Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio
Pages 171-188 General Robert C. Schenck to Isaac Van Ausdal

GEN. ROBERT C. SCHENCK, [pages 171-173]  deceased, one of Ohio's most distinguished sons, and one whom the people of Dayton take pride in claiming as their fellow citizen, was born in Franklin, Warren Co., Ohio, October 4, 1809, and was the son of Gen. William C. Schenck.

Gen. William C. Schenck was a native of New Jersey, born in January, 1773. He came to Cincinnati in 1795, and served for a time in the land office under Gen. James Findlay, and afterward under John Cleve Symmes, as a surveyor, which became his profession. In 1798 he married Betsey Rogers, of Huntington, Long Island, N. Y., and reached Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife, January 1, 1799. They resided in that city until about 1803, when they removed to Franklin, Ohio, of which place, as well as of Newark, Licking county; he was the founder and proprietor. His death occurred in January, 1821, on the forty-eighth anniversary of his birthday, at Columbus, where he was serving as a member of the legislature from Warren county. His eldest son, James Findlay Schenck, was rear admiral of the United States navy.

After the death of his father, Robert C. Schenck was placed under the guardianship of Gen. James Findlay. In November, 1824, he entered the sophomore class at Miami university, and in 1827 was graduated from that institution, but remained in Oxford, the seat of the university, employing his time in reading, and as tutor of French and Latin, until 1830, when he received the degree of master of arts. In November, 1836, he entered the law office of Thomas Corwin, at Lebanon, Ohio, and in the following January was admitted to the bar. He then located in Dayton and commenced the practice of law, which he continued with success until the commencement of his public life. In 1841 he was elected to the lower House of the Ohio general assembly. In May, 1843, he was elected to congress, and was re-elected for each succeeding term until 1850, when he declined a renomination. In 1851 he was appointed by President Fillmore as United States minister to Brazil. In April, 1852, while in Brazil, he received instructions to proceed to Buenos Ayres, and to Montevideo, and with the charge d'affaires to the Argentine confederation, to propose treaties of commerce with the latter government, and with the oriental republic of Uruguay. He was also empowered to negotiate with any person authorized to represent the republic of Paraguay. He returned from Brazil in 1854, and for some years took no active part in politics, spending his time in attending to important law cases and in managing, as president, a line of railroad from Fort Wayne, Ind., to the Mississippi river. In 1859, at a meeting of his fellow citizens of Dayton, he delivered an address upon the political questions of the day, and was on this occasion the first to suggest the name of Abraham Lincoln as the next president.

When the attack was made on Fort Sumter, Mr. Schenck, at once tendered his services to the government, and was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers. On June 17, 1861, Gen. Schenck was ordered to take possession of the London & Hampshire railroad as far as Vienna.  On reaching Vienna he was unexpectedly attacked by a body of rebels in ambush under Gregg, in greatly superior numbers.  Gen. Schenck, with great coolness, rallied his few men, and behaved with so much courage that the rebels withdrew. At Bull Run, July 21, 1861, he commanded a brigade in Gen. Tyler's division, and when the order for retreat was given, Gen. Schenck, forming his brigade, brought off the only portion of that great army that was not resolved into the original elements of a mob. Gen. Schenck was next assigned to the command of a brigade in West Virginia under Gen. Rosecrans, and was actively engaged in the campaign on the Kanawha and New rivers. From .Cumberland, he, with a small force, was ordered to move up the south bank of the Potomac river, did so, and successfully occupied and held Moorefield, Petersburg, Franklin and other important points. At the battle of Cross Keys he was assigned to the right of the line, and the rebels, in heavy force, attempted to flank his position, but the attempt was promptly repulsed. From that time until the second battle of Bull Run the General was actively engaged in all the fatiguing marches along the Rappahannock. Gen. Pope abandoned this point, and on August 22, 1862, Gen. Schenck's division was ordered toward Bull Run. In the two days' fight that ensued his division took an active part. His orders were given with great promptness and judgment, and he himself was active in seeing them executed. Gen. Folk's report mentioned his conduct in highly commendatory terms. On the second day of the battle he was severely wounded, and was carried from the field and conveyed to Washington. Shortly afterward he received his appointment as major-general of volunteers, and accompanying it a letter from Secretary Stanton, in which he stated that no official act of his was "ever performed with more pleasure than the forwarding of the inclosed appointment." For some time Gen. Schenck's wound was critical, and he recovered very slowly, with his right arm .permanently injured. His service in the field closed with the second battle of Bull Run. Over six months elapsed before Gen. Schenck was again fit for duty. In the meantime his great reputation and experience in civil affairs bad Suggested him as the fit commander for the troublesome Middle department, and accordingly he was, on December 11, 1862, assigned to that command, Eighth army corps, with headquarters at Baltimore, where he assumed command on the 22nd of the month. His administration of the Middle department was what might have been expected from one of his known executive ability and firmness. He was warmly praised by the president and the war department, and had the unqualified endorsement of all Union men within the Middle department for his course while in Maryland and Delaware.

On December 5, 1863, Gen. Schenck resigned his commission to take his seat in congress, to which he had been elected from the third congressional district of Ohio. He was appointed chairman of the committee on military affairs, a position of much responsibility, involving continuous and exhaustive labors. A history of his course in the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth congress would be a complete history of the military legislation of the country through the most eventful years of the war and after its close. Upon the organization of the fortieth congress Gen. Schenck was appointed chairman of the house committee on ways and means, thus becoming the leader of the house, which position he held until near the close of the forty-first congress. His services during that period were of great benefit to the country. From 1871 to 1876 Gen. Schenck ably represented the United States as minister to the Court of St. James, by appointment from President Grant, previous to which appointment he had served as a member of the high joint commission for the settlement of questions then in dispute between the United States and Great Britain. On his return he located in Washington, D. C., and resulted the practice of law. Subsequently the department of state placed in his hands the codification of international laws, upon which task he was employed for several years.

Gen. Schenck's death occurred in Washington City in March, 1890, and his remains were brought to Dayton for interment.

 

HENDERSON ELLIOTT, [pages 173-175] jurist, was born in Perquimans county, N. C., August 17, 1827, son of Jesse and Rachel (Jordan) Elliott. His ancestors on both sides were Irish, his grandparents being Quakers. His first American ancestor, Col. William Elliott, emigrated from Ireland toward the close of the seventeenth century. Young Elliott came in 1830 with his parents to Ohio, where the family engaged in farming. The father died in 1839, and at sixteen the son, who had early shown some taste for mechanics, apprenticed himself to learn the cabinet trade. He relinquished this at the end of six months, and after some two years devoted to mechanical employments, all his spare time being meanwhile given to reading and study, he entered upon active preparations for teaching.  His opportunities for even a common-school education were limited, hence he worked by day and studied by night, until he was able to pass an examination qualifying him to teach in the county schools.  After some years of alternately teaching and attending school, he in 1845 entered Farmers' college, near Cincinnati, Ohio, where he had the benefit of the instruction of the foremost educators of that day, such as President Freeman G. Cary, the venerable R. H. Bishop, D. D., Dr. John Scott and others. At the close of his collegiate career Mr. Elliott resumed teaching, and at the same time commenced the study of the law with Gen. Felix Marsh, of Eaton. He was admitted to the bar by the supreme court of Ohio in 1851, his examination having been made by Hon. William Dennison, afterward Ohio's war governor.  In all his efforts in school and in the study of the law Mr. Elliott had no assistance from others, but made his own way, paying his entire expenses by teaching.  He opened an office in Germantown, Ohio, in the spring of 1852, but business not proving so profitable as he had hoped, he in 1855 removed to the city of Dayton. Here, with the exception of three years spent in editorial work, he continued the practice of his profession, until elevated to the common pleas bench in 1871. In this position he served continuously for twenty-five years, in which time he performed an immense amount of judicial labor.   He presided in every class of cases in the nisi prius courts, criminal and civil, equitable and legal.  His predilection was always toward the equity side of the court, and notwithstanding that he sat in about 800 felony trials, and in many hundreds of civil jury trials, Judge Elliott is best known for his trial of equity, corporation and ecclesiastical cases.  He gave especial attention to railroad law, while his experience in the trial of church disputes and contests was considerable.  Of these thousands of cases, adjudged by him in the court of common pleas, his decisions in less than half a dozen civil cases, and in but one criminal case, were reversed by the supreme court, and in the latter case the law was so clearly with Judge Elliott that the legislature ultimately amended the statute to correspond with his views of the criminal law. In a recent work, entitled "The History of Dayton," the author of the department allotted to the "Bench and Bar," the Hon. Geo. W. Houk, himself an accomplished lawyer, makes this highly complimentary statement: "No judge ever so long discharged judicial functions in Montgomery county since its organization as Judge Elliott. The judicial qualities of mind, possessing a strong sense of natural justice, and well learned in the elementary principles of the law, have been developed by long experience and conscientious devotion to duty into rare excellence." In politics Judge Elliott was always a democrat, although during his service on the bench he was not actively identified with party politics. Judge Elliott always took a deep interest in educational matters, serving with much ability on the board of education of Dayton for the period of six years.  In religion he was both by education and by inclination a Methodist, which church bestowed upon him its highest honors. He was a member of every electoral conference of his jurisdiction after the introduction of lay-representation, and also served as a member of the general conference of the church. In 1844, at the request of the bishops, he attended the centennial of Methodism, at Baltimore, as the representative of the laity of the Cincinnati conference. Judge Elliott was especially prominent in the organization of the State Bar association.  Upon the death of the lamented Gen. Durbin Ward, he succeeded that eminent lawyer as chairman of the committee of this association on judicial administration and legal reform, in which position, as elsewhere, he did much toward advancing law reform in Ohio. In this capacity, too, he wrote and submitted to the State Bar association, in 1885, an elaborate report in favor of codification, which report was endorsed by the association. He had much to do with preparing the bill for the organization of the new circuit court. At the meeting of the State Bar association, held at Put-in-Bay, July, 1890, Judge Elliott was elected, by a unanimous vote, president for the ensuing year. In May, 1888, he attended a convention called at the national capital for the purpose of organizing a national bar association, in which body he was likewise active. In 1850 Judge Elliott was married to Rebecca, daughter of John and Rebecca Snavely. Of the five children born to them but two daughters are now living.

Judge Elliott died June 25, 1896, having continued for months, even under the burden and distress of failing health and increasing feebleness of body, to give conscientious and laborious attention to the duties of his office. After a quarter century of faithful and devoted service, in which he had won the love and respect of the bar and of the community, he passed away full of years and of honor. His fine record as a jurist, his pure personal character, his never-failing sympathy for the younger members of the bar, his certain interest in every movement for the public weal, the goodness and usefulness of his life, these will long remain fresh in the memory of the people to whom Henderson Elliott gave the fullness of his intellectual strength and of his moral nature.

 

ROBERT W. STEELE, [pages 175-176] deceased, was one of the foremost citizens of Dayton, Ohio, and did much toward the advancement of the literary, educational and social interests of the city.  He was a native of Dayton, born on July 3, 1819, and was a son of James Steele, who came to Dayton from Kentucky in 1805.

James Steele was a native of Rockingham county, Va., born October 28, 1778.  He was of Scotch-Irish ancestry, his family having emigrated from the north of Ireland to Virginia in 1737.  Robert Steele, father of James, removed from Virginia to Kentucky in 1788, settling in Fayette county.  In 1812 James Steele married Miss Phebe Pierce, a sister to Joseph Pierce, with whom he was engaged in merchandizing in Dayton for many years. Isaac Pierce, father of Mrs. Steele, was a member of the Ohio company, and came to Marietta, Ohio, from Rhode Island in 1788, with the first colony that settled in this state. During the war of 1812 a company of soldiers was led by James Steele to the relief of the people in the vicinity of Piqua, who were supposed to be in danger from the Indians assembled in council near that place.  With a portion of this company, Capt. Steele was retained in the service by order of Gen. Harrison, and was sent to St. Mary's, where a block house was erected and commanded by Capt. Steele for several weeks.

In 1824 Capt. Steele was a presidential elector, and cast his vote for Henry Clay. He served as associate judge for Montgomery county for fourteen years, and as state senator for four years. He was one of the original stockholders of the Woodland Cemetery association. In 1815 he was a director in the Dayton bank, and in 1822 was elected president of that institution, a position he held the remainder of his life. He died August 22, 1841.

Robert W. Steele was prepared for college in the old Dayton academy, and entered Miami university in 1836. In 1857 he was appointed a trustee of Miami university, a position he held for nine years. After leaving college, Mr. Steele read law in Dayton, but on account of delicate health was advised by his physician against a continuance of those studies.  Upon the organization of the public schools of Dayton, under the first charter of the city, Mr. Steele was appointed a member of the board of education, and served as such for a period of thirty years, during twelve of which he was president of the board. In 1847 he was one of the founders of the Dayton Library association, and was for many years a director and president of the same. In 1860, when the Library association was united with the public library, he was appointed, by the board of education, chairman of the library committee, and served in that capacity until 1873. In 1876 Mr. Steele was appointed a member of the board of city examiners for the public schools, and in 1888 a member of the library board, then made an independent body. In 1866 he was appointed by Gov. Cox a member the state board of charities, and served for five years.  In 1844 Mr. Steele was one of the incorporators of Cooper Female seminary, and served as a member of the board of trustees as long as the institution existed. He was secretary of Woodland Cemetery association from .1853 to 1858, being elected president of the association in the latter year and continuing as such until his death. He was one of the earliest members of the Montgomery county Agricultural association, and an active member of the several horticultural societies which were established in the county, and was elected a member of the state board of agriculture. In 1853 he had charge of the first state fair held in Dayton.  He was active in promoting the interests . of early railroads entering Dayton, and was especially active and patriotic during the Civil war.

Mr. Steele served as a member of the military committee of Montgomery county, was a member of the sanitary committee, and chairman of the citizens' committee to assist in raising the Ninety-third regiment of Ohio volunteers. He aided in the organization of the Young Men's Christian association, and was its first president.  He served six years as trustee of the Children's home, beginning with its establishment in 1867.  He was a member of the Presbyterian church from 1841, and an elder in the Third Presbyterian church from 1854 until his death, which occurred September 24, 1891. He left a widow, and four daughters and two sons, as follows: Mary D., who died February 25, 1897; Sarah S., Agnes C., Charlotte, William and Egbert.

 

DAVID ANSLIE SINCLAIR, [page 176] secretary of the Young Men's Christian association of Dayton, Ohio, was born near Edinburg, Scotland, in May, 1850, and at the age of three years was brought to America by his parents, who settled in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.   Until twelve years of age, young Sinclair attended the public schools of the city of Hamilton, and then relinquished his studies in order to devote his time and attention to the support of the family, who needed his assistance.  In September, 1870, he united with the Presbyterian church, and in 1871 became general secretary of the Young Men's Christian association of Hamilton; in August, 1874, he accepted the position of general secretary of the Young Men's Christian association of Dayton, which position he has acceptably filled up to the present time.

It is worthy of note that when Mr. Sinclair assumed the duties of his present office the association consisted of 300 members only, possessed no property, and was burdened with a debt of $1,800. It now has a membership of over 1,800, has property valued at $82,000, and is free of debt or other incumbrance; and it is largely through the efforts of Mr. Sinclair that this prosperous state of affairs has been reached.   He is foremost in promoting the best interests of the young men of the city, and the powerful influence for good now wielded by the association is largely due to his wisdom, strong judgment and broad conception of the possible usefulness of the organization.

 

BENJAMIN and WILLIAM  VAN CLEVE. [page 176-177] —Among the original settlers of Dayton, were Benjamin and William Van Cleve, who, with their mother, Mrs. Catherine Thompson, her husband, Samuel Thompson, and their two daughters, Sarah and Martha, left Cincinnati in March, 1796, for Dayton. All the family save William made the trip by water, he coming by land with other settlers, in order to drive the family cow. The pirogue containing the family landed at the head of St. Clair street (now Van Cleve Park) on Friday, April 1, 1796. Mrs. Thompson was the first to step ashore, and she was the first white woman to set foot on Dayton soil. Samuel Thompson, second husband of Mrs. Van Cleve, was a native of Pennsylvania, who removed to Cincinnati soon after its settlement, and there married the widow of John Van Cleve.  Mr. Thompson was drowned in Mad river in 1817. His widow died in Dayton, August 6, 1837.

Benjamin and William Van Cleve were born in Monmouth county, N. J., the former in 1773 and the latter in 1777, and were the sons of John and Catherine (Benham) Van Cleve. The father served with the New Jersey militia during nearly the whole of the Revolution. In 1785 he emigrated from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, where he lived on a farm near Washington until 1789, when he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, making the journey down the river in a. boat.  He was killed by the Indians in Cincinnati June 1, 1790. After the death of his father, Benjamin Van Cleve, then seventeen years of age, tried as best he could to take the place of the head of the family. Much of the time from 1791 until 1794 he was employed in the quartermaster's department:, at Washington.  He branded and herded government horses and cattle, brought up boat loads of salt and provisions from Kentucky, accompanied brigades of loaded pack horses to the headquarters of St. Clair's army in the Indian country; carried orders, kept accounts, acted as hostler for his uncle and himself, often walking many miles over icy roads or through snow, slush and mud, earning his wages of fifteen dollars per month by hard, rough work. He was present at St. Clair's defeat. In making the retreat with the army to Cincinnati he lost his clothing and his horse. In the spring of 1792, lie was sent off from Cincinnati at midnight, at a moment's notice, by the quartermaster-general to carry dispatches to the war department at Philadelphia. In the spring of 1794, he went with Hugh Wilson, commissary, William Gahagan, and others, down the Ohio to Fort Massac, in charge of two contractors' boats, loaded with provisions and accompanied by a detachment of troops. In the fall of 1795 he accompanied Capt. Dunlap's party to make the survey for the Dayton settlement.  When not surveying he wrote in the recorder's office.  In the fall of 1796 (the year of the settlement of Dayton) he went with Israel Ludlow and Gen. William C. Schenck to survey the United States military lands between the Scioto and Muskingum rivers.  From this time on he farmed in summer, and in winter he also studied surveying, or assisted the clerk of the Ohio legislature, or made out the list of taxable persons and their property.  On August 28, 1800, he married Mary Whitten, daughter of John and Phebe Whitten, who lived in Wayne township.  In the winter of 1799-1800 he taught the first school opened in Dayton.  From the organization of Montgomery county, in 1803, until his death, in 1821, he was clerk of the court. He was the first postmaster of Dayton, serving from 1804 until 1821.  In 1805 he was one of the incorporators of the Dayton library.  In 1809 he was appointed by the legislature a member of the first board of trustees of Miami university.  He was also an active member of the First Presbyterian church.

William Van Cleve, brother of Benjamin, was twice married, and by his first wife, Effie Westfall, had several children.  At the first call for troops, in 1812, he raised a company of riflemen in Dayton and went to the front with the company, as captain, in June of that year.

From the close of the war until his death, in 1828, he kept a tavern at the junction of Warren and Jefferson streets in Dayton.

 

JUDGE DANIEL A. HAYNES  [pages 177-178] was one of the ablest jurists of Ohio,  and one of the most prominent members of the Dayton bar. He was born in Chatham, Columbia county, N. Y., September 9, 181 5, a son of Daniel and Magdalena (Simmonds) Haynes, the former a native of Hampden county, Mass., and the latter of New York. The former was a physician of more than ordinary skill and note in his community.

Judge Haynes was graduated from Union college, Schenectady, N. Y., in 1835. Soon afterward he came to Ohio, locating in Dayton. The first year in Dayton he spent as teacher of the Dayton academy, after which he began the study of law, and was admitted to practice in 1839. In 1840 he began practice in partnership with the late Henry Stoddard. In 1843 he was elected prosecuting .attorney for Montgomery county, and was re-elected in 1845. In 1844 he was elected to the Ohio legislature. In 1856 the superior court of Montgomery county was created, and Judge Haynes was elected judge of the same, was re-elected to that bench in 1860 and again in 1865, and resigned in 1870, after having held the position for fourteen , years. Upon retiring from the bench Judge Haynes associated himself in the law practice with Hon. Clement L. Vallandigham, which partnership was terminated by the death of Mr. Vallandigham in 1871. In 1875 Judge Haynes was again elected to the bench of the superior court and served another full term, retiring in 1881.   His death occurred in 1895. Judge Haynes was at one time a director in the Dayton & Western Railroad company, and was also, for a time, president of the Dayton bank, the leading banking house of its day in Dayton. He was also president of the Dayton Insurance company. On June 13, 1848, Judge Haynes was married to Emily, daughter of Gen. Sampson Mason, of Springfield, Ohio. Her death occurred September 2, 1848.

This outline of the professional and judicial career of Daniel A. Haynes gives no hint of his great ability as a lawyer or of his exceptional equipment as a judge. His knowledge of legal principles seemed almost intuitive; his mind had a broad grasp and a keen power of analysis; his memory was both retentive and accurate, enabling him to carry without confusion the questions of law and of fact involved in a score of cases reserved for his decision at the same time.  No judge in the history of Ohio has ever surpassed Judge Haynes in the clearness, sound reasoning and inherent justice of his decisions.

 

JOHN H. PATTERSON, [pages 178-181] a prominent  manufacturer of Dayton, Ohio, is the son of Jefferson and Julia (Johnston) Patterson, and a grandson of Col. Robert Patterson, a pioneer in the settlement of Kentucky, and, later, one of the three original proprietors of Cincinnati.

Mr. Patterson was born on his father's farm, the original homestead, which lay south of Dayton, and early in life developed the habits of industry and perseverance which have enabled him to carry great enterprises to a successful termination. In his early years he spent his leisure hours in assisting in his father's sawmill and gristmill, and in the general work of the farm, until he was eighteen years of age. The next three years were spent at Miami college, Oxford, Ohio, where he pursued a classical course of study. His senior year was passed at Dartmouth college.  After he was graduated, he returned to his native place, where he secured a position as collector of tolls on the Miami canal. Three years later he gave up this position and engaged in the retail coal business in Dayton.  He then became interested in coal mining at Coalton, in Jackson county, Ohio, and assisted, in company with John H. Winters, George Harshman and others, in pushing to completion the D. & S. E. railroad, which was built for the purpose of introducing Jackson coal into southern Ohio,  He continued in the mining business for several years, after which he accepted the position of manager for the Southern Ohio Coal & Iron company, with offices located at Dayton.

Mr. Patterson's real life work has been the perfection and introduction of cash registers. He became interested in this great industry in 1882,.and from that time he has been intimately connected with its development. The National Manufacturing company was organized in 1882 for the manufacture of these machines, with a capital stock of $10,000, held by Dayton citizens. In 1883 Mr. Patterson became a director in the company, and the capital stock was increased to $15,000, the added shares being taken by Mr. Patterson and his brother.  Little progress was made until 1885, when the company was reorganized.  Mr. Patterson then gave up all connection with the coal business, and, with his brother, Frank J. Patterson, devoted his entire attention to the cash register industry, becoming the president and manager of the company.  In 1886 the capital stock of the National Cash Register company, as it is now called, was increased to $100,000, and, in 1891 was again increased to $500,000. The factory covers five and three-fourths acres of ground; it turns out a cash register every fifteen minutes, and the number of machines in use has long since passed the one hundred thousand mark.

Mr. Patterson is the captain of an industrial army of 1000 men and 200 women in the factory at Dayton, and 300 agents scattered over nearly all the world. The factory is governed, not by a superintendent, but by a committee of five expert mechanics of the broadest experience in the manufacture of cash registers.  Under this committee are a number of sub-committees, which absorb a vast amount of detail work, making the running of the plant almost automatic, so far as the necessity for the personal attention of its officers is concerned. A new building, 350 feet long and four stories high, has recently been erected, making the plant one of the finest factories in the world.

The company's policy is to promote from the ranks and reward merit wherever found. Mr. Patterson's plan creates enthusiasm in his little army; this is his chief aim, for he finds that enthusiasm is as necessary to success in business as in battles. The people employed form a particularly intelligent and industrious community, embracing, with their families, thousands of Dayton's most hardworking and prosperous citizens. A number of those in the employ of the company are college graduates and professional people, and the standard of education among the rank and file is constantly being raised.

Mr. Patterson is known, not only in his own state, but in the east also, as a persistent advocate of co-operation between employer and employe, and the establishment of the "new factory system," of which his own factory is the embodiment.  He has spoken and written forcibly upon labor questions, and also upon questions of municipal and legislative reform, and is universally recognized for his public spirit.  Out of a ripe. business experience, he has learned the secret of sharing prosperity with those who work for him, while steadily and materially building up a great business.

 

DEWITT C. SPINNING, [pages 181-183] now living in retirement at No, 401 West First street, Dayton, Ohio, is a native of this city, and was born May 14, l821. His parents were Benjamin R. and Maria (Simpson) Spinning, the former of whom was a native of New Jersey, was a contractor and builder by occupation, settled in Dayton in 1814, and here died at the early age of thirty years, in 1823, his wife following him to the grave one year later. Of the four children born to these parents DeWitt C. was the youngest and is the only survivor. The eldest, Charity Ann, was married to Caleb Birchell, and died at about sixty years of age, in Springfield, Ill.; Eliza Jane became the wife of Nathan Allen, and died in Dayton, Ohio; and Alexander, a cabinetmaker, died in Braidwood, Ill., when about seventy-four years old.

DeWitt C. Spinning has no recollection of his parents, but remembers that, after their death, he lived for a short time with his maternal grandparents, and then with strangers, working on a farm from the age of twelve until sixteen, and that, although he did a man's work, his compensation was very meager. At the age of sixteen he began an apprenticeship at the carpenter's trade in Dayton, and followed that calling for about fifteen years, and then embarked in the lumber trade in partnership with Daniel Beckel, now deceased. After a period of five years spent in this connection, Mr. Spinning bought out the interest of Mr. Beckel, continued the business alone for fifteen years, and thus laid the foundation of his later success. Disposing of his lumber interests, Mr. Spinning and two associates purchased the gas works at Urbana—his partners being Joseph Light and Charles Kiefer. Later Mr. Light and DeWitt C. Spinning purchased the Piqua, Ohio, gas plant, Mr. Spinning being president of both companies for about eighteen years. These two companies realized considerable profit, and although the Piqua plant has been disposed of, Mr. Spinning is still the president of the Urbana company, which is carried on under the style of the Urbana Gas Light & Coke company. Beside attending to the duties pertaining to his present position, Mr. Spinning has spent much of his time, in recent years, in managing his real estate in Dayton, comprising numerous residences and out-lot property, all of which represent the result of his foresight and prudence, as he began his business life with no capital excepting a strong physical constitution and indomitable energy.

Mr. Spinning has been twice married. His first wife, whom he married in 1846, bore the maiden name of Hannah Eliza Wright, and with her he lived thirty-six years, her death occurring in 1882. Of the two children born to this union, Edgar died in infancy, and Frank, a young man of great promise—an architect and draftsman, of Chicago, Ill.—died of congestion of the brain. The second marriage of Mr. Spinning was solemnized March 20, 1883, with Miss Annie Corson, a native of Wapello, Louisa county, Iowa, but most of whose child-hood and early womanhood was passed in Washington, D. C., where she was residing with her parents at the time of her marriage. Her father and mother, John and Clara (Lanston) Corson, are now residents of Dayton, although they were for many years residents of the national capital, where the father held various positions under the United States government.

Mr. Spinning was made a Mason in Dayton in May, 1842, and two years later became an Odd Fellow, and still retains his membership in both orders. In Masonry he is a member of St. John's lodge, No. 13, in which he has held all the official positions, as well as in the chapter; the consistory degrees were conferred upon him in Cincinnati in 1867, he having now attained the thirty-second degree in this grand fraternity. In politics he was a whig until the organization of the republican party, since when his adherence to the latter .has been unswerving.

The Spinning family is of Scotch origin, and the Simpson family of German extraction, and both the grandfathers of Mr. Spinning were patriots of the Revolutionary war. The Corson family is also of Scotch descent. John Corson, the grandfather of Mrs. Spinning, was born in Dumfries, Scotland, emigrated to this country in 1807, and was married to a daughter of Selah Benton, who was a captain in the Revolutionary war. Mr. Corson died in New York city in 1812.

 

ELIAM E. BARNEY, [pages 183-184] deceased, prominent educator and manufacturer of Dayton, Ohio, was a native of Adams, Jefferson county, N. Y., and was born on October 14, 1807. He was the son of Benjamin and Nancy (Potter) Barney, the former a native of Guilford, Vt., and the latter of Connecticut. Benjamin Barney was a strong advocate of education, and was one of the founders of Union academy at Belleville, Jefferson county, N. Y. For more than fifty years this academy has been a successful institution of learning, and has reflected much credit upon its founders. Eliam E. Barney acquired his elementary education in the common schools, following which he taught school during one or two winters. He was prepared for college at Lowville academy, New York, and at Union academy at Belleville, that state, and entered the sophomore class at Union college, Schenectady, from which institution he was graduated in 1831, After teaching for a brief period in a family boarding-school at Sand Lake, N. Y., Mr. Barney became principal of the Lowville academy, where he remained two years. In the year 1833 became to Ohio and taught for six months in Granville college (now Dennison university), filling the place of one of the professors who had been elected but had not yet arrived. In the spring of 1834 he came to Dayton and was principal of the Dayton academy from 1834 to 1838. During the following two years he taught a private school for both sexes, when, on account of poor health, he relinquished teaching and for four years was engaged in the lumber business. In the meantime the Cooper Female academy had been established, and Mr. Barney was called to the charge of it as principal in 1845, and so continued until 1851. This closed his career as a teacher. His teaching from first to last was attended with great success, and he attained a high reputation as an educator. His education and the range of his information were ample, and he possessed a rare faculty of communicating knowledge to his pupils. He seemed without difficulty to reach the understanding and to compel a ready apprehension of all he sought to teach. His discipline was strict, but his kindness at the same time was so manifest that he secured alike the pupils' respect, affection and obedience.

In the summer of 1850, in company with E. Thresher, Mr. Barney established the Dayton Car works. Their capital was limited, and the business was carried on upon a small scale, and prudently, but successfully.  In 1854 Caleb Parker succeeded Mr. Thresher in the firm, and from that time on until 1854 the business, which had greatly increased, was conducted under the firm name of Barney, Parker & Co. Mr. Parker then sold out to Mr. Preserved Smith, the firm becoming Barney, Smith & Co., and was so continued until 1867, when a joint stock company was formed under the name of Barney & Smith Manufacturing company, of which Mr. Barney became the president, and so continued until his death. To Mr. Barney is due in a great measure the wonderful growth and success of the business of the above concern. He was a man of great ability, bold but prudent, clear-headed, far-sighted, energetic, practical and thoroughly familiar with business in general and in detail.

Mr. Barney had varied and important business interests aside from the car works. He was president of the Dayton Hydraulic company from its organization until his death, and vice-president and director of the Second National bank of Dayton. For twenty years he was a member of the board of trustees of Dennison university, to which institution he gave liberally to endow two memorial professorships. He was for many years prominently connected with the First Baptist church of Dayton.

On October 10, 1834, Mr. Barney was married to Julia, daughter of Dudley Smith, of Galway, Saratoga county, N. Y., and they became the parents of the following' named children: Mrs. Agnes E. Platt, Eugene J. Barney, Mrs. Mary L. Platt, Albin C. Barney and Edward E. Barney (deceased).

 

ISAAC VAN AUSDAL, [pages 184-188] representative citizen and merchant of Dayton, Ohio, is a native of the Buckeye state, having been born at Eaton, in Preble county, Ohio, February 13, 1821. He is the son of Cornelius and Martha (Bilba) Van Ausdal, both natives of Virginia. Cornelius Van Ausdal was born in Berkeley county, Va., on October 2, 1783, and was there reared to manhood. At about the time that he attained his majority he came west to Ohio and spent the winter with his brother Peter, who had shortly before settled in the wilderness in what is now Lanier township, Preble county.; Being much. pleased with the west, and finding an opportunity, Cornelius determined to make his start in life in the above section.  In the spring of 1805 he returned to his home in Virginia, and the following spring he again turned his face toward Ohio, reaching what is now Preble county during that summer, with a wagon loaded with plain, substantial goods. The town of Eaton was then being laid out, and was already talked of as the prospective seat of the county, which must some day be erected from the western portion of Montgomery county.  Our young merchant decided to open a store in Eaton, but before he could find a building he had customers, selling his goods direct from the Conestoga wagon in which they were transported from; the seaboard. He opened the first store in Eaton in a log cabin. His second wagon load of goods he got from Cincinnati. His reputation as a good business man and wide-awake merchant grew from the very first day of business.  There was very little money in the country at that time, and he received in exchange for his goods the various products of the country, such as furs, skins, beeswax, maple sugar, ginseng and pearl-ash. With these articles, or the money which they brought, he secured more goods, and as the settlement of the county increased, he enlarged his trade, and within a few years was considered one of the most substantial business men in northwestern Ohio.  Mr. Van Ausdal's reputation won for him more than a local field at of custom, and for many years he carried on a wholesale as well as a retail business.  During his early career he dealt largely with the Indians, who dwelt in or roamed through southwestern Ohio and that part of Indiana adjoining. Among them was Tecumseh, the famous Shawnee war-chief, with whom the storekeeper was as intimately acquainted as with any white man in the county.  In 1810 Mr. Van Ausdal was appointed United States deputy marshal, and in that capacity took the first census of Preble county.  In the war of 1812 he was a paymaster of the army, and a large amount of public money was disbursed by him.  He faithfully discharged his duty, and upon the close of the war, when his accounts were examined at Washington, they were allowed without delay or expense. In the year 1819 he was elected to the Ohio legislature, in which body he served with entire satisfaction to his constituents. Gen. William Henry Harrison was a colleague of Mr. Van Ausdal in that session of the legislature, and the two became intimate friends. During the campaign of 1840 Gen. Harrison was present at a political meeting held in Eaton, at which time he was the guest of Mr. Van Ausdal. At about the time Mr. Van Ausdal entered the legislature he became the owner of the Western Telegraph, a weekly paper published at Eaton, which he subsequently sold.   From 1828 until 1833 Mr. Van Ausdal was engaged in the wholesale dry-goods business on Main street in Cincinnati, the firm name being Van Ausdal, Hatch & Gray, and during that period he passed the greater part of his time in New York city as purchaser for his house. Between the years 1828 and 1832 he was also a partner in the pork business with his brother-in-law, Judge Curry, in Hamilton, Ohio.  In 1846 he became interested in business with his son Isaac in Dayton, the firm name being C. Van Ausdal & Son. This continued until 1863, when Cornelius withdrew from the firm and retired to private life, and his death occurred on August 10, 1870. Mr. Van Ausdal was a broad, public-spirited man, and as much concerned in advancing the welfare of the community as in forwarding his own interests.  His reputation for honesty and fair dealing was unexcelled. It was this reputation, constantly extending, which drew to him the enormous business from which he accumulated an independence, and which made him one of the first merchants in this section of Ohio. He was rigidly moral in all the relations of life, and thoroughly and conscientiously religious, and he practiced his religion in all walks of life.

The marriage of Mr. Van Ausdal and Martha Bilba took place on July 24, 1812, and they became the parents of the following children: John, born October 16, 1814, now deceased; Sarah, born January 17, 1817, now deceased; Lucinda (Donohoe), born September 3, 1818; Isaac, born February 13, 1821; Julian, born June 29, 1824, deceased; Rufus Leavitt, twin brother to Harvey Buell, born June 1, 1830, deceased; Harvey Buell, born June 1, 1830; Emily (Gould), born February 17, 1835, and Sarah Ann (Nelson), born May 29, 1840. An infant was also born that died unnamed.

Isaac Van Ausdal, the subject of this biography, acquired his early education in the common schools of Eaton, afterward attending Miami university, at Oxford, Ohio, from which he. graduated in 1842.  In 1845 he came to Dayton and embarked in the dry-goods business, in partnership with Daniel McCleary, of Rossville, Ohio, that gentleman having been his class-mate at Oxford. This co-partnership, under the firm name of Van Ausdal & McCleary, lasted for only one year, when Mr. Van Ausdal purchased this partner's interest. During the same year, however, his father, Cornelius Van Ausdal, became a partner in the business, the firm becoming, C. Van Ausdal & Son, and continuing so until the withdrawal of the senior member in 1863. Up to 1886 several changes were made in the firm, but in the year last named, the style of the firm was changed to that of the present time, I. & C. Van Ausdal, Charles Van Ausdal, son of Isaac, becoming a member. When the house was first established only dry goods was dealt in. Later it was merged into the carpet trade, being the first to engage in that specialty in Dayton, and to this was added from time to time almost every article needed for fitting up a household. As far back as 1859 the dry-goods department was entirely abandoned. In its line, this is the leading house in Dayton, and enjoys a trade of large and increasing proportions. Its reputation for sound business principles is well known throughout all this section of the state, and draws its trade, not only from Dayton and Montgomery county but from the adjoining counties and territory. Aside from the above interests Mr. Van Ausdal is connected in a business way, as a stockholder and director, with several of the large and important corporations of the city. He is a stockholder in the Third National, Fourth National, and Teutonia National banks, three of the leading banking corporations of Dayton, and is a stockholder in the Firemans, the Ohio, and the Columbia Insurance companies, also of Dayton. He has other financial interests, whose general nature is indicated by those cited.

Mr. Van Ausdal was married in June, 1855, to Mary C., the daughter of Orlistus Roberts, of Preble county, Ohio, and to this union seven children .have been born, as follows: Robert, who died at the age of seventeen years; Cornelius, who died at the age of seven years; Mary, a graduate of Smith college, Mass., and now living at home with her parents; Charles, who graduated from Princeton university, and is now a member of the firm of I. & C. Van Ausdal; Laura, a graduate from Bradford's seminary, Mass., and who is now Mrs. Charles G. Stoddard, of Dayton; Thomas E., who was also a collegian and was for a longtime a business associate with his father, but whose death occurred in 1895, he leaving a widow (Margaret, the daughter of George L. Phillips, of Dayton); Catherine C., who is a graduate of the Comstock school, of New York city, and is now at home with her parents.

For over fifty years Isaac Van Ausdal has been a citizen and business man of Dayton, and during all that time his success has been uniform.   His mercantile career has been not only a successful, but an honest one. While he has confined himself closely to business, yet he has not neglected the duties incumbent upon all good citizens. He has always been found on the right side of public questions and movements looking towards the betterment and building up of Dayton, and he has ever been ready to lend his aid and influence to help along such movements. As a business man and financier he is regarded as one of the most able in the city. Shrewd, sound and conservative, he has made but few mistakes in a long and active career. As a man he is possessed of sterling traits and characteristics which have won for him a large circle of warm friends who stand ready to testify to his worth and excellence.

 

CHARLES VAN AUSDAL, [page 188] merchant, and member of the firm of I. & C. Van Ausdal, of Dayton, was born in Dayton, Ohio, on July 26, 1863, and is the son of Isaac and Mary C. (Roberts) Van Ausdal. He was educated in the Dayton public schools and at Princeton university, graduating from the latter place in 1885. In 1886 he became associated with his father in business in Dayton, becoming the junior member of the firm of I. & C. Van Ausdal. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity.

He was married on January 31, 1888, to Susie, the daughter of H. H. Weakley, proprietor of the Dayton Daily Herald. Mr. and Mrs. Van Ausdal have three children: Charlotte, Herbert Weakley and Catherine.

 

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