Governor Bebb Metropark located in Butler County Ohio. Photo credit: E. Todd Fowler

Local History in Butler County – William Bebb

Known as a Whig Politician and the 19th Governor of Ohio, William Bebb is a famous Butler County native.

Early Beginnings in Butler County.

William Bebb was born on December 8th, 1802. In what was then known as Paddy’s Run, in the northern part of Hamilton County, Ohio. William Bebb was the first of three children, his parents Edward Bebb and Margaret Roberts Owens were some of the early residents in the small town of Paddy’s Run. Today, it is known as the town of Shandon in Butler County, Ohio.

When William Bebb was around twenty years old, he started a teaching job in the city of North Bend, Ohio. This is where he met Sarah Shuck, who was teaching at the same school. The couple married on October, 16th, 1824. Two years later in 1826, Paddy’s Run opened its first School building under the new state law and hired William Bebb as the first teacher.

After two years of teaching, William Bebb and Sarah Shuck opened their own boarding school called “Sycamore Grove School for Boys”. The school was located on Edward Bebb’s farmland in Paddy’s Run. The school was extremely successful and attracted several students from the Cincinnati area.  The most famous of these students included a future governor of Ohio, William Dennison. While teaching at the boarding school, William Bebb began studying Law. After passing the bar in 1832, William Bebb decided to close the school and pursue his Law career.

The 19th Governor of Ohio.

William Bebb began practicing Law in Hamilton, Ohio.  He was the first in the office of John Woods and became a junior partner of John M. Millikin. At this time, William Bebb started expressing interest in politics and started to affiliate himself with the Whig party. 

In 1846, The Whig party nominated William Bebb for the governorship of Ohio.  William Bebb served a single term as the 19th Governor of Ohio from December 1846 to January 1849. It is noted that he reduced the state’s debt during his administration.

Manslaughter and retirement.

After retiring from politics, William Bebb moved his family to a farm near Rockford, Illinois. In 1857, it was reported that William Bebb fired a gun at a group of men celebrating his second son’s marriage and accidentally killed a man. He was eventually tried in the Winnebago County, Illinois Circuit Court in 1858 and later acquitted for manslaughter.

After the trial, William Bebb was still actively involved in several projects. He helped a group of Welsh immigrants build a community in Tennessee in the 1850s and served as an examiner in the pension office in Washington, DC. After the war, William Bebb returned to Illinois until he passed away on October 23, 1873. He now lies at rest the Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois.

You can visit William Bebb’s birthplace in Butler County! At the Governor Bebb Preserve, Butler County Metro Parks, 1979 Beeb Park Lane, Morgan Township off St Rt.

Learn more about Butler County Ohio trails at this link

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