Hamilton Field: The man behind the name

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The Hamilton family posed for this picture on October 18, 1968, the night the football field was dedicated and named Hamilton Field.

Chad Hobbs

For decades now, a long list of former and present Meade County football players have defended a field at the bottom of Death Valley behind the Meade County High School on Friday evenings every fall. Countless numbers of cheerleaders, band members, and fans have filed in the stadium to cheer the Greenwaves on to victory and many a radio broadcast has opened with the famous statement, “We now switch to our Meade County Greenwave Football broadcast live from Hamilton Field.” But who is this Hamilton that our community’s beloved field is named after?

 The first ever home football game played by MCHS was against Henry County on September 9, 1966. The coach was Wilson Sears. It was previewed in this very paper the week before the game, encouraging the community to come out and support the team along with the band, which would play and march in formation at halftime.

 After two years without one, the field would be named in 1968. It would be a name that would endure to this very day.

 A Meade County Messenger article in 1968 read as follows, “The Meade County High School football field will be dedicated and named on Friday night, October 18, 1968, at 7:45 p.m. prior to Meade County playing Fort Knox. The field will be officially named “Hamilton Field” in honor of the late Mr. Robert Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton served on the Meade County Board of Education for several years and made many worthwhile contributions to the Meade County School System and its youth.”

 Robert F. Hamilton, Sn. worked a boat out of Kosmosdale on the Ohio River. According to his grandson, Jeff Hamilton, Robert went missing for over two weeks during the 1937 flood, leaving his wife and friends to fear he had drowned.

 “When he did reappear, it was to tie-off the Cormorant (his boat) to a stately oak tree that stood atop the hill in downtown Brandenburg in front of the Old Brandenburg Courthouse. He hitched a ride as far as Ekron, walked overland to his house about three miles north of Big Spring, arrived home in the dead of night, and collapsed on the couch. He slept for two days,” Jeff says. “When he regained his strength, Robert explained to his wife, Elizabeth, that while gone those two weeks, he had been back and forth throughout Southern Indiana, rescuing people from their rooftops and such, as the 1937 flood put so many people in such dire peril, he just had to stay out there and try to help all he could.”

 In 1946, J.A. Bickett resigned from the Meade County School Board, and Hamilton was appointed to fill the remainder of Bickett’s term. He would go on to serve the school board until losing re-election in November of 1966. During those twenty years on the school board, he served as Chairman of the Board from 1953 to 1966.

 During his 1958 re-election campaign, he stated, “I feel that my years of experience will help me to better serve these communities. I believe that “Experience is the Best Teacher.” Furthermore, I will be able to devote the amount of time necessary to perform this important task. I pledge to you that I will always do my duty as I see necessary for the betterment of our school system and the children of Meade County.”

 Unfortunately, Hamilton would lose his battle with cancer and passed away in 1968. What those “many worthwhile contributions to the Meade County School System and its youth” manifested as have been buried in the sands of time. One thing that is certain, though, is that the Meade County Greenwave football program was born under his time serving as Chairman of the school board. Another thing that is certain is that the powers that be within the school system rushed to dedicate and name a three year old football field after Robert Hamilton, immediately after he passed from this world. It seems more than a coincidence that his name would be painted in larger letters than any other man’s name has been on a Meade County School District building. That is how much he meant to this county 52 years ago.

 It’s not surprising, however, when you add to his heroics from the flood and his time on the schoolboard, he was also the Farm Bureau President and chairman of the Meade County Poultry Committee. Another whole page could be written about his advancements of agriculture in this county and working with the county agent to bring modern practices and soil conservation to Meade County farms.

 It’s also not surprising that Robert F. “Bobbie” Hamilton, Jr. would go on to serve on the school board, as well, for fourteen years, serving as Chairman, himself, for twelve of those years. It would be during his tenure that ground was broke for the vocational school. Students would no longer have to bus to Elizabethtown for vocational classes.

 The football field is currently getting a facelift. Turf will replace the grass, and Jeff Hamilton brought up a very interesting question while working together on this article: Would the field be renamed when the renovations were complete?

 After talking with Meade County Athletic Director Todd Clanton, he said there are no plans to rename the field to his knowledge, and it will continue to be Hamilton Field for many years to come. I am sure the Hamilton family will love hearing this news. Many Greenwave alumni who have defended that field on Friday nights for 52 seasons, including myself, will be thrilled to know that “live from Hamilton Field” will continue to be heard every fall, as well.

 A special thanks to Jeff Hamilton for the extensive research and insight that he provided which was the foundation of this story.

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