Butler County ghost town hosted a world boxing championship

Butler County Connect – Staff Report

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio – Butler County, Ohio once hosted a world heavyweight boxing match. Was it in Hamilton? Fairfield? Middletown? Try none of the above! In 1867, the town of Busenbark hosted a legendary match between Mike McCoole and Aaron Jones.

Never heard of “Busenbark?” That’s because it doesn’t exist anymore.

Located near the current site of Edgewood High School in St. Clair Township, the community of Busenbark was once home to a sizeable population of citizens, and was home to a train depot, a warehouse, a water pump station, and a grain elevator. Busenbark was also home to the Richter family farm. The seismologist Charles Richter, who invented the Richter scale for measuring earthquakes, was born and raised on this farm. 

Boxer Mike McCoole. By St. Louis Post Dispatch Newspaper artist – Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 27 Feb 1899, Mon, Page 8, PD-US-expired, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61498151

Fought on August 31, 1867, the Busenbark fight was held during a time when boxing was illegal in the State of Ohio. Nevertheless, promoters held the fight, and McCoole won in 34 rounds. Jones received broken ribs and a concussion from the fight but recovered enough to rematch McCoole the next month.

Today, the old farmstead is still in use. Otherwise, all that remains are the stories and tales of the legendary ghost town that is Busenbark.

Perhaps the best-known event to take place in Busenbark, however, is the infamous bare-knuckle fight between Mike McCoole and Aaron Jones. Held at the Richter farm, the event attracted over 3,500 spectators from the surrounding area. According to a historical account, locals had never seen so many passengers getting off at the train station, and knew a spectacle was to come.