Findlay student of 18 years was the recipient of a Bronze Carnegie Medal and the sum of $1,000 back in 1915 when he rescued three girls from drowning at the bathing beach at Riverside Park. He was J. Homer Oman, son of Mr. and Mrs. G.W. Oman.
Awards for acts of heroism are made by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, of Pittsburgh, Pa. The fund was established by Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate.
J. Homer Oman was the only Findlay man to ever receive one of the Carnegie medals.
The full story of the Riverside Park rescue is told in the following excerpt from the annual report of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission:
“J. Homer Oman, aged 18, student, saved Ruth E. Roe, Jennie Munro, and Bella L. Johnson, aged 14, 16 and 21 respectively, from drowning, Findlay, Ohio, July 19,1910.
“The girls were bathing in an old reservoir in Riverview Park. They could not swim. Miss Roe and Miss Munro were wading beside a rope marking the limit of wadable water, and Miss Munro slipped into deep water. She pulled Miss Roe with her, and they went beneath the surface. Miss Johnson waded to the rope; and when the other girls came up, Miss Roe grabbed her and pulled her into deep water. Miss Munro and Miss Johnson lost consciousness.
“Oman ran about 15 feet to the water and ran through it until it reached his waist; then he dived and swam about 15 feet to the girls. He grasped Miss Roe with one hand and put his other arm around her neck, and he and the girls went beneath the surface. Oman then held to Miss Roe with one hand and swam toward the rope, pulling the girls after him. He swam about 5 feet before he reached water in which he could stand. He waded toward the bank, and another young man joined him and helped in getting the girls to the bank. Miss Johnson and Miss Munro were revived.”
Mr. Oman now (1970) resides in Sarasota, Fla. He left Findlay a number of years ago to reside in the southern state.
He married Dorothy Sutton, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Sutton, of Findlay. The Suttons and the Omans were neighbors on Chamberlin Hill in south Findlay. Mr. Sutton was county auditor of Hancock County shortly after the turn of the 20th century and then became manager of an agricultural test station which the federal and state governments opened on the site of the former Hancock County Fair Grounds, now the Hosafros Addition to Findlay.
Mr. Oman’s father was a retired farmer.
Twice, Findlay entertained the veterans of the Civil War for their annual encampments. The Grand Army of the Republic, the organization of the veterans of the North, came to Findlay around the turn of the century for the week’s reunion. The governor of Ohio and many other notables were here for the occasion.
Then in the late 1920s, the GAR came back for another reunion, in Findlay. By that time, the numbers were fewer and the program was not as elaborate. A few years afterwards, the decision was made to hold no more encampments.
Early in the 1920 decade, the veterans of the 37th Ohio Division in World War I came to Findlay for a reunion. Col. Ralph D. Cole, one of the high-ranking officers of the division, was in charge of the event here. A noted speaker for the occasion was Gen. John J. Pershing, commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe in the war. He spoke at he fairgrounds, then opposite Riverside Park.