Order Your Copy of Historic Clermont County An Illustrated History
Historic Clermont County
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By Howard Miller

From Clermont County, Ohio, 1990; a Collection of Genealogical and Historical Writings (available for purchase from Clermont County Genealogical Society)

Captain Orville Burke, Civil War veteran and associate of General U. S. Grant was a native of the village of Bethel, Ohio. He worked for Jesse Grant's tanning business in Bethel.

Orville had two sons, Glenn and Charles. These two lads worked together buying and selling real estate. Glenn amassed a considerable fortune in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. In 1922 Glenn Burke donated six acres of land in the heart of Bethel for a park. A professional ball player, last name Fosyl, complained to Glenn that there should be additional ground for a baseball diamond. The land situated so that the park and diamond were a tract of land of 12 acres.

Glenn died in 1966 in 1966 willing the village a sum amounting to close to a half million dollars, interest to provide scholarships for lads and lassies who wished to attend college. There is a committee in Bethel that administrates this fund to this day. In addition, Glenn donated close to another half million dollars to organize and build a hospital for Clermont County. With this money to start with, a hospital was built for the county, and is known as Mercy hospital operated by the "Sisters of Mercy" completed in 1976.

Charles Burke was connected with the Baptist College at Granville, Ohio as an administrator, and between the two brothers gave many fine works of art to the Art Department of the College. It is said that Charles is buried on the grounds of the college, dying in 1937. Glenn and his wife are buried in Bethel.

In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps, administered by the U. S. Army, entered into a lease of the Burke Park land for CCC Camp. Four barracks, a mess hall, administrative building, recreational hall, officers quarters and supervisors quarters were built. A company of 250 enrollees were shipped into the camp; their official designation was CCC Company 528. This company of men under the supervision of the Soil Conservation Service and Foresters, worked on many of the farms in Clermont County planting trees, putting in rock dams to avoid soil erosion. At time, they also had to work putting out grass fires in the hot summers. An outstanding time came on Jan. 19, 1937, when the men under the Camp Commander evacuated the people on New Richmond, Ohio and surrounding territory from the devastating flood of that year. They performed many duties during this trying time, their last day of flood duty being March 6, 1937.

I was assigned by the U. S. Army, at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, in 1935 to assume command of this company and camp. Sometime later in 1937, I was ordered to disband the camp and transfer the men to other companies.

As to the park, all buildings were given to the village, everything but the officers quarters were torn down, and the park was again placed back into a recreation area, and ball field.

The Works Progress Administration had completed a stone shelter before the CCC Camp was established. This is still standing with other recreation facilities. The only thing indicating a CCC Camp had existed there are two stone pillars, erected by the CCC enrollees, at the one entrance. One is lettered in stone US CCC and the other is lettered CCC Co. 528.