the national interest

Life in Ohio, a Continuing Series

While a photograph is unavailable, this artist’s rendition portrays what Dr. Gay Hitler of Pickaway, Ohio may very well have looked like. Photo: Photo-illustration by New York Magazine

Pickaway, Ohio, is a town filled with things named after Hitler: Hitler Road, Hitler-Ludwig Road, Hitler-Ludwig Cemetery, Hitler Park, among others. In most states this would be considered scandalous, but since we’re talking about Ohio it merely rises to a local curiosity of moderate interest. The Circleville Herald reports that this is simply because a prominent local family of Hitlers has deep local roots:

George Hitler was born May 15, 1763, in Maryland. He married Susannah Gay in Pennsylvania and they came to Pickaway with four of their children, John, Catharine, Jacob and George …

The article continues listing the various Hitler spawn and their tedious exploits until stumbling to this unbelievable detail:

Dr. Gay Hitler, son of George Washington Hitler, was a local dentist, serving our community from 1922 through 1946 from his office on West Main Street.

What’s amazing about the story is not just the information it contains but the completely deadpan tone. George Washington Hitler was a person! He had a son named Gay Hitler! Who became Doctor Gay Hitler! This was a real person. Doctor. Gay. Hitler. In Ohio. Until  — hmmmm — 1946. (The news story was published in 2011, but the statute of limitations on news stories featuring people named “Gay Hitler” is infinite.)

This story also brings the question that lies at the heart of this series — what is the problem with this state? — closer to a resolution, by suggesting a simple theory: Ohio was settled by Hitlers.

Life in Ohio, a Continuing Series