‘The Clinton County Country Club’


Jonathan McKay - Contributing columnist



When you think of a country club you think of golf, swimming pools, a clubhouse, a pro shop, or tables covered with white linens.

You think of names like Kenwood, Shinnecock Hills, Pine Valley and, of course, Augusta National.

Tucked away in Green Township you’ll find Clinton County’s very own country club that has stood the test of time – Snow Hill Country Club.

Snow Hill has been a golf course since 1924 and has seen numerous changes, but it wasn’t always a place to play golf.

The family of Nancy Harris owned the ground when it was a stagecoach stop between Chillicothe and Cincinnati. Relay teams of horses were kept in the barn and food was served.

Nancy wanted more, though, so when she was old enough, she moved to Cincinnati and took a job at Cary Manufacturing. Phillip Cary, the owner, took a liking to Nancy and one day proposed to her.

She turned him down. She pointed to a young man named George Cabbs and said, “I am going to marry him”. According to eyewitness accounts, Mr. Cary walked out, went to his lawyer’s office, changed his will, and then went home and committed suicide.

Nancy and George became the owners of the factory because of the changes Phillip made to his will.

George Cabbs became very wealthy and was a driving force behind the building of Union Terminal.

Behind George stood Nancy. She wanted to have a golf course as the sport was becoming ever more popular at the turn of the century. She turned her old family stagecoach stop into what was to become the social setting of Clinton County.

Talk around Clinton County was spreading fast. People with the names of Cartwright, Denver, and Mitchell were very excited. Nancy bought 15 acres, renovated and furnished the clubhouse, paid for the taxes and insurance on the property, and rented it for $300 a month.

A meeting was held at the Commercial Club in Wilmington and M.R. Denver presided over the meeting. It was decided that shares of stock would be issued, and they would cost $100 each — a tidy sum then. A charter was formed, Stacy Mitchell would be the first president, and Snow Hill was born.

Nancy spent the summer of 1924 renovating the clubhouse. Some nights she would stay in the clubhouse or spend the evening eating a meal with Albert Roberts, a friend of the family, who happened to live just across the road. She furnished it with antiques, refinished the hardwood floors, painted the outside, and did many other updates.

People by the name of Procter, Nippert, and Gamble would come and play golf, but mostly it was Clinton County natives. Some charter members included Harold Garrison of Blanchester and Sheldon Shrieves, who were both members until they passed.

The club flourished as people joined from all over the county. Parties and tournaments were held. People by the names of Monte Haidet, Earle F. Claibourne, Frank Casey, Allen McKay, and Jack Carter were some of the earliest presidents of the club and helped it grow.

Doctors, lawyers and farmers all joined. Johnny Lamb was the first pro and held the title from 1926-1934 until Robert Lindenschmit took over. Glenn Murphy held the title of Men’s Golf Champion for many years. Ruth Molyneaux was the first women’s champion in 1929.

Maud Ault won a total of five women’s championships, which she came close to losing to Ada Carter, who won four of them.

The club had everything you could want — a 9-hole golf course, clubhouse, tennis courts and even a swimming pool.

The pool took on a life of its own. Many of members’ children would learn to swim in that pool. The frigid water would turn your lips blue from early May to July as the pool was not heated. It was filled with well water and somehow always seemed to be leaking. Glenn Bumgarner, Rod McKay, Cindy Camp, Nick Eveland, Rachel Boyd, Tom McNeil, Barbra Swisshelm, Bill Cowgill, The Lacy Brothers, and countless others would all swim under the watchful eye of lifeguard Dan Buckley.

The parties were a spectacular sight as well — planned by Mrs. Yantes, Mrs. Lane, Mrs. McNeil, Mrs. German, and so many more. In 1974, the 50th Anniversary Party was one for the ages. A firsthand account from the records at the Clinton County History Center said there was nothing left to drink after the party except water.

Spring dances, winter formals and the Pot of Gold tournament weekend were some of the best. The food was prepared by Mrs. Leo “Faye” Pitzer. “She did it all,” said one club member in the 1974 board of director’s minutes.

Snow Hill has changed a lot since those days. It is now a combination of public and private golf course. It is still known though for what it was meant for, and that is golf. Bobby Henderson has seen to that.

700WLW radio host Bill Cunningham has played Snow Hill and saidon the air that it’s a beautiful course. Most of the names above have been forgotten by many and the name that started it all, Nancy Cabbs, has most certainly faded into history.

New names, though, are always appearing — Snow, Sodini, Rowsey, Conley, Dunn, McDermott, Breckel, and so on.

Nancy would be impressed by what her vision was and what has been built on it.

After all, a bad day on the golf course is still better than a good day at the office.

Jonathan McKay is a Clinton County native and a current member of Wilmington City Council.

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Jonathan McKay

Contributing columnist