Misspelling or Wishful Thinking?
Posted On: 08/18/2017 - 1:54pm, Posted By: Christine Engels, Archives Manager, Manuscripts Department
Henry Probasco (1820-1902), began his career in Cincinnati in his brother-in-law's, Tyler Davidson, hardware store. After Tyler Davidson's death, Probasco bought the store and later sold it to devote himself to investments and philanthropic works. He is most famous for his donation of the Tyler Davidson Fountain on Fountain Square in Cincinnati in 1871. In addition to this and other gifts to the city like the Probasco Fountain in Clifton, he also was the second president of the Spring Grove Cemetery Association and president of the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Orphan Asylum. He was associated with many charitable endeavors throughout his life and was a member of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History and served on the Clifton Village Council.
This book of Probasco’s is mostly empty but does list some of his financial expenditures, including taxes he paid, charities he donated to and donations he collected for an unnamed charity. The eye-catcher in this list “Monies donated since 1st Jany 1866” is in the middle of the page noting 100 from a Samuel Clements. The name is so tantalizingly close to that of the author Samuel Clemens, better known under his pen name of Mark Twain, that it makes one wonder if it’s a misspelling or just someone with a similar name. The rest of the Probasco archives is silent on this account. Though there are many Clements in the city directories no Samuel is to be found near 1866, though perhaps this donor did not live in Cincinnati.
Regardless of any connections to a famous author, it’s a lovely leather-bound book with a charming lock and key that belonged to one of Cincinnati’s most generous citizens.