There’s a nearly 70 year old sports stag thrown every year at the clubhouse of an organization called the Southern Ohio Dog and Game Protective Organization in Butler County. I’ve been hearing about it for over a decade and it is one of the oldest continually operating sports stags in Greater Cincinnati. One of my good friend’s father has gone to it for over 20 years and took his son and sons-in-law. I’ve have heard some of the epic tales of the event. Tickets are limited and you have to have a tie to one of the members, who in turn must be sponsored by two current members and pay annual dues of only $40. Although there’s food at the stag, it’s more about playing cards and drinking beer with your buds and relatives.
One dish that has been at the event since its inception about 1950 is mock turtle soup. In earlier days it was made by members, but now it’s premade Worthmore Mock Turtle Soup, which is a decent sub. A menu of the 1952 stag in the Cincinnati Enquirer read: “turtle soup, corn on the cob, spare ribs, ham, fried chicken and other solid delicacies near to the male heart, and plenty of suds to wash it down with.” Today those suds are Miller High Life, but originally they were Bruckman and Hudepohl.
The clubhouse is on the farm acquired by the group in the Spring of 1941 from Scribe’s Picnic Grove, at East Miami River Road between Venice and New Baltimore in Butler County. They have a fishing lake that was once stocked with Walleye and several hundred acres where game and deer roam free and where many game related sporting events are staged. Before they bought the farm the club met and had events at the Farmer’s Union Hall in Peach Grove at Blue Rock and Springdale.
The club was incorporated in 1931, but had events starting in 1927. Founding members of the club had ties to the Cumminsville Turners, the North Cincinnati Turners (in Clifton), and the Central Turners (in Over-the-Rhine, now in Springdale). The Turners were a network of German sport and social clubs founded in 1848 right here in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood by Germanic immigrants. The movement spread all across America’s Germanic immigrant settlements, but was cut at the heels by the anti-German sentiment of World War I. Many of the Turner organizations that survived World War II became mostly Americanized bowling, softball, and volleyball clubs. The original gymnastics and Germanic cultural aspects were almost gone.
In an effort to keep the sporting aspects and male fellowship of the Turners going, and to keep some Germanic customs alive, but in a more American or patriotic setting, former members formed other offshoot clubs like this one. One of the founding members was William Bruckman, who’s father was founder of Bruckman Brewery and President for many years of the Cumminsville Turners. William had been a Cumminsville Turner in his youth and a member of an offshoot group, the Northside Fishing Club. Another founding member was Robert Eiselein, who’s uncle Josef Eiselein had been a founding member of the Cumminsville Turners and whose father-in-law George Dorman was also a Cumminsville Turner. Edward Brendamour, another founding member, whose family owned Brendamour Sporting Goods, was a member of the North Turners.
In 1947 the Ohio Dog and Game Protective Organization provided for stocking of the lake for a fishing program for kids at Inwood Park in Corryville, which was a popular Cincinnati Turner Club Park. The Central Turners had dedicated a monument there to Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who was the founder of the German Turner movement near Berlin, Germany in 1814 during the Napoleonic wars. That monument still stands at Inwood and was vandalized during World War I at the height of anti-German sentiment.
The club’s first event was the Sporting Dog Bench Show in 1927, which was sanctioned by the American Kennel Club . Over the years they added a Coon Dog Field Test, a Turkey Shoot, a Fall Sportsman Show, an Archery Competition, a Boy and Girl Dog Parade, a Public Fishing Tournament, and a 6 Mile Handicap Walking Tournament.
The founding president was Cincinnati Judge Ferd Bader, Jr., who lobbied locally on many wildlife conservation issues. One of his big wins was the release in 1953 of 800 mature cock pheasants in Hamilton county for pheasant hunting season. Ferd Sr., his father was a long time Hamilton County Sheriff and former superintendant of the old Cincinnati Workhouse. Cumminsville Turner Fitness instructor Robert Gulow was the Fitness Instructor for the Cincinnati Police Force and designed their fitness programs at the time when Ferd Bader Sr. was sheriff.
It remains to be seen if the current crisis will cancel this year’s stag, because it’s not at all about social distancing.