Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity
Chapter Eight Part 2


            John W. Harries, born in 1783 in Gelledewyll, Cannarthenshire, South Wales, Great Britain, emigrated with his family to New York in 1822, having at that time five children. His wife (Mary Williams) died and he married Mary E. Conklin, of Huntington, Long Island. They had two children born in New York, and in 1829 started west, arriving in Dayton on the canal-boat Experiment on July 5. After reaching Dayton three children were born—Mary, Rosetta, and Emma. Mr. Harries for many years had an ale brewery on North Jefferson Street. Mrs. Harries died at the age of sixty-five years. Mr. Harries died February 22, 1873, at the age of ninety years.  The oldest son, Thomas, a Presbyterian minister, preached many times in Dayton. John married Mrs. Lydia Merriam, a widow (daughter, of William Hoffman); William married Mary Huston; David married Lottie Smith, of New York; Ann married Mark Reed; Charles married Elizabeth Regans, daughter of Jephthah Regans; Caroline married William Young, of Piqua; Mary died when quite young; Rosetta married Jonathan Harshman Gorman, and Emma married William Henry Simms.

Daniel Altick, born in Franklin County, Virginia, August 6, 1802, came to Dayton in the spring of 1828, and in 1829 married Rachel Wolf. He was employed for two years with Peasley & Mead, noted for their artistic skill in working metal and wood. Mr. Altick died July 25, 1875, in his seventy-fourth year.  His wife died September 11, 1889. The only surviving children are William Altick and Mrs. Melissa A. Herst, of Dayton, and Mrs. Martha J. Stoneberger, of Osborn.

In 1828 Gideon Beall came to Dayton with his wife, Ann, her sister Lucy, and brother, Washington Weston, and Francis Waring.  Francis Waring and Washington Weston clerked for George W. Smith, but Waring soon moved to Greenville. At this time there were five boys clerking "at the head of the basin"—Washington Weston, William C. Davis, Joseph Clegg, William Harker, and the writer; not bad boys, but full of fun, of whom four are still living—William C. Davis, of Huntsville, Alabama; Joseph Clegg, William Harker, and myself. Washington Weston left Dayton in 1835, but later returned, and from 1856 to 1863 controlled the Dayton Paper Mills, after which he removed to Greenville, where he died.

About 1833 Joseph Weston joined the family in Dayton. He wrote for a while in the clerk's office at Hamilton, and afterwards obtained the same position in this county. Later he formed a partnership with Daniel E. Mead in the paper-mill. Mr. Weston married Sarah Demarest, but she did not live long, and his sisters, both widowed the second time, Mrs. Ann Hasselman and Mrs. Lucy Green, made their home with him on the corner of Second and Ludlow streets. In 1882 or 1883 Mrs. Hasselman died, Mrs. Green died in May, 1888, and Mr. Weston died in California, whither he had gone to spend the winter, in January, 1894. Mrs. Green's son, John W. Green, with his family, now resides in the old home.

Frederick Boyer, born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1790, came to Dayton in 1829. He died in 1860 at the age of seventy years. Of his nine children three are living— Mrs. Wollaston, J. F. Boyer, and Sarah Boyer.

Thomas J. S. Smith was born in Cumberland, Maryland, December 10, 1806, graduated at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, and came to Dayton in 1830. He taught school in the old stone bank building, number 224 North Main Street, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1832. On May 28, 1833, he married Jane Bacon, daughter of Henry Bacon, one of the pioneer attorneys here, and moved to Troy, Ohio. In 1844 he returned to Dayton, became interested in railroad projects, and was president of the Dayton & Michigan Railroad at one time. In 1856-57 he represented this county in the Legislature. Mr. Smith was for many years a prominent member of the First Presbyterian Church. The two sons, General S. B. Smith and J. McLain Smith, are still residents of Dayton.

At the age of twenty John Bidleman left his father's farm in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and tramped his way westward, riding on wagons when opportunity offered, until he reached Cincinnati. He arrived in Dayton in 1830, and opened a shoeshop at the head of the basin on First Street. He enlarged his business from time to time, subsequently bought a tanyard, and sold his make of leather in all parts of the United States. On October 2, 1836, he married Evaline Phelps, sister of Winslow S. Phelps, for many years cashier of the Dayton National Bank. They had eight children—Winslow E., Emma P., John H., Eva S., Jacob G., Charles D., Carrie L., and Mary J. Mr. Bidleman died in July, 1895, at the age of eighty-five, having outlived his wife six years.

The following extract from an obituary of Thomas Brown, written by Judge Dustin, and published in the Journal, were given me by his daughters as a fitting account of his life, so many years of which were spent in Dayton:

"Thomas Brown was born April 10, 1800, in the village of Manahawkin, Monmouth (now Ocean) County, New Jersey, where he spent most of his childhood days. After learning the trade of builder, he, in company with a friend, walked from Philadelphia to Lebanon, Ohio, where his two brothers then resided, and in 1828 moved to Dayton.

"Mr. Brown was a member of the first School Board, a member of the General Assembly for two years, a director of the State Prison from 1848 to 1851, and one of the lessees of public works under the law of 1861. Prior to 1851 he was a contractor and builder, and erected many public and private buildings in this and other counties of the State. Thereafter he was engaged in various enterprises, and finally purchased an interest in the firm of S. N. Brown & Company, of which his son was the leading partner, and when the firm became incorporated, was elected president, and continued in that position until he died.

"Mr. Brown voted at eighteen Presidential elections, and was fully up with the times, the first man in Dayton to use natural gas, and always ready to adopt new methods. In 1824 he married Sarah Groom e Brown, widow of his brother John, by whom he had four children—Ellen, Samuel N., Charles E., and Caroline. Mr. Brown died at the age of ninety-four years."

James Findlay Schenck, on May 4, 1822, when but fifteen years old, started for West Point, on horseback, was admitted as a cadet, and remained two years. In March, 1825, on receiving the appointment of midshipman in the United States Navy, he traveled first to Washington, District of Columbia, and then to Norfolk, Virginia, on horseback, where he was ordered on duty on the sloop of war Hornet. In 1864 he was promoted to the rank of commodore, given command of the Powhatan, at Hampton Roads, and assigned to the Third Division of Admiral Porter's fleet. On September 23, 1868, he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, and in 1869, at the age of sixty-two years, was placed on the retired list.

In 1829, while on short leave of absence, Admiral Schenck married Dolly Smith, of Smithtown, Long Island, and in 1836 bought a home in Dayton, at the corner of First and Wilkinson streets, where his family afterwards resided, and there he died December 21, 1882. His wife died September 7, 1876. They had four children : Sarah, the widow of Captain Crane; Jane Findley, who married Hon. A. Barr Irwin, of Kuttawa, Kentucky; Casper, pay inspector in the United States Navy; and Woodhull, an officer in the Imperial Maritime Customs of China, who died in California on his way home on furlough in 1880.

Robert C. Schenck graduated in 1827 at Miami University and in 1830 received the degree of Master of Arts. He then entered the law office of Hon. Thomas Corwin, of Lebanon, Ohio, was admitted to the bar the following year, and came to Dayton. He formed a partnership with Judge Joseph H. Crane, then with Peter Odlin, and from 1844 to 1850 with Wilbur Conover, under the firm name of Schenck & Conover. In 1840 Mr. Schenck represented this county in the State Legislature, and in 1843 was elected to Congress, holding his seat until 1850, when he declined renomination. In 1851 he was appointed by President Fillmore United States Minister to Brazil.

When the Civil War broke out he was first commissioned brigadier-general, and later major-general. In the second battle of Bull Run he received a wound, permanently injuring his right arm and hand. On the 5th of December, 1863, General Schenck retired from the army to again represent the Third Congressional District in Congress, and was made chairman of the military committee. In 1871 he was appointed United States Minister to Great Britain, serving until 1876, when he retired from public life, and made his home in Washington, District of Columbia.

General Schenck married Rennelche Smith. They had six daughters, of whom three are still living in Washington.

Dr. John Boyd Craighead, second son of Thomas and Rebecca Weakley Craighead, was born April 22, 1800, near Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. On November 25, 1829, he married Mary Wallace Purdy, of Mansfield, Ohio, and in 1830 moved to Dayton, where, until his death, he occupied a foremost position in his profession.  His wife died December 29, 1839, leaving two young sons— John P. Craighead, now of New York City, and William Craighead, of this city.  In May, 1841, Dr. Craighead married Rebecca Dodds, of this city. Joseph Boyd Craighead, of Richmond, Indiana, and Mrs. Mary E. Soper, of Chicago, Illinois, are the surviving children of this marriage. Dr. Craighead was a devoted member of the First Presbyterian Church of Dayton. He died December 8, 1868, and Mrs. Craighead, who survived him, died August 28, 1884.

Daniel W. Iddings, a clerk in Robert A. Edgar's store in 1833, graduated at Oxford, Ohio, in 1842, and was admitted to the bar in 1846. He was Mayor of the city from 1856 to 1858, president of the Council for ten years, and registrar of bankruptcy from 1867 until the law was repealed. Mr. Iddings married Maria Atkins, daughter of William Atkins. They had two sons, who, with Mrs. Iddings, are still living in Dayton. Mr. Iddings died in 1883.

Joseph Barnett, born in West Hanover Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in 1779, on April 8, 1813, married Elizabeth Alien, daughter of Colonel William Alien. They moved to Dayton in 1832, and on July 31 purchased of William King one hundred acres of land at thirty dollars per acre. The present boundaries of this purchase would be not far from Third Street on the north, Germantown Street on the south, Broadway on the east, and Euclid Avenue on the west. Mr. Barnett erected a brick house near the center of his land (now the northeast corner of

Home Avenue and Summit Street), and after the Eaton pike was built (Third Street) made a road to it, which is now Summit Street. Mrs. Barnett died October 16, 1837, and on April 9, 1839, Mr. Barnett married Jane Carr Rogers, daughter of Robert Rogers, of Springfield, Ohio.

Mr. Barnett took an active part in the Presidential campaign of General William H. Harrison in 1840, and was one of the marshals to escort Harrison's party into town "from the Harshman residence, where they had passed the night. At that time Mr. Barnett literally kept open house. The table was loaded with provisions, china, and silver; the house, barn, and corncrib were left open for any to enter and help themselves, while the family came to town to take part in the general festivities of the day. Mr. Barnett said that, to his knowledge, nothing was lost, stolen, or destroyed. Mr. Barnett was greatly interested in all public improvements, particularly the turnpikes and later the railroads, was a member of the Ohio Senate from this district for two terms, and a member of the constitutional convention in 1849. He and his wife were devoted members of the First Presbyterian Church, and enthusiastic members of the colony that organized what is now Park Presbyterian Church. Mr. Barnett headed the subscription list for the first building on East Second Street with six thousand dollars. When it was decided to change the location to west of the canal, he purchased the site of the present church edifice of Horatio G. Phillips for four thousand dollars cash, had the deed made to the trustees of the church, and to provide against debt on the new building left the church two thousand five hundred dollars in his will. Mr. Barnett died January 2, 1858. His wife survived him, making her home with her sister, Mrs. Effie A. Edgar, where she died November 4, 1871.

Hezekiah Loomis was born in Tolland County, Connecticut, May 21, 1779. In 1808 he joined the navy, and was on board the Vixen with Commodore James Decatur at the battle of Tripoli.  On his return home, he named his son, born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in 1807, James Decatur. After retiring from the navy, Mr. Loomis came to Dayton to make his home with his sons, and died here on August 18, 1862. James Decatur Loomis came to Dayton with Joseph Barnett in 1832, was first in partnership with Mr. Barnett, and later with William Barnett and William Pritz. On November 13, 1834, he married Isabella McQuead. Mr. Loomis died April 15, 1879. Mrs. Loomis died December 21, 1893, in her eightieth year, leaving three daughters—Misses Hannah and Annie, who reside in the family homestead, and Mrs. Warren Munger.

Peter Post Conover, in 1832, when thirteen years of age, came to Dayton from New Brunswick, New Jersey, learned the carriage trade in Samuel Dolley's shop, and continued to do business at the same place until he retired, in 1875. He married one of Mr. Dolley's daughters, and bought a lot on the corner of Maple and Perry streets for seventy-five dollars, where he built his home, still in the possession of his children. Mr. Conover's two sons, Samuel Dolley and Adams Jewett, are in business in the city.

Peter Odlin came here in 1832, and was first in partner-ship with Hon. Robert C. Schenck, and afterwards with John G. Lowe. In 1861 he was elected a member of the Legislature, was chairman of the Finance Committee until the close of the Rebellion, and in 1869 was elected Senator. He was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention which nominated General Taylor, and also on the electoral ticket for Fremont. He was president of the Dayton branch of the State Bank from 1845, and after its organization as the Dayton National Bank, until his death. While in the Legislature Mr. Odlin was the author of several bills which became laws, among them the one allowing soldiers on the field to vote, and the law prohibiting the sale of liquor in Dayton on election days. In 1821 Mr. Odlin married Anna M. Ross. She died in 1872. Mr. Odlin continued the practice of his profession up to the time of his death, October 21, 1877, in his eightieth year, having made a strong and able speech in court but a month before.

Eliam E. Barney came to Dayton in 1834 as principal of the academy, and on October 10, 1834, married Julia Smith, of Galway, New York. In 1840, owing to poor health, he gave up teaching, and bought a sawmill from Ebenezer Thresher, on the corner of Wayne Street and the canal. When the Cooper Female Seminary was completed, at the request of the trustees he took charge of it. In the summer of 1849 Ebenezer Thresher and Mr. Barney started the Car Works. In 1854 Mr. Thresher sold his interest to Caleb Parker, who had recently moved to Dayton from Boston, and the business was continued under the name of Barney, Parker & Company until 1864, when Mr. Parker sold his interest to Preserved Smith, and the firm name was changed to Barney, Smith & Company. The business was conducted by this firm until 1867, when a joint stock company was formed as the Barney & Smith Manufacturing Company, of which Mr. Barney was president until his death. Mr. Barney was also vice-president of the Second National Bank, director of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, and ; president of the Cooper Hydraulic Company. He was a prominent member of the First Baptist Church, and assisted largely in placing it on a firm basis. Mr. Barney died December 17, 1880. His wife survived him many years. They had six children, of whom five are still living—Eugene J. Barney, Mrs. Agnes Barney Platt, Mrs. Mary Barney Platt, Albert Barney, and Edward E. Barney.

Augustin King married Mary Webb in Troy, New York, in 1811. In 1834 he located in Dayton, and, with Colonel James Greer, organized the manufacturing firm of Greer & King, so well known in Dayton for over fifty years. His wife, Mary King, died in 1843. He died in 1856. Their children were Caroline (Mrs. James Greer), Edward A., and Rufus J., who alone survives.

Colonel Edward A. King, born in Cambridge, New York, in 1814, was appointed postmaster of Dayton by President Pierce, in which position he was retained by President Buchanan. He served in the war for Texan independence, in the Mexican War, and in the Rebellion, and was killed while in command of a brigade at the battle of Chickamauga.

James Greer, born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on December 21, 1807, came west and first settled in Columbus, Ohio, where, on August 7, 1828, he married Caroline E. King. In 1834 he came to Dayton and engaged in stove manufacturing with Augustin King, and for many years prior to his death, which occurred very suddenly on February 13, 1873, was associated in the same business with his brother-in-law, Rufus J. King. He was a public-spirited citizen, a liberal-minded man, prominent in business circles and society. An enthusiastic geologist, he collected a fine museum, which is now a part of the permanent exhibit in the Public Library building. He was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia, and wrote many papers for geological and archaeological societies. He was an original member of the Third Street Presbyterian Church of this city. Colonel Greer had three children: Admiral James A. Greer, who, at the time of his retirement, was senior officer of the United States Navy; Mrs. Thomas J. Wood, of this city; and Horace Greer, who died in 1872.

Christopher Thompson came to Dayton, with his family, from Manchester, England, and in 1836 started a foundry on the Cooper Hydraulic, and afterwards formed a partnership with McGregor & Callahan. It was always said that no man could make a casting equal to Mr. Thompson. His son, Ralph Langton Thompson, in 1848 married Mary Jane Davis, the daughter of Owen Davis, and granddaughter of Thomas Davis, one of the original nineteen settlers. In 1853 they moved to Terre Haute, where Mr. Thompson went into the milling business. He died in 1881, and Mrs. Thompson and her daughter, now Mrs. Fred Beaver, returned to Dayton. Mrs. Thompson died here in 1891.

Frederick Gebhart in 1838 came to Dayton from Pennsylvania, with his wife and children, and purchased a lot on Third Street, just east of Main, from John W. Van Cleve for five thousand dollars. Here he erected a three-story brick building, which he occupied for many years as a dry-goods store. He had nine children, the two youngest of whom were born in Dayton,—Alexander, John, Josiah, Mrs. Joseph Newcomer, Mrs. Isaac Haas, Mrs. H. L. Pope, Mrs. Cahill, Walter, and Annie. All are living except John and Mrs. Cahill.

Hiram Wyatt, a baker by trade, came to Dayton in April, 1834, and opened a bakery on East Third Street. On January 22, 1835, he married Elizabeth Elder. They had two children—a son and a daughter. His .wife died in 1838, and on February 21, 1839, he married Mary C. Davis, of Zanesville. Mr. Wyatt died in December, 1893. They had five children, three of whom are still living. There are few as well known in Dayton as Mrs. Wyatt.

John H. Achey, born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, September 2, 1802, came to Dayton in 1838, and in 1843, in partnership with James H. Brooks, started the first lumber yard in Dayton. Their pine lumber was brought down the Ohio River on rafts from Pittsburg, then up the canal, and was thoroughly water-soaked, but after the water evaporated there was no further trouble. In 1849 he was a director of the Dayton branch of the State Bank, a member of the State Board of Control, and in 1865 assisted in organizing the Dayton National Bank, being until his death its president. He was a leading member of the Methodist Church, and a Knight Templar for over twenty years. In October, 1829, he married Mary Rife, of Middletown, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and had three children, of whom only one, Mrs. Juana Neal, of California, is still living.

David Laymon, born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, January 13, 1807, in the autumn of 1838 came to Dayton in a one-horse wagon, with his wife, two children, and all the household goods. In 1843 Mr. Laymon united with the First Lutheran Church, then located on the corner of Fourth and Jefferson streets. In 1856 he removed his family to Liberty, Indiana, where he resided at the time of his wife's death, January 1,1881, when he returned to Dayton and made his home jointly with his two daughters, Mrs. William Altick and Mrs. Charles H. Jarrell, who, with an only son, David Laymon, survive him.

William Hoff, who settled in Miamisburg in 1838, was well known among Dayton merchants, with whom he did a large business, and was respected throughout the community for his honesty and integrity. He died in February, 1872, leaving two daughters—Mrs. Hoover, of Miamisburg, and Mrs. George A. Black, of Dayton.

Francis Ohmer was born in Lorain, France, in 1796, married Margaret Floquet in 1822, and in November, 1831, sailed, with his family, for the United States, reaching New York City in January, 1832, and in 1837 came to Dayton, where Mr. Ohmer worked at his trade as a tailor. They had eight children, of whom five sons, Nicholas, Michael, Peter, Augustus, and George, and one daughter, Mrs. Stewart, still live in Dayton. One daughter, Mrs. Sage died, and another daughter, Mrs. Kemper, lives in Philadelphia.

William Dickey was born August 10, 1805, near Middle-town, Ohio. His mother, a native of Pennsylvania, was a second cousin of George Washington. In 1839 Mr. Dickey came to Dayton and engaged in the manufacture of brick, contracting on the Miami and Erie Canal, and, associated with his brother, Robert R., quarried limestone. They also owned a line of packets between Cincinnati and Toledo, and Toledo and Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1850 Mr. Dickey, in connection with Joseph Clegg and Daniel Beckel, started a private bank. He was one of the organizers of the Miami County Bank, one of the incorporators of the Dayton Gas Light and Coke Company, and president for many years. Mr. Dickey was influential in organizing the Ohio Insurance Company in 1865, and was president of that company until his death. He died July 15, 1880. His only son, Samuel, died the following year, on August 9. Mrs. Dickey and their two daughters, Mrs. H. C. Graves, of Dayton, and Mrs. Charles B. Oglesby, of Middletown, Ohio, are still living.

Horace Pease was born in Suffield, Connecticut, February 14, 1791, and in 1827 settled in Carrollton, going into partnership with his brother Perry in a small distillery to make wine from apples and peaches. In 1839 they built a flour-mill on East Third Street, now occupied by Joseph B. Gebhart & Son, and Horace moved to Dayton to take charge of it. In 1852 the partnership was dissolved, Horace taking the Dayton property. Mr. Pease was sent to the State Legislature in 1834, and was one of the board of county commissioners when the old Court-house was built. In 1821 he married Ann Stiltz, of Baltimore, Maryland. She died in 1829, leaving four children, and in 1832 Mr. Pease married Sarah Belville, of New Castle, Delaware. They had seven children. In 1849 Mr. Pease started the Buckeye Iron and Brass Works, of which his son, Charles E. Pease, is now president, it having been incorporated in 1875. Walter Pease was an officer during the Civil War, and Webster Pease invented a machine for cutting chewing tobacco. Mrs. James Stockstill, Mrs. Horace Phillips, and C. E. Pease are the only children living. Mrs. Pease died in 1862. and Mr. Pease died July 29, 1875.

William Clark, born in Dedham, Massachusetts, January 18, 1805, at the age of sixteen learned the millwright and machinist's trade, and located in Dayton in 1839. Here he engaged in the manufacture of paper for thirty or more years, and was successively in partnership with Amos Stephens, B. F. Ells, L. F. Claflin, and C. L. Hawes. I believe he was the first to manufacture the heavy straw-board now generally used for boxes, book backs, etc. Mr. Clark left two daughters, who are still living.

Beniah Tharp, among the first to make brick here, had his brickyard on Brown Street. He first married a cousin of John W. Van Cleve, and after her death married the sister of Jacob Sturr, on the Brandt pike. Mrs. Tharp and her sister, Mrs. Conrad, are still living in Dayton.

Jacob Sturr came here in 1830, and bought a farm about six miles north of town on the Brandt pike, where he lived until his death in 1853.

Thomas Mathison came to Dayton in 1839, and bought a half acre of land on West Third Street, with a cabin, which is still standing, on it. Mr. Mathison died some years ago. Mrs. Mathison is still living in the old house.

Miss Maria Boyd came to Dayton from Philadelphia, and established a milliner store in the old Colonel Reid building, on Main Street, in 1839. She was the fashionable milliner of that time. Being a sincere Christian, a member of the First Presbyterian Church, and believing Revelation 14 :13, she devoted her days to ministering to the sick, the poor, and the needy. Her good deeds and Christian character should long be remembered by the people of Dayton. She died April 2, 1879. Psalm 37 :37.

In the winter of 1828-29 the charter of the town was amended so the Mayor was to be elected, instead of being chosen by the Select Council.

In 1828 seventy new buildings were erected, and in 1829 ninety-nine, and the town divided into five wards.

In 1830 a looking-glass factory and a horn-comb factory were started, and on August 7, 1832, the comb factory advertised that they would pay cash for "horns and cattle tails." Jesse Boogher has a pocket comb made by his brother Gideon and himself on Main Street in 1832.

In 1830 Council, at a special meeting, granted a free license, and the Methodists gave their meeting-house, around the interior of which a track was laid, for the exhibition of "a locomotive engine and railway," and for a small fee those who wished might ride. In July, 1831, a second locomotive, or "steam carriage," was exhibited at Machir & Hardcastle's warehouse near the basin. In 1830 Morris Seely purchased a large quantity of land, commencing at Third Street, running south, and began, where the Peirce & Coleman planing-mill now stands, to dig a canal parallel with Wayne Avenue to Fifth Street, east on Fifth to P. E. Gilbert's planing-mill, thence south and west, making many elbows and turns for basins, until it crossed the junction of Brown and Warren streets, then west to the main canal. As the money gave out, the canal project failed, and lots on Fifth and Wayne streets sold at public sale for from five to thirty dollars. A. M. Peasley established a pleasure garden on the west side of Warren Street, thinking parties would come down the canal for pleasure and refreshments; but it was not a success, and was finally abandoned.

Philip Keifer, a carpenter, still living in Dayton at the age of ninety-five years, wrote me the following:

"In a still search and long hunt to gather up some of the history and happenings of Dayton: The first three-story block of business rooms built in Dayton was in 1832, on the ground where the Eaker Block now stands, the corner room occupied by Billy Eaker as a dry-goods store, the room on the north, front on Main Street, occupied by Luther Bruen as a store. In 1842 a three-story block was built by J. Harshman on the ground now occupied by the Callahan Bank Building. The brick work was done by Thomas Brown and John Weber, and the carpenter work was done by P. Keifer & Shepperd. The old Court-house was built between 1847 and 1849. The contract was awarded to a man by the name of Gary at his bid of sixty thousand dollars, but in the course of its erection many changes were made, which destroyed the contract. The commissioners refused to pay his bill, and he sued the county. The case was tried in court at Troy, Miami County, and he got a judgment of nearly double the amount. About the year 1837 a stone dealer named Gillmore built a wooden railroad from the west end of his stone quarry down a ravine a little west of Cox's old tavern, gaining the Xenia turnpike where the Pan-Handle Railroad bridge crosses the pike, and along said pike to Third. Street; there by a turntable it was turned at near a right angle onto another track, a bee line to his depot, located on the ground now occupied by the Stoddard manufactory. His depot was built up with rocks, more with regard to quantity than elegance. In 1841 he built the Montgomery House, and soon after the flat at the lower end of Ludlow Street, known as the 'Seven Smokes.' In 1844, at the time of the Millerite excitement, they had set the day for the consummation of all terrestrial things. In the latter part of the night of the same day the Lowry still-house burned down. It happened during a heavy snow storm, and each flake of snow reflected the light, that lit up the skies as bright as the full moon would on a clear night. Some', of the more timid were badly frightened."

On the opening of the canal Alexander Swaynie established a tavern and wagon-yard on the ground now occupied by the Pinneo & Daniels shops. The wagon-yard was full of teams almost every night, and the frame house crowded, the men thinking themselves fortunate when, having brought their own blankets, they could find a space on the floor. Mr. Swaynie made money rapidly, and in 1838 or 1839 erected a three-story brick building on the site of his first frame. It was fitted throughout with carpets of Dayton manufacture, and was always a first-class hotel.

The National Hotel, on Third Street, the leading hotel of the town, was opened in 1828 by Timothy Squier. In 1848 the name was changed to the Voorhees House, and ten years later to the Phoenix Hotel. The original entrance is now the Third Street entrance to the Beckel House.

In 1837 Calvin Francisco came here and started a pottery in the old still-house of Abram Darst. His son John, a fence maker, is still living in Dayton.

Cholera was first brought to Dayton in 1832 by German emigrants on the canal, of whom a number and the two nurses employed by the town died. In 1833 there were thirty-three fatal cases, and in 1849 there were over two hundred deaths.  A board of health was appointed by Council in 1832, but it was not until 1835 that an ordinance was passed requiring malignant diseases to be reported to the Mayor, and in 1849 the cholera hospital was first established.

In February, 1832, during high water, the middle pier of the Bridge Street bridge was washed out and Steele's Dam injured. The suffering in Cincinnati was so great that the citizens of Dayton subscribed $202 "to aid in relieving the distressed people of that city."

In 1836 David Zeigler Cooper executed a deed to the city releasing his reversionary interest in lots 94, 95, and 96, with the understanding that they should be leased and the income used in improving the common, enclosing it, and keeping it as "a walk" for the "citizens of Dayton and its visitors." In April Council desired to negotiate a loan of from one to ten thousand dollars, with which to extend the market-house to Jefferson Street, grade streets, improve the common, etc., and although some objected that the improvements were more for ornament than use, and the taxes would be increased, the loan was authorized and Council recommended to use one-tenth of the money expended in filling Seely's ditch.

Wild-cat currency at this time was the only money, and small coin being scarce, any one having credit could issue their promise to pay, on demand, shinplasters in sums of from six and one-quarter to fifty cents. Thomas Morrison, who issued a great number of these shinplasters, stated in the Journal, in 1838, that he had to leave town to complete a contract, much to his regret, as the law prohibiting the circulation of shinplasters was soon to take effect, but that on his return he would pay all, which he did. The cuts are from two of his shinplasters. The Dayton Bank at this time was the only bank in the country that redeemed its notes with specie.

In the spring of 1836 the Dayton Philharmonic Society was organized, with Stephen Fry teacher, and C. Hayden secretary, to study sacred music, and on September 11, 1838, the Montgomery County Agricultural Society was organized. The first fair was held in Dayton in October, 1839, at Swaynie's Hotel.

The first colored person in Dayton was Mrs. Daniel C. Cooper's maid. The next, that I remember, was Pompey, the sexton of the First Presbyterian Church; then Joe Crowder; Joe Piner and his wife, Auntie Nett; Tom Jeff and his wife, Eliza; Joseph Wheeler, Catharine Sills, and Madison Penn. Madison Penn lived on my father's farm, and worked for him, I think, as early as 1828. He afterwards came to town and became a whitewasher, an important trade in those days. At one time he was a director of the workhouse.

Joseph Wheeler, born in Halifax County, Virginia, in January, 1800, came to Dayton in 1824, and in June, 1830, married Catharine Sills, then only fourteen years old. They had eight sons and four daughters, of whom five are still living. Mr. Wheeler died February 17, 1871. After his death Catharine, who was born in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1816, married Madison Penn.  She is now the oldest colored resident of Dayton, having come here in 1820.

In 1841 a young girl, so light in color that many thought her white, came to make her home with her people, in the vicinity of Wayne, Fifth, and Eagle streets. A mob formed among the lower classes, and in February, when the thermometer was below zero, drove the colored people out of their cabins, pulling down and burning many of the houses. The owner of one of the cabins stabbed the leader of the mob, Nat McCleary, and killed him. There was great suffering from the exposure. Many died and others left town.

When the National Road was surveyed from Cumberland, Maryland, to St. Louis, the straight line took the road about eight miles north of here. Great efforts were made to have it built through town, and Joseph Barnett and Morris Seely were sent to Washington to see if the route could not be changed. The principal objection raised by the Springfield delegation, that the road would not then be a straight line, carried weight, and their effort was not successful. The citizens of Dayton, and those on the road between Dayton and Springfield, then formed the Dayton and Springfield Turnpike Company, and subscribed sufficient money to build a turnpike from Dayton to tap the National Road just this side of the corporation of Spring-field. Jonathan Harshman, Joseph Barnett, John Kniesly, Charles Hagenbaugh, Valentine Winters, and Peter Aughenbaugh were the board of directors, Mr. Harshman president, Joseph Barnett secretary, Valentine Winters treasurer, and John F. Edgar  collector. The books were opened for subscriptions on January 19, 1838, and the contract let May 12.  This road was subsequently connected with the National Road at Richmond, by the Dayton and Western Turnpike Company.

The Legislature on March 24, 1836, passed an act authorizing a loan of credit by the State of Ohio to the capital stock of railroad, turnpike, canal, and slack-water companies. Dayton at once availed itself of the provisions of this act, and had five turnpikes well under way, in all about a hundred and forty miles, before the law was repealed in 1840.

In 1838 Alexander Grimes and Edward W. Davies, trustees of David Zeigler Cooper's estate, built a dam just west of the aqueduct, crossing Mad River, and diverted the water into a bayou running north of the old bed from that point to the Miami. When they and the city built the levee, it made a permanent embankment on the south side, and all: the land north of First Street, including Bimm's ice park and the Car Shops, down to the present mouth of Mad River, was reclaimed and made available for city lots. The trustees also extended the basin to join the main canal east of the Car Works property, thus making it the main canal. While the soldiers were encamped here in 1812, Mr. Cooper employed some of them to dig the sawmill race, which started from the old race at the north end of Foundry Street. In 1838 this race was abandoned, and Messrs. Grimes and Davies built the Cooper Hydraulic—seven hundred feet long and fifty feet wide, with a fall of twelve feet into the canal. It was fed from the main canal, now the feeder, just north of the lock at Fifth Street, and was to furnish power to all the mills, factories, and shops from Third to Fifth, including the Buckeye Iron and Brass Works, the Pease Flour Mill (Joseph B. Gebhart & Son), and Pritz's Agricultural Works (Sachs & Pruden Brewery). The water-power for the Curtis Woolen Factory (Durst Mills), the Gun-barrel Factory (Osceola Mill), Cooper Cotton Factory, and the old carpet factory (Kratochwill Mill) was taken from the feeder above the lock on the opposite side, and conveyed under Fifth Street, and emptied into the main canal over the wheels of these mills between Fifth and Sixth streets. Joel Holden had a clock factory at the foot of Ludlow Street, where he manufactured twenty-five hundred clocks annually. The factory was run by power from the canal.

Samuel Steele in 1830 built a dam across the Miami south of Stillwater (now known as Steele's Dam), and cut a race through Riverdale to the Miami at Forest Avenue (now the Dayton View Hydraulic). It furnishes power to the Stilwell-Bierce Manufacturing Company, A. A. Simonds' edge-tool works, and the Electric Light Company.

The accompanying map shows the old bed of Mad River, 1, 2, and 3; the new bed, 4 and 3 ; the old race, 5, 6, and 7; the extension of the canal basin, 8, 9, and 10; the race dug during 1812, 11 and 12; the basin from First to Sixth streets, 13 and 14; the old main canal, 15, 16, 17, and 18; old feeder, 19 and 20; Steele's Dam, 21; Dayton View Hydraulic, 22 and 23; Edgar cabin in 1798, 24; fulling-mill, 26; grist-mill and sawmill that burned in 1820, 26 and 27; sawmill built in 1813, 28; Van Cleve Park, 29; aqueduct, 30; State dam, 31.

There are three locks within the territory shown on the map, one at the aqueduct, one at the Car Works, and one at Fifth Street, with a total fall of about twenty-four feet.

On January 5, 1832, the Ohio Legislature passed an act incorporating the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad Company, authorizing the construction of a road from Dayton, through Springfield, to Sandusky.  Books were opened and a large subscription made, but in some way the books were lost or destroyed. A road was then built from Xenia to Cincinnati, and afterwards extended to Springfield, which gave a line by rail from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Dayton felt this blow for many years. Subsequently the Legislature passed other acts favoring the Mad River & Lake Erie Road, and on February 6, 1847, authorized Springfield to subscribe twenty thousand dollars to the stock of the company, to be applied on the line between Dayton and Springfield. The citizens of Dayton and people living on the route to the first crossing of Mad River, with one man in Springfield, subscribed one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The contract for the construction of the road-bed was let in [he winter of 1848-49 to Andrew DrGraff, and for laying the rails to Harris & Nichols, the first "T" rails laid here. I was employed to superintend that work, and as agent to open an office in Dayton under Superintendent E. F. Osborn. The last rail was laid January 25, 1851. Two days later an excursion passed over the road from Springfield to Dayton, and the next day (January 25) trains began running on regular schedule. During this time the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Road, the Greenville & Miami, and the Dayton & Western were being constructed. The board of directors of the Mad River & Lake Erie Road having received a grant of seven acres from the David Zeigler Cooper estate lying between Cooper Street and Monument Avenue and east of the canal for depots, authorized me to offer the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Road thirty thousand dollars to run their road up the west and north bank of the Great Miami River, build their bridge at the junction of Mill and Water streets, and have the union passenger depot at Main Street, where any quantity of ground could be purchased cheap, using the seven acres for freight business. This arrangement would have accommodated the Dayton & Western and the Greenville & Miami, as can be seen by a map of this county but influence in the southern part of the town secured the depot at Ludlow and Sixth streets.

The first locomotive in Dayton was the "Seneca," belonging to the Mad River & Lake Erie Company. It was run from Sandusky City to Xenia, there taken apart by John Hays and wagoned to Dayton, and set up on the track at the crossing of Webster Street. Boys carried water from neighboring pumps to fill the boiler, the engineer, John Hays, fired up and raised steam, and the writer pulled the cord and blew the first locomotive whistle ever heard in Dayton. How the boys did run, thinking the boiler had exploded. The Journal of June 5,1896, reports that John Hays, the engineer of the "Seneca," was killed during the recent storm at St. Louis.

The growth of Dayton was first materially affected by the construction of the canal,- then the turnpikes and the railroads. On April 1, 1796, the census showed in Dayton eight men, three women, four girls, and one baby boy (Dayton Hamer)—in all, sixteen; 1896, seventy-nine thousand three hundred and thirty-one.

When I look back and remember how it used to be in my boyhood days, when the time made by canal-boats and stages was considered fast, our only light the tallow dip and lard oil, and stop to realize the life of to-day, with steam and electricity; when I think of the first daguerreo-types taken in Dayton in 1848, and then read in the papers of the wonderful X-ray photography,—all these changes and discoveries, and many more, within the span of one short life,—the power of astonishment is almost exhausted. It is impossible for the present generation to conceive of the wonder and amazement created by the sight of the first locomotive, and the feeling of awe on receiving the first telegram.

 

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