Valley View is a broad flat plain that sits at the confluence of the Little Miami and East Fork Rivers. In prehistoric times, that would be the equivalent of sitting at a very busy interstate highway interchange. For thousands of years before early settlers arrived in Milford, Native Americans traveled up and down these rivers, along footpaths and by canoe. The flat land of the Valley View site is just nine miles upstream of the Ohio River which was abundant with game, fish and was ideal for growing crops. In 2006, Valley View engaged Frank L. Cowan, PhD, RPA to complete a Cultural Resources Assessment and Management Plan for our property. Dr. Cowan reported that "The confluence of the East Fork and the Little Miami River is an area of extraordinary concentration of prehistoric sites ranging in age from Paleoindian (ca. 10,000 to 8000 B.C.) to the Late Prehistoric (A.D. 1000 to 1650) periods." We asked Dr. Cowan to evaluate artifact collections of three families who farmed our land for the past 200 years. Several of those artifacts are shown on this page and more can be seen by clicking Read More below. Dr. Cowan found these collections to contain a high concentration of artifacts from the Middle and Late Archaic periods (ca. 6000 - 1000 B.C.). We tilled a small section of the property for Dr. Cowan to investigate. In that small area he found artifacts from the Late Archaic period (ca. 2000 B.C.) and from the Middle Woodland (100 B.C. to A.D. 400). By protecting our property in perpetuity, we hope the site can be used for years to come for further study and education about the ancient history of the area.
Long before Native Americans inhabited Valley View, this property was an ocean floor. The Ordovician Age brachiopod shown above was found in the fields of our property years ago. This brachiopod likely lived 443 to 488 million years ago! Scientists believe that at the time this guy lived in the ocean, our property was located south of the Equator. These odd shaped "horns" are actually fossils. They are remnants of an extinct class of corals also from the Ordovician Age commonly called "rugose coral." these corals lived on the sea floor or in a reef-framework. These corals likely possessed stinging cells to capture prey. They also likely had tentacles to help them catch prey. This unidentified fossilized bone is common in the area.
While Serpent Mound is one of the most famous earthworks in Ohio and the Nation, few know that there was actually a very large bird shaped earthworks (pictured above) in Milford. This "Milford Works" sat on land immediately above Valley View's property. The "tail feathers" of the bird were positioned at the top of the bluff along Gatch Street and South Milford Road above Valley View. General Lytle was the first to survey the Milford Works. In 1803, President Jefferson saw General Lytle's maps of the Milford Works, and became fascinated and requested more information about "Those works of Antiquity." This could explain why Major Isaac Roberdeau, head of the Bureau of Topographical Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came to Milford to personally survey the Milford Works and produced the map above in 1823. Roberdeau assisted in the initial surveying of Washington D.C. in the1790s and surveyed about 900 miles of the U.S.-Canadian border after the war of 1812. Roberdeau's survey which is stored at the National Archives in Alexandria, Virginia, states that "the walls are earth, from 5 to 10 feet high, generally upwards of 30 feet across. No ditches." In 1882, Frederic Ward Putnam, of Harvard's Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, visited the Milford Works. At that time he reported that the square and great circle of the earthwork shown above could still be traced, but that their embankments had been nearly leveled by cultivation. The "singular diverging walls" that were likely on the bluff above Valley View were completely obliterated. We find this rich history of our land tied to the founders of our Nation to be absolutely fascinating.
The Gatch family has lived in Milford for eight generations. The northern portion of Valley View's property is part of the Gatch "Arrowhead Farm." This photo shows the 500-year old burr oak tree that stood in the front yard of the Gatch farmhouse until it was recently destroyed in a storm. The Gatch family farmhouse can be seen in the background of the photo above. The home was built between 1810 and 1826. The Valley View property sits behind the house in this photo. Philip Gatch came to Milford from Maryland in 1799. His nephew Lewis Gatch moved to Milford in 1812. The Gatch Family still has the original Revolutionary War land grant signed by President Thomas Jefferson and then Secretary of State James Madison for much of the land that is now downtown Milford. Over the years, the Gatches have been a part of Milford, Ohio and United States history. Philip Gatch was a legendary frontier Methodist preacher. He was so well known that his biography was drafted in 1851 by U.S. Supreme Court Justice John McLean who wrote the anti-slavery dissent in the Dred Scott case. The two youngest sons of Lewis Gatch were at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. on April 14, 1865 when President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. One of the brothers, Dr. Davenport Gatch, was one of the first to reach the President and tend to his mortal wound.
A Gatch Family Reunion in 1891. The stone house sits atop the hill and the photographer who took this photo was standing on what is now Valley View property.
The ancestors of the Laudeman family emigrated to the United States and the Milford area in the first half of the 18th Century. Our board member and the Founder of Valley View Foundation, Robert E. Laudeman, Jr., is the sixth generation of the Laudeman family to live on the land at the confluence of the East Fork and the Little Miami Rivers. The Laudeman farm once spanned from the East Fork to the Little Miami River and included much of the current SEM Retirement Community. The Laudeman's built the barns that sit on Valley View property as well as the farm homes located at 5384 and 5392 South Milford Road. Many of the artifacts and historic photographs on our website came from the Laudeman family. Click on the Read More button to see more of the Laudeman family photos of life on Valley View over the past 100-plus years.
The Craver Family has also been in Milford since the early 1800s. The descendants of the family live in Milford and Greater Cincinnati and a portion of their farm remains in the seventh generation of the family. The Craver's ancestors were the Woodwards. Their farm sat inside the confluence of the East Fork and Little Miami Rivers, today the site of the Terrace Park Country Club, Pattison Elementary School and the Milford Jesuit Spiritual Retreat Center. The dramatic views of these river valleys caused the Woodwards to name their farm Valley View Farm. And yes, that is how our organization gained its name. The picture below shows the barns on their farm which were located near the current location of the Terrace Park Country Club clubhouse.