Not too long ago one of Greenville’s landmarks disappeared – a hitching post. It was hit by an automobile and destroyed.
Just in case any of our readers are unfamiliar with hitching posts, they were posts to which a horse (or other animal) could be tethered to prevent it from straying.
There are very few of these unique reminders of the nineteenth century now remaining in Butler County. At one time, they were everywhere – in front of homes and businesses.
In fact, everyone had to have something to secure his horse, or his horse and buggy, or his wagon teams when he went visiting, shopping, or conducting any other business.
The hitching posts in front of the stores usually were made of wood and were several feet wide, sort of like a fence. They were called racks or rails, where several horses could be tied.
Most other posts were made of cast iron in every design imaginable – some simple, some ornate. They were generally about three feet tall, with a ring, slot, or hole to which bridle reins could be attached
A law was enacted in Greenville in 1884 concerning hitching posts and where animals could be hitched.
They could not be fastened to any shade tree growing in any street or sidewalk or other public place of the city; or any lamp post of the city, or to any house, fence, post or shade tree, unless on a person’s own premises.
No animal could be fastened anywhere so as to stand on a sidewalk. Any person convicted of violating the law was fined or sentenced to hard labor for the city.
Most people traveled by horse or a horse-drawn vehicle until the turn of the twentieth century, so the hitching posts were a necessity. About 1900, with the introduction of the automobile, things began to change.
Although horse-drawn vehicles continued to be the primary means of transportation for some time, automobiles began to gain in popularity, and hitching posts were no longer needed.
It is somewhat ironic that it was an automobile that destroyed one of Greenville’s last connections with the past – a Hitching Post.
From the files of the Butler County Historical & Genealogical Society.