August Hauer

“If they had just had the gall, they could have taken Cincinnati in a minute.”

The man who said that was talking about war . . .not the war you are thinking about, for the one he was referring to and the conflict of today have distinct differences . . .in many ways.

Eighty-four-year-old August Hauer was talking about the Civil War, whose proper name in these modern times is termed “The War Between the States.” The date Mr. Haur recalled happens to have been 1863, and not this streamlined era of 1943.

Nice Gentlemen

Yes, as a barefoot boy of four years, he walked through an encampment of about 40,000 Confederate soldiers on the then farming area which is now an exclusive residential section of Kentucky on the Dixie Highway across from Retchulte’s Inn.

Mr. Hauer, whose memory is perfect even down to naming many specific dates, tells of how the “rebel” soldiers had parked their covered wagons on one side of a large pond, and themselves on the other. There was “hardly enough room to walk between the wagons,” the veteran Kenton county resident recalls.

He says the southerners were “nice gentlemen,” and the he and his father, the late Jacob Hauer, would walk through their midst every day and talk to them.

“No Fighting”

The Confederate warriors remained in encampment two or three weeks, then “one morning we got up and they were gone,” Mr. Hauer relates. There wasn’t any fighting in Kenton county during all of the Civil War, but the “Rebels” could have “blown Cincinnati off the face of the earth,” the subject of our interview contends. He explains there was a Fort Mitchell, where Fort Mitchell heights is now, Fort Perry, and another fort or encampment of Northern soldiers near Kyles lane, but the “Yankees” were not at those locations in large numbers. They could have been overpowered by the southerners with very little trouble, he believes.

As he continues to tell of this historical period in America’s struggle to build a sound democracy, Mr. Hauer, who celebrated his 84th birthday lat Friday, relates how a group of Yankee soldiers came to the same camping ground on the Dixie highway where the Southerners had been “three or four days” after the later had departed.

“Yankees Mean”

The Yankee soldiers were “mean,” Mr. Hauer says, as he tells of an incident when one of them deliberately sot one of his father’s chickens and “didn’t even pick it up.” The elder Mr. Hauer had plenty to say about this affair and threatened to report the soldiers to their superiors. He tells of an encampment of Southern soldiers later located on top of the hill back of Sandford on the LLL Highway.

Differences between fighting in Civil War times and the present days are seen as Mr. Hauer describes the weapons used by the soldiers that he viewed as a young boy. Also, they did not carry tents in those days, but instead slept in their covered wagons or on the ground.

Mr. Hauer’s father operated a roadhouse across the Dixie Highway from where the estate of the late George W. Hill, Covington grocer, is located. And Mr. Hauer has a vivid recollection of an occurrence there after the Civil War had ended in 1865.

A group of Negroes, elated over the outcome of the war, rode along the Dixie Highway, then known as the Lexington Turnpike, and brought their horses to a stop in front of the Hauer roadhouse.

Helped Himself

One of them went inside, and when Mr. Hauer was busy with a number of customers in another part of the building, helped himself to a bottle of ale. The customers were men whose occupation was burning charcoal, known as “charcoal burners.” The rushed from the roadhouse and the Negro was made very sorry for his conduct.

Talking of war conditions, Mr. Hauer says, “everything was awfully high” during Civil War days. Flour sold for $16 a barrel. While many products brought excessive prices, he remembers that ale sold for 15 cents a quart and whiskey at 17 cents a gallon…” and, by golly, that was good whiskey,” the subject of our interview aid with a smile and a tone of voice which emphasized the recollections that were his.

The area from Kyles Lane to Erlanger was a farming section in those days, and Mr. Hauer tells of there being only four farms to comprise that area between the lane and what is now the Shinkle property near Dudley Pike. He tells too of many noted characters of that day. Mr. Hauer operated a dairy farm “on the shares” for the late John L Sandford, and was working for him at the time he was shot down by William Goebel, later Kentucky’s martyr governor, on a downtown Covington street.

Recalls Hudson

Among those he remembers was a man named Shelly Hudson, one time operator of a tobacco factory on Madison avenue in Covington. There was a saloon across the street from the factory. Mr. Hudson, known as a “great shot,” saw one man strike another with a bottle of beer, and shot the bottle from his hand before he could do much further damage with it.

And, upon another occasion, Mr. Hudson drove a buggy pulled by two horses through the Cincinnati Arcade in answer to a $500 wager…and then had to pay the entire sum as a fine levied by the Cincinnati authorities.

Jack Leathers was a prominent Kenton countian of those days, owning 3000 acres on both sides of the Dixie Highway and which was later developed into South Fort Mitchell.

Knows the Dates

Mr. Hauer calls off dates of various events just as you would name the date of your own birthday. Did he remember the building of the Southern Railroad? Yes, tht was in 1875. And, Mr. Hauer recalls seeing 50 mules being used in moving dirt along the railroad rights-of-way, none of which had drivers to direct them. The winter of 1882 saw the thermometer drop to 20 degrees below zero, and Mr. Hauer assisted in the storage of ice from the ponds that were frozen to the bottom…with sleds being driven upon them to haul away the ice.

Mr. Hauer, who walked to the Guardian Angels Parochial School in Sandfordtown during his early days, later bought his “old home place” on Horsebranch, and lives there today. He is very active for his age, reads very nicely and has never been aided in this by eyeglasses, and is a constant radio fan…listening all day long sometimes.

Physically Fit

His physical condition is good, except for some annoyance with his legs. . .but this is not unusual considering the fact that buckshot from two shotguns struck those legs at the same time back in 1920. He was hunting with two companions near Richwood, on the Dixie Highway. They both shot at a rabbit, striking Mr. Hauer instead. He remarks, “I could have gotten the rabbit very easily, because he was only fifty yards away.” His lets work alright, but the effects of the injury bring about occasional pains.

Mr. Hauer married Miss Elizabeth Levi. She died in 1904. They had ten children, seven of whom are living. One of these is John Hauer who operated a restaurant and garage at the end of the Ft. Mitchell streetcar line for a number of years. Mr. Hauer, who is careful with his health, says alcoholic beverages have never damaged him. “Whiskey doesn’t hurt anybody if they don’t drink too much of it,” he says. . .and proves it by starting each day with a hot toddy.


Kentucky Post, March 19, 1943, by Joe Johnston, Kentucky Post Staff Writer. The ellipsis (“. . .”) which are usually indicators of cut out text, are, in this case, in the original, and do not represent anything I’ve removed.