Ohio History Journal

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James McBride: Historian and

Archaeologist of the Miami Valley




James McBride of Hamilton, Ohio, was a man of many parts. At various

junctures of his busy life, McBride's multifarious activities embraced mer-

chandising, architecture, banking, civil engineering, and several avenues of

public service. As respectable as those attainments were, however, his most

enduring contributions were made as an amateur historian and archaeologist.

McBride is a prime example of the antiquarian chronicler, of which the nine-

teenth century provides so numerous and significant an offering. Those dili-

gent investigators dedicated themselves to the collection of original historical

and archaeological materials with an enthusiasm and single-mindedness of

purpose that command respect and admiration. As a chronicler of early set-

tlement in the Miami Valley and a surveyor and mapper of prehistoric Indian

sites, McBride made significant contributions to Ohio history and archaeol-

ogy. Indeed, the value of his researches in these fields led several of his con-

temporaries and successors to lament that he has received less recognition

than is his due.1

Those contributions were both numerous and significant. Excerpts from

McBride's manuscripts relating to the early history of the Miami Valley were

published in Henry Howe's Historical Collections of Ohio (1847), and his ar-

chaeological surveys, field notes, and drawings of artifacts form a conspicuous

feature of Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis's Ancient

Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (1848).       McBride's extensive

manuscript materials also resulted in the posthumous publication of his two-

volume Pioneer Biography (1869, 1871) and his brief Notes on Hamilton

(1898). A charter member of the Historical and Philosophical Society of

Ohio, his career closely parallels the local history movement of the 1830s and



Terry A. Barnhart is a curator of history with the Ohio Historical Society and an adjunct

faculty member in the history department at Otterbein College.


1. Francis Richard Gilmore, "James McBride" (M.A. thesis, Miami University, 1952), 85;

John Ewing Bradford, ed., "The James McBride Manuscripts: Selections Relating to the Miami

University," Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, 4

(January-March, 1909), 4; A History and Biographical Cyclopeadia of Butler County, Ohio

(Cincinnati, 1882), 170; and Laura McBride Stembel, "James McBride" in James McBride,

Pioneer Biography: Sketches of the Lives of Some of the Early Settlers of Butler County, Ohio, 1

(Cincinnati, 1869), ix.