Most of the land for Darrell Joyce Park -- 227 of the current 313 acres -- was a gift to the city of Hamilton in 1955 from Henrietta Joyce, the widow of the man for whom it is named.

Darrell Joyce was a native of Butler County, having been born in Venice March 12, 1874, the son of Major Robert Joyce and Isabella Townsend Joyce. His father was a veteran of the Civil War, having fought in the Union army; and was also for many years one of the outstanding republican leaders of this county, altho his son, in his more mature years, cast his lot with the democratic party.

Mr. Joyce received his early education in the public schools of the county, attending the school in Venice. Following this he for several years taught in the rural schools of the county but eventually entered Miami University in 1900 and was graduated in 1903. During his student days at the University he was one of the most popular young men on campus and an active member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Possessing a powerful phy...

As we prepare to break ground on Marcum Park this spring, an article from the Hamilton Evening Journal from February 1, 1916 reminds us that our city has long had the yearning for a garden spot on the river.

As the article notes, the plans for this park included a bandstand just a block or so away from where our RiversEdge Amphitheater now draws thousands of citizens for concerts and programs.

Plans for this proposed park were short-lived, however, as the site would be excavated for the widening of the river channel, and at a meeting two days later, Miami Conservancy Engineer Arthur Morgan put the kibosh on it.

Here is the complete text of the article and a description of the imagined park:

J.E. Freudenberger, landscape architect of Dayton, has just completed an elaborate plan for a park system in Hamilton, which was submitted during the last week to the commission in the Butler County capital, named for the purpose of preparing a plan for the adornment of the Miami River Bank north of the...

James Combs Park honors local hero of March 1961 accident in the river

By Jim Blount


July 10, 1996

   A 65-acre Hamilton Municipal Park on the west side of the Great Miami River east of North B Street bears the name of the late James Combs, one of several heroes who responded to a river accident Wednesday afternoon, March 15, 1961.

   The drama began when a boat operated by Donald Cornette, 25, of Ridgelawn Avenue, and containing his three-year-old son, Gregory; and David Van Oflen, also 3 and of Ridgelawn Avenue, stalled above the dam north of the Black Street Bridge.

   The small craft drifted toward the dam. Cornette grabbed both boys as they were carried over the dam. The trio was momentarily caught in a whirlpool below the apron of the dam. With help, Cornette and his son quickly escaped from the swift, near-freezing water, but the Van Oflen boy was pulled downstream by the current.

   Cornette believed he had been assisted by Combs, 25, also a resident of Rid...

While rummaging through the files at the Butler County Historical Society, we ran across some old photos of Hamilton parks.

If you have any old family photos taken in our parks, please send a copy to We'd love to see and share them!

While digging into the history of the parks in Hamilton, we stumbled upon this little gem of an editorial in the August 12, 1925 edition of the Hamilton Daily News:

Hamilton is a place of beauty and therefore a joy forever, at least in her many little gardens of Eden such as greet the eye at the Monument, City Building, Greenwood and the Fairgrounds and in other miniatures of Paradise about the city.

Whatever else may be said of Hamilton, it is noted for its little parks and especially for the artistic care taken of them. If this city had men in other capacities like Mr. L.J. Smith the Superintendent of Parks, it would be an ideal place indeed.

If other boards had such spirited citizens as those serving on the park commission without compensation, then the city would be cleaned up and be a place of beauty, morally and every other way. The services of Sam D. Fitton and Abraham Ballinger on the park commission are growing monuments in their honor. Fred G. Mueller served with both of tho...

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