Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio
Pages 874-892 N. H. Brookins to John Henry Prinz

N. H. BROOKINS, [pages 874-875] member of the Dayton city council from the Fourth ward, and secretary and treasurer of the Mathias Planing Mill company, was born in Madison township, Montgomery county, Ohio, October 14, 1858. He is a son of Richard R. and Christina (Holsapple) Brookins, the former having been born in Maryland of Scotch parents, and the latter in Madison township, Montgomery county, Ohio.

Richard R, Brookins came to Montgomery county when a boy, and here grew to manhood. He was engaged in the saw-mill and brick manufacture until his enlistment, in 1861, in company I, Ninety-third regiment, Ohio volunteer infantry. On the first day's fighting at Chickamauga he was taken prisoner and was incarcerated in Libby prison at Richmond, Va., where he died January 21, 1864. His wife survived him until July 21, 1893, There were five children born to the parents, three of whom are now living: Joseph H., of Anderson, Ind.; Martha A., now the wife of A. F. Allaman, of Montgomery county, Ohio, and our subject.

N. H, Brookins was reared on a farm in Madison township, and was educated in the public schools; he also attended the National normal college at Lebanon, and while there taught school during the winters. At the age of nineteen years he began teaching, and continued for nine years, in Montgomery county. While teaching he learned bookkeeping and shorthand at A. D. Wilt's Commercial college, and in 1889 took a position with S. N. Brown & Co., of Dayton, where he continued until 1893, when he became interested in the Mathias Planing Mill company, being made secretary and treasurer of the company.

Mr. Brookins was married in 1880 to Clara Belle Spitler, of Perry township, Montgomery county. To them four children have been born, viz: Alpharetta, John C., Walter R. and N. Orville.  Mr. Brookins was first elected to the Dayton city council in the spring of 1894. for the term of two years. He is a member of Hope lodge, No. 277, K. of P., and of Oak lodge, I. 0. 0. F., of New Lebanon, and of Dayton lodge, No. 147, F. & A. M. Mr. Brookins is one of Dayton's deservedly successful young business men, and, in his service in public office, has become known as one of her most useful and reliable citizens. He and his family occupy a pleasant and prominent place in the social life of the West Side, which is almost a city by itself and whose people are among the most progressive and prosperous to be found in Dayton.

 

BENJAMIN F. McCANN, [page 875] attorney, of Dayton, was born near Zanesville, Muskingum county, Ohio, January 22, 1861, and is a son of Thomas A. and Jane (McKee) McCann. The mother was born near Cadiz, in Harrison county, and the father in Muskingum. Both parents are now deceased. Their grandparents came from the old country.

Benjamin F. McCann was admitted to the bar of Ohio in June, 1890, and then went to Europe, remaining until the following October, when he returned and began practice. He was appointed police prosecutor of Dayton in 1892 and reappointed in 1895, the term of the office being three years. Mr. McCann is one of the best known of the younger members of the Dayton bar and enjoys not only a high professional standing, but a position of strength and influence in the general community. His discharge of the duties of his office has been marked by fidelity and efficiency, and his selection by the board of police directors for a second term met with public approbation.

 

WlLLIAM L. DARROW (deceased), [pages 875-877] who resided in Dayton, Ohio, for more than fifty years, was born in Portage county, Ohio, October 15, 1816. He was a son of James and Betsey (Pease) Darrow, both natives of western New York. They were the parents of four children, one of whom is still living, viz: Harriet, widow of Jonas Butterfield of Cincinnati. James Darrow and his wife were members of the Baptist church. W. L. Darrow's mother died when he was fourteen years old, his father living for many years in Warren county, where he died June 11, 1875, at the age of eighty-six. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and a farmer by occupation. The Darrow family is of Scottish origin, and the earliest ancestor in this country settled in New London, Conn., in 1696; thence the family moved to western New York, where most of the descendants now reside, and where they hold an annual reunion.

William L. Darrow was reared in Warren county, Ohio, until he was sixteen years of age, as a farmer's boy, and then began the serious work of life for himself. He started a tannery on Jefferson street, Dayton, Ohio, and continued this for some years, also operating another tannery in Marion. On account of scarcity of bark in this region he removed his tannery to Vanceburg, Ky., where his brother, James, managed the business for him. While the business was being conducted in Kentucky, William L. Darrow continued to reside in Dayton, where for forty-five years he also had a leather store.  His death occurred in this city, February 1, 1891.

William L. Darrow was married to Miss Permilla John, daughter of John and Virginia (McFarland) John. To this marriage there were born six children, as follows: James Madison; Harriet A. E., who died while attending high school in Dayton; Millie, wife of John R. More, formerly of St. Louis, but for the past ten years of Dayton; Lucretia, who died in infancy, William J., who died March, 1877. The wife of William J. Darrow, who still survives him, resides in Springfield, Ohio, and has one child, Millie, wife of Harry H. Sellers, of Springfield, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Sellers have two children, Darrow and Joseph. The youngest child of William L. Darrow, Harmon P. Darrow, died in 1884, leaving one son, Willie H. Darrow, of Dayton, Ohio, now the only living descendant of W. L. Darrow, who bears the name.

Mrs. Permilla Darrow died in 1867. Her father, John John, was a son of Thomas John, who was a native of Wales, and who came to America in 1750, settling first on Welch Run, in Chester county, Pa. Thomas, Jr., the youngest son, married Elizabeth Pierpont, of Pennsylvania, and lived near Morgantown, now in Berks county, Pa., and there they reared their family of ten children. They removed to Ohio in 1797, purchased a section of land in Greene county, from the government, at $2 per acre, later located six miles east of Dayton, and lived there until their death, Mr. John dying in 1801. At his death the property was divided among his ten children, John John remaining on the part that fell to him until his death. John John served in the war of 1812, having enlisted at Dayton; the gun he carried is still preserved. There is still living on his farm his daughter, Rebecca John, a maiden lady, eighty-eight years of age, the only one of the family remaining in this part of the country.

William L. Darrow was married to his second wife, Miss Sarah R. Stewart, January 20, 1870. She was a daughter of Alexander and Rebecca (Clark) Stewart, the former of whom was a native of South Carolina, and the latter of English and Scotch descent. The name Stewart was originally spelled Stuart. Mr. and Mrs. Darrow were members of the First Baptist church, and she is still a member. She resides at his late residence, No. 390 West First street.   Her grandmother Clark came to Ohio in 1805, when her mother was a young woman. Her grandfather Stuart, or Stewart, also came to this state about the same time, both families settling in Warren county, where her father died. Mrs. Darrow's mother, who was a widow for a number of years, died in Dayton, Ohio, when ninety-six years and six months old.

Mr. Darrow was unusually modest and retiring; but, notwithstanding this, he had a large acquaintance and was well and widely known as one of the most substantial and influential men in Dayton. He was very successful in business, and his death was deeply mourned by a large circle of friends aside from the members of his family.

Maj. John R. More, who married Miss Millie Darrow, was formerly a wholesale grocer of St. Louis. When Mr. Darrow's last son died, Mr. and Mrs. More removed to Dayton. Mr. More then became associated with Mr. Darrow in business, and so continued until the latter died, Mr. More becoming his successor in the leather business. Mr. and Mrs. More live on the old home place occupied by Mr. Darrow, at No. 400 First street. They have two children, Mildred and Richard. Mildred is now the wife of Harvey Conover, and has one child, a daughter, named Dorothy.

Mr. Darrow's son, James Madison, was a soldier in the late Civil war, and after serving a few months died from the effects of a severe cold contracted while in the line of his duty. He was a member of the Dayton zouaves, and served under Col. King. The mother of Mr. Darrow, Betsey Pease, was a daughter of Capt. Abner Pease, of the northern part of Ohio. He married Abigail Blackman, daughter of Maj. Blackman, a soldier of the Revolutionary war. Thus it will be seen that the family of Mr. Darrow, in all its relations and connections, was full of patriotism, and that it represented the noble stock of the pioneer, now seldom found, except in the western states, but to whom the state of Ohio owes so much of her present development and prominence in the affairs of the nation and in the eyes of the world.

 

JOHN WESLEY MUNDORFF, [pages 877-878] superintendent of the Foglesong Horse Collar Machinery company, Dayton, Ohio, was born in Lancaster county, Pa., November 2, 1847, and is a son of Adam and Mary (Young) Mundorff, both also natives of the Keystone state. Adam and Mary Mundorff are the parents of two children, Eliza, wife of D. H. Hensley, and John Wesley.

Adam Mundorff was a carpenter by trade, was a Baptist in religion, and died in Lancaster county, Pa., in 1850, aged thirty-two years. His wife, who is a member of the Baptist church, still survives. William Mundorff, the paternal grandfather of John Wesley Mundorff, was also a native of Pennsylvania, a teacher by profession, teaching school twenty-eight winters in succession, and served in the Mexican war. He and his wife reared a family of eleven sons and three daughters, and he died at the age of sixty-two years. The maternal grandfather was also a native of Pennsylvania, but little is now remembered of him.

The mother of John Wesley Mundorff, after the death of her husband, married, for her second husband, William Hamil.  To this marriage there was born one child, William, who is at the present time superintendent of the gas company at Hamilton, Ohio. Mr. Hamil died in 1890, and Mrs. Hamil, his widow, now sixty-nine years of age, resides at Hamilton, Ohio.

John Wesley Mundorff spent his youth chiefly in Cumberland county, Pa., receiving there a good common-school education. At the age of sixteen he began learning the trade of machinist at Hamilton, Ohio, remaining at that place until 1866, when he came to Dayton, Ohio. For five or six years previous to his present employment he was foreman of the Davis Screw company, and for the past eight years he has filled his present position, that of superintendent of the Foglesong Horse Collar Machinery company. During the thirty years of his residence in Dayton he has earned the reputation of being a careful and competent man and has discharged every duty with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his employers.

December 24, 1861, Mr. Mundorff was married to Mary Jane Marts, daughter of Solomon and Elizabeth (St. Clair) Marts. To this marriage there have been born three children, as follows: Elmer A., Earle Augustus, and Flora. Elmer A. was killed in 1892 by the White Line street railway cars, when he was nineteen years of age. The other children are living at home. Mr. and Mrs. Mundorff are excellent citizens and are members of the Hartford street United Brethren church, as also are the children. Mr. Mundorff is steward and treasurer of his church.

He is a member of the Knights of Pythias fraternity, of the Odd Fellows and of the American Mechanics. Politically, he has always been a republican. His residence is at No. 25 Portland avenue, where he lives surrounded by many sincere friends who appreciate the value of Mr. Mundorff as a citizen, and of his family as members of the church and of general society.

 

ELIHU THOMPSON, [pages 878-881] member of the Dayton bar and president of the city board of police commissioners, was born about ten miles north of Dayton, in Randolph township, Montgomery county, Ohio, October 13, 1837. He is a son of James F. and Mary Ann (Riley) Thompson, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania and were brought to Montgomery county by their parents about 1820. James F. Thompson was a son of Aaron Thompson, of Allegheny county, Pa., and Mary Ann Riley was a daughter of Isaac Riley, who died in Bedford county. Pa., his widow afterward removing to Montgomery county, this state.

James F. Thompson was by occupation a farmer, and was a very prominent and useful citizen.  For about fifteen years he served as constable for Randolph township, and was justice of the peace for six years in Jackson township. He was twice land appraiser and once a member of the Ohio legislature, all of which indicates the respect in which he was held by his fellow-citizens, and the confidence they placed in him. His death occurred December 10, 1890, when he was nearly eighty years of age.  His wife died in 1887, aged seventy-four years.

Elihu Thompson was reared on the farm until he was eighteen years of age, his early education having been secured in the country schools.  Afterward he attended the National normal school at Lebanon, Warren county, Ohio, and when nineteen years of age began teaching school, following this profession for eight years, and attending school during his vacation. While teaching and attending school, having provided himself with law books, he fitted himself largely by private study for the legal profession, entering the law college at Cleveland, Ohio, where he was graduated May 26, 1862.

On August 4, 1862, he enlisted at Miamisburg, Ohio, in company E, Ninety-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, and was captured at Lexington, Ky., when the Union forces were defeated by Gen. Kirby Smith, Mr. Thompson being at the time an inmate of the hospital. After being held a captive for about a week he was paroled, but was held within the rebel lines for ten days longer. At length he made his way out of their lines, being at the time near Patriot, Switzerland county, Ind., whence he made his way to Columbus, Ohio, reporting at Camp Chase, and was honorably discharged on account of physical disability, October 29, 1862. On December 9, 1863, he was commissioned by Gov. Tod as adjutant of the Second regiment of Ohio militia, with the rank of first lieutenant, and that position he held as long as the organization was maintained.

Soon after graduating from the Cleveland Law school Mr. Thompson was admitted to the bar, and, after returning from the war, opened an office, March 10, 1864, for the practice of his profession at Dayton, and has practiced continuously since that time.  He was in partnership for five years with W. H. Belville, for three years with James P. Whitmore, and for about one year with James A. Mumma, and since the dissolution of the last partnership he has been practicing alone.

In politics, Mr. Thompson is a democrat, and as such was elected, in 1869, prosecuting attorney for Montgomery county, and was re-elected in 1871, thus holding the office for four years.   He has twice been a member of the board of education of the city, is now a member of the city board of police commissioners, has served as president of the board for one year and is now serving a second term as member of the board. The excellent police force of the city of Dayton was organized under the direction of the present board, to whom much credit is due for the high efficiency of the department. In 1890, the bar association of Dayton elected Mr. Thompson substitute for Judge Elliott of the common pleas court, and for six months he presided on the common pleas bench with ability and to the satisfaction of the bar.

Mr. Thompson was married in May, 1865, to Miss Elina Jane Gregg, of Springboro, Warren county, Ohio. She died in September, 1866, and he was again married in September, 1868, to Miss Bell Whitmore, of Dayton. While Mrs. Thompson is a Presbyterian in her religious faith, Mr. Thompson is in sympathy with the Unitarian church.  He has given much attention to the study of theology, having written several valuable papers on theosophy, and has delivered several lectures on the latter subject in Cincinnati, Dayton and other cities. He at one time held a joint discussion on theology with Rev, Dr. Buck, of Cincinnati, before a large audience.

 

REV. MENDENHALL J. DENNIS, D. D., [pages 881-884] was born in Cornwall, England, May 5, 1833. He is a son of Rev. H. W. and Sarah (Eaker) Dennis, both of whom were natives of England, and who traced their ancestry back to the distinguished and great family of the Maccabees, which family was descended from Mattathias, the first great hero of the Jewish revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria.

Rev. H. W. Dennis and his wife, Sarah, had a family of three children, two sons and one daughter, Dr. Dennis, the subject of this sketch, being the only one of the three now living. While in his youth and earlier manhood, Rev. H. W. Dennis was educated and thoroughly trained for the ministry, yet, owing to a weakness in his vocal organs, he was obliged to relinquish the sacred calling to devote himself to business pursuits, being at one time the proprietor and manager of a large cotton factory, and later engaged in the shipping of grain from the Black sea to England. He died at the age of seventy-nine years, leaving the record of an honest and prosperous business man.

Mendenhall J. Dennis, when a boy, attended school in his native land, and like many another boy manifested no special love for intellectual effort and gave no promise of excellence in any department of literature. For one branch of human effort, however, he evinced a decided predilection, that of the manufacture of delicate mechanism, such as watches and philosophical and scientific instruments. This, however, as a profession, his parents denied him, and only during vacation could he avail himself of opportunities of visiting shops and factories, and of watching the operatives with an interest that, together with a work bench and some tools at home, enabled him to comprehend some of the mysteries of horology and to master some of its practical mechanisms.

At a later age he was sent to the university of Heidelberg, the oldest in Germany, where he developed a love for classical languages and literature, and from which he graduated in 1853. Two years later he took a special course in Greek and Hebrew from one of the most eminent professors of that day. The proficiency, especially in Hebrew, which he attained during that time led him to aspire to a professorship in some metropolitan institution of learning, to qualify himself for which he was sent to Palestine, the source of Hebrew learning, there further to prosecute his studies among the people where Hebrew is still a spoken language.   During a residence of several years in that land he studied not only textual Hebrew, but rabbinical Hebrew, Arabic and more or less of all the cognates of the Hebrew original.

Coming in the early part of 1861 to the United States while the Civil war was raging and the business interests of the whole country were undergoing a revolution; when colleges and institutions of learning generally languished, the prospects for a professorship in a theological institution were not encouraging. During the time of his residence in Palestine, especially in Jerusalem, Dr. Dennis had gathered enough material for a course of lectures on the Holy Land.  These he prepared and delivered in cities of Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri. He was subsequently ordained and preached for the Christian church for several years in the cities of Dayton, Ohio, and Richmond, Ky. As, on account of his early theological training, he could not very well pronounce the shibboleth of that church in all of her tenets, the relations between him and its ultra orthodox ministry became somewhat strained, and he therefore severed his connection with that communion, the church granting him letters of dismission and commending him as an able and worthy minister of the gospel, to unite with any other church where "in the providence of God his lot may be cast." From Richmond he went directly to Boston, Mass., where he remained for several years preaching as an independent evangelist in Congregational, Baptist, Reformed Episcopal and Presbyterian churches—employing also a considerable portion of his time in teaching Hebrew to private classes.

Coming back to Ohio in 1882, he deemed it his duty, since in his theological views he was more in accordance with the Westminster confession of faith than with any other of the evangelical creeds, to put himself in line with that branch of the church. He was accordingly, after the forescribed order and examination of that " confession," received by the Dayton presbytery and enrolled as a brother minister and member of that body, and has ever since served it in the function of examiner—being a member of the standing committee on examinations of licentiates and candidates for ordination, in languages and in the sciences.

As Dr. Dennis has had a work in view which he deems in a measure of greater moment to the church at large than mere pulpit ministration, he has, since his connection with the Presbyterian church, never consented to take pastoral charge of any congregation, although preaching more or less every Sabbath when an opportunity offers.

The great work of his life, and to which he gives his whole time and undivided attention, is a commentary, philological, critical and exegetical, on the Old Testament, for the basis of which he translates from the original Hebrew the commentaries of the renowned German Jewish philosopher and scholar, Moses Mendelssohn, grandfather of Felix Mendelssohn, the great musical composer. The author of those commentaries lived and wrote in the latter part of the seventeenth and the early part of the eighteenth centuries; and while all of his works were written in German, his commentaries on the Pentateuch, Psalms, and on one or two minor books of the Old Testament, were written in the purest style of Hebrew, intended for his own race, who understood that language better than any other.

In undertaking this work Dr. Dennis was not unmindful that it would' necessarily entail years of hard labor and deep thinking; long and tedious hours of study by day and by night; copious reading and the drudgery of writing, beside the cost of many and various books of reference. Such books are not on the shelves in town libraries—not always even in city libraries, and recourse must be had to foreign publishers and to book dealers abroad who alone can furnish them.

The inducements for such an undertaking are manifold—first, the fact that such a work on the Old Testament has never been published. There are numerous works of that kind on the New Testament—such, for example, as Dr. Bloomfield's Greek Testament, with English notes. Critical, Philological, and Exegetical, and that of later date, Dean Alford's .New Testament for English Readers; but upon the Old Testament there is nothing of the kind. The best commentaries on the Old Testament extant have for the most part been written by Christian authors, whose familiarity with the Hebrew language and its literature could have been neither very thorough nor extensive—a fact which they betray in their inaccuracy of citations from Hebrew authors, and even in their textual citations, to say nothing of the inadequate exegesis, erroneous interpretations and misapplications, so frequently staring the true Hebrew scholar in the face.

A second consideration as an inducement for the undertaking of such a work is the fact that a critical and philologically exegetical commentary coming from a Jewish source— from a people among whom the Hebrew language was a vernacular, whose entire and vast literature, running through fifteen centuries, was mainly an effort at exposition, elucidation and interpretation of the sacred text—could not but be most reliable and authoritative, affording to the Bible student at once a true basis upon which lo rest his faith and a means of release from conflicting and necessarily doubtful interpretations.

A third inducement is the consideration that it will render nugatory much of the so-called "higher criticism," which, for the most part, is based upon interpretations and deductions having no foundation in fact and largely due to a want of thorough understanding of the original language of the text, and to a partial acquaintance, or none, with the literature which it pretends to elucidate. From eminent scholars to whom the work, as far as it has progressed, has been shown, the author has received the most flattering encouragement, the verdict without exception being, that the work, while on account of its technical nature may not enlist the sympathy of the ordinary English reader, will, through that very technicality, commend it to theological colleges and universities as well as to the clergy at large, both Christian and Jewish.

Dr. Dennis was married early in life to a lady of eminent virtues, the only daughter of a celebrated European physician. To this union there have been born six children, four of whom are now living. The elder son, Graham Barclay Dennis, married a Miss Bradley, of Dayton, and after a short business career in this city went west, settling in Spokane, Wash., where he now resides.  In the few years that he has been there he has made a success in business; has established an enviable reputation, and has the confidence not only of his associates but also of the community at large. In partnership with a wealthy firm of Chicago he has large mining interests in Washington and Idaho, and a year or two ago was made president of the Northwestern Mining association—a position he now holds.

The second and younger son, William Bishop Dennis, is well and favorably known in Dayton, He left this city to make his home in Port Townsend, Wash., where he has large business interests and holds the position of president of the chamber of commerce.

Of the two daughters of Dr. Dennis one, Miss Julia B. Dennis, is well known in Dayton as an estimable young lady and a teacher of no mean ability. For several years she occupied the position of assistant principal in the Fourth district school.  Thence she was called to a position in the state model school, Trenton, N. J., and so marked was her success that, without solicitation on her part, she was invited by the Brooklyn board of education to take an important position in one of their high schools.  She entered upon her work in the fall of last year.

The second daughter, Miss Mary B. Dennis (now Mrs. A. B. Poland), is not so well known in Dayton as her sister. She was but a little girl when, after having finished her sixth grade grammar-school course in this city, she was sent to Daughter's college, Harrodsburg, Ky., whence dates her successful educational career.  After four years of toil she graduated from that college with the highest honors of her class, and the degree of M. S. was conferred upon her. Soon after this, she entered upon the teacher's career; taught in Paris, Ky., for two years, then at Flushing, N. Y., as assistant principal of the high school for about the same length of time.  During her engagement at Flushing she spent a summer vacation at Chautauqua, and while there inaugurated a peripatetic science club for children, which is still in vogue. To teach the children how to observe, and to excite an interest in their study of botany, she devised and composed a manual as a vade-mecum, entitled A Study of Leaves, which was afterward published by D. Appleton & Co., N. Y. The little work has since been adopted as a text book by the Brooklyn board of education. While still at Flushing she matriculated at the university of New York, and after a course of four years graduated and took the degree of Ph. D., being the only woman upon whom that degree had, up to that time, been conferred in the state of New York. At the suggestion of the superintendent of the Brooklyn schools, she took and successfully passed an examination for the principalship—an examination which no woman had ever before passed; and in recognition of that fact the Brooklyn board of education honored her with an appointment to the principalship of school No. 41, a position which she successfully filled for four consecutive years.  Miss Dennis became the bride of Dr. Addison B. Poland, superintendent of state instruction of New Jersey, on June 26, 1895. The ceremony was performed by her father, assisted by the Rev. T. B. Oliver, rector of Saint Bartholomew's. She received at that time a petition signed by all of her teachers and by the local board, asking her not to resign her position in the school, and the board of education, contrary to a long established custom which debarred a married woman from continuing in the public schools as teacher, concurred in the petition, and to this day she is still holding her position.

 

DENNIS ENSEY, [pages 884-885] who now resides at No. 35 South Tecumseh street, Dayton, Ohio, was born in what was at the time Dayton township, but is now known as Van Buren township, March 21, 1812.  He is therefore eighty-five years of age, and one of the oldest men in Montgomery county. He is a son of John and Sarah (Thompson) Ensey, the former of whom was born in Frederick county, Md., and the latter in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was two years old when brought to Dayton, and her mother, the grandmother of Dennis, was the first white woman that reached Dayton. John and Sarah Ensey were the parents of thirteen children, four of whom are still living, as follows: Dennis, Mary (wife of John Hatfield), Ephraim and William.

John Ensey was for many years a school-teacher, but later in life he became a toll-gate keeper, which position he held until old age compelled him to relinquish all active pursuits. He came to Dayton from Maryland in 1806, located southeast of the place, and lived there until April, 1825. He lived in Dayton until he was over eighty-nine years of age, his wife having died in 1864, in her seventy-first year. She was one of the good, motherly pioneer women of the early day, and was a member of the Methodist church.

The paternal grandfather, John Ensey, was born in Maryland, reared a large family of children, and died in Ohio, near Beavertown. The maternal grandfather was Samuel Thompson. He was a native of Pennsylvania, moved to Cincinnati and there married Mrs. Catherine Van Cleat, widow of Capt. Van Cleat, who was killed by the Indians. In 1796 he and his wife came up the Miami river and settled in Dayton. Afterward he was drowned in Mad river, just above its mouth, and his wife survived him until 1837, when she died.

Dennis Ensey grew to manhood in Dayton, and, with the exception of three years, has lived there all his life. He was educated in the public schools of that city, and there learned the bricklayer's trade, which he followed for some years, after which he engaged in contracting. He was one of the contractors for the erection of the first of the asylum buildings, and beside this he built many of the substantial structures of Dayton.

On April 10, 1845, he married Miss Margaret Wilson, daughter of James and Jane (Shirley) Wilson. To this marriage there were born four children, as follows: Lila G., Orvis B., Charles W. and Jennie S. Lila G. married Thomas De Armon, and has three children, viz: Margaret, Helen and Robert. Orvis B. and Charles W. are also married, and Jennie S. is single, and is living at home.

Mr. Ensey formerly was a very active Mason, but of late years, on account of failing eyesight, has been compelled to forego attendance on the meetings. His present home was erected in 1852, a handsome brick residence at No. 35 South Tecumseh street, where he and his wife have lived since June, 1855. Mrs. Ensey is a member of the Third, formerly the Park, Presbyterian church, and is a most excellent woman, wife and mother. Mr. Ensey can remember when most of the present site of the city of Dayton was covered with timber, and he has seen it grow up from the condition of a wilderness to that of a large and prosperous manufacturing city. His great age and his remarkable physical strength, together with his knowledge of the history of the country, tend to render him an object of great interest to all citizens, young and old, and all manifest toward him that tender regard and friendship to which his character and useful career so clearly entitle him.

 

SAMUEL W. HOOVER [pages 885-888] was born April 16, 1837, near Liberty, west of Dayton, Ohio, and thirty years of his life were spent in that vicinity as a farmer.

January 26, 1857, he was married to Catharine Basore. To them were born three sons —Anthony Webster, Oliver Perry, and William I. T. Anthony died in infancy; the other two and the mother survive, and the latter occupies the family residence on the West Side, Dayton.

In 1871 Mr. Hoover entered into partnership with J. W. Gaines in the nursery business, at Kinsey, Ohio, the two previous years having been spent in the employ of Kinsey & Gaines. Ten years later they were able to purchase the present fine site on the West Side, known as Star Point. To this place the plant was moved in August, 1879. The firm was incorporated into the Hoover & Gaines company in January, 1882, and of this company Mr. Hoover remained the president until his death.  He was president, also, of the Mathias Planing Mill company. This change marked the end of his active business life. He had entered the ministry of the Brethren church in August, 1882, and this was the beginning of the third period of his life—first a farmer, then a business man, and last a minister of the gospel. Although now well advanced in years, he took into the pulpit the energy of youth, and an indomitable spirit. His voice gave no uncertain sound, "growth," "progress," "development"—these were the key-words of his sermons. He saw clearly the needs of his church in missionary and educational lines.  He embraced these causes whole-heartedly and set to work to create sentiment in favor of advancement. His active ministry was spent as pastor of the West Dayton Brethren church.  The pastoral duties required much time, but he gave all absolutely without compensation, and contributed regularly to the church needs beside.  In the church council he was prompt and fearless in asserting the right of individual opinion. He made no boast of his independence, yet in the highest sense was independent. If for the time he submitted to the judgment of others, in spirit he never yielded the cause he sought to advance. Whatever were the reforms he advocated, whatever were his failures in judgment or expedients, never can it be said that he contended for anything unworthy.

He was chief in organizing the Brethren's book and tract work. The general conference located it at Dayton, Ohio, but without any means to begin the work. A few solicitors were appointed to secure contributions in the churches of the brotherhood, some of whom refused to act at all, others did but little, while the majority cried failure, but he secured a sufficient sum from friends outside the fraternity to print a few tracts; and in five years the endowment fund reached over $50,000. He was president of the institution until its consolidation with the general mission board in 1894, whereupon he became a member of its executive committee and subsequently the board placed him in charge of the mission's large orange farm in California. He served one year also as president of the Nurseryman's Protective association. One of the fundamental principles of faith of his brotherhood, is, that the members do not use the civil laws against each other. Their differences are adjusted among themselves on the basis of Matthew, xviii, or by arbitration, and many were the times that he was called to adjust some unpleasant case in family or church, and rarely did he fail to reach an amicable settlement. The day previous to his death was spent in thankless work of this kind. The case was aggravated, but he returned home that evening with a happy heart because he had brought peace to an unhappy family. His strength was almost exhausted, yet in this condition he dared to prepare for the morrow's services, which proved to be too much for his mortal powers.

Rising from poverty to wealth did not close his heart to the needs of the unfortunate. He gave liberally and no one was ever turned from his door hungry. He gave a handsome endowment to the missionary interests of the church, and aided five colleges in all. He had the ability to make money, and no doubt would have become wealthy, if he had not left business for the church's work.

He had a large circle of friends, who will remember him for his genial social qualities. Children were his fast friends, in whom he took great delight. With all his social qualities he was not a home man in the full sense of the word, but withal took a pardonable pride in his family. His active life either took him from home, or he spent it in reading, study or attention to other duties.  If for these reasons his home life was imperfect, yet his best influences were not lost in his children—both sought eagerly a college education, which he gave them, and both entered the ministry of his church. When he saw clearly a principle involved, he contended firmly for it and the triumph of the cause was a vindication of his purposes. It was his delight to preach, and he sought the opportunity, though he well knew that he was no sermonizer.  Most men would have considered that old age had set in when he entered the ministry, but he entered upon that sacred calling with the vigor of youth. What he lacked in manner he gained in practicability, for if he was not earnest and practical he was nothing.  He had no teachers, he imitated none, his methods were his own. During the earlier years of his ministry he conducted revivals during the winter season, and met with fair success. No preacher is equally strong in all lines, so he gave up revival work, after becoming a member of the general missionary board, finding that work more suited to him.

The one word which expresses best the sum of his characteristics, is action.  He did nothing slowly, and knew not how to conserve his powers. He would press on to the point of exhaustion if he saw that anything depended upon him. He was always a prominent figure on the street, because of his quick step.  His outward activity was the reflex of a life within. He lived and worked faster than most men, and thus reached his end before the allotted length of life. He was not great as men look upon greatness, but he filled an important position, and was a leader among his people.

He was not overtaken by old age or infirmity.  He was not ripe for the grave.  He was pressing on with indomitable will into larger usefulness.  He had often expressed a desire to die in active work, but never did he suppose that his would be a tragic end—not to say sacred, for God had erected a pulpit for his death-bed. On that last Sunday, March 10, 1895, he preached with unusual energy in the morning.  The afternoon was spent in study for the evening service, upon which he entered somewhat weary, but with the energy and will that were so characteristic of him. His text was, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he reap." As he was nearing the end his words became prophetic, "One by one we are passing over," and in an instant his great soul stepped into the eternal world. Two weeks later, after the return of his eldest son from the university at Leipzig, Germany, his body was laid away in the family burying-ground.

Jacob Hoover, born in 1813, died in 1895, the father of S. W. Hoover, was a pioneer in Montgomery county. He came from Momson's Grove, Pa., in 1821, and settled west of Dayton. His first wife died thirty-two years ago. The last few years of his life were spent with his daughter, Mrs. S. Bock, of the West Side. He died October 22, 1895. Mrs. Catherine Hoover, wife of S. W. Hoover, was born May 31, 1841. She occupies the home residence on the West Side.

Oliver Perry Hoover, to whom the publishers are indebted for this memoir, born March 31, 1864, was the second son of S, W. and Catherine Hoover. He married Ida Alice Klepinger March 3, 1886; entered the ministry of the Brethren's church July 31, 1890, graduated at DePauw university, Greencastle, Ind., in June, 1894, and later studied in the university of Leipzig, Germany. He is now a teacher and pastor of West Dayton Brethren's church. His residence is on North Western avenue.

William I. T. Hoover, born March 8, 1869, was the third son of S. W. and Catherine Hoover; he married Carrie May Yundt, June 16, 1892; entered the ministry of the Brethren's church April 30, 1892; graduated in June, 1894, at DePauw university, and is a teacher and preacher.   His residence is on North Western avenue.

 

THOMAS J. FARRELL, [page 888] superintendent of police of Dayton, Ohio, whose efficient discharge of the duties of his office has done much to advance the police department of this city to a leading position in the state of Ohio and in the country, has had a life long experience in his profession. He first became identified with police work some twenty years ago, when he entered the service of his uncle, Capt. M. J. Farrell, of New Orleans, the founder of the Farrell Detective agency.   He remained with the Farrell agency until the death of his uncle in 1883, when he joined the Pinkerton service of Chicago, and at once sprang into prominence in the north by his success in various cases. In 1888 he made a wide reputation by his successful work in the famous tally-sheet forgery case, at Columbus, Ohio, in which a number of politicians of that city were arrested and indicted for participation in the crime, which aimed at the overthrow of the Hon. John Sherman, then United States senator from Ohio. It was hoped to prevent the election of Mr. Sherman to the United States senate, by forging the tally sheet and thus seating enough members in the legislature to render it numerically democratic.

Mr. Farrell has been identified with some of the most important cases with which the Pinkerton agency has had to deal, and his work in this respect is reported as being of the highest character. He has been detailed very often upon train robberies in the southern states, and also upon difficult cases in the mining regions of Colorado and Montana.

Mr. Farrell was appointed to the position of superintendent of the police department of Dayton, May 3, 1892, while he was yet in the employ of the Pinkerton agency, and while engaged elsewhere throughout the country, an honor seldom conferred upon an officer outside of the city in which he may live. He is forty years of age, having been born in the province of Leinster, Ireland, and came to the United States at the early age of ten years. He settled with his people in New Orleans, where he entered school and was educated at Saint Vincent's academy, which is located at Jefferson City, La., and afterward, as indicated above, he entered the employ of his uncle, Capt. M. J. Farrell, of New Orleans.

The career of Mr. Farrell is illustrative of the fact that energy and an eye single to the purpose in hand, must necessarily lead to success and recognition.

 

JOHN O'CONNOR, [pages 888-891] one of the well-known citizens of Dayton, and for the past ten years superintendent of repairs of the middle division of the Miami & Erie canal, was born in county Limerick, Ireland, on January 11, 1836. He was reared at Abbeyfeale, and was educated in the parochial schools. In 1851, when the famine came on in Ireland, the family were evicted from their leased lands, and removed to England. Our subject worked on a farm in England until 1854, when he joined the English navy at Chatham. The same year he went with Admiral Napier's fleet to the Baltic sea, and was with the naval brigade that attacked Bomasund, in July. His ship returned to England in November, and he was transferred to the Hannibal, commanded by Capt. Dalrymple, which dropped anchor, in the following December, in front of Sebastopol. He remained with the Black sea squadron, his vessel taking part in the engagement with the allied fleet in the sea of Azov. He was at Constantinople, Smyrna, and the Ionian islands, returning to England in the winter of 1856.

Mr. O'Connor has two medals and the Sebastopol clasp from the British government for services in the Crimean war, and a medal from the Turkish government.

Mr. O'Connor was married in England in 1861, and in 1862 came to America and located first at Lima, Ohio, where he was in the employ of the railroads. In 1866 he went to Canada as first lieutenant in Capt. Lawlor's company, but returned ten days later, the invasion having come to an end. He came to Dayton in 1869, and secured the contract for building the Big Four railroad between Miamisburg and Carrollton. He subsequently had a similar contract on the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne & Chicago and Lake Erie & Western roads. In 1886 he was appointed to his present position.

Mr. O'Connor was president of division No. I, Ancient Order of Hibernians, for the first three years after that order was organized, and is still a member.  He is also a member of the Emmet club, and a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic church. Mr. O'Connor was married, as stated, in England, June 29, 1861, to Miss Catherine Brennan, who was a native of Athlone, Ireland. To them ten children have been born.

 

JOHN HENRY PRINZ, [pages 891-892] the well-known contractor and builder, of 142 East A J Jones street, Dayton, Ohio, is a Hessian by nativity, and was born November 2, 1838. His parents were John and Marie (Gungles) Prinz.  The father, in his early manhood, was also a mechanic, but in later years became a farmer, and was engaged in that calling until his death, which occurred in Germany some little time after the arrival of his son, John Henry, in America; the mother had died prior to the departure of the son for this country. Of their three living children the history of John Henry is given in this memoir; George, a carpenter, resides in Dayton, and Adam is a cabinetmaker, living in California.

John H. Prinz received his elementary education in the excellent public schools of his native land, and on coming to the United States, in 1854, at once settled in Dayton, where he learned both the cabinetmaker's and carpenter's trades. For a number of years he worked as a journeyman, at either or both of these, and finally drifted into the contracting business, which, for the past twenty-three years, he has followed with unvarying success, erecting some of the finest edifices in the Gem City.  Commencing without a dollar, save that earned by his own labor, he now owns four fine residences in Dayton.

In 1863 Mr. Prinz married Miss Minnie Degenhardt, who was born in Germany, but was a child when brought to America by her parents, who settled in Dayton and here passed the remainder of their days. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Prinz have been born nine children, viz: George B., an architect, living in Omaha, Neb., and a widower; Louis, a carpenter, working with his father; Charles, a wood carver, working for the Rouzer Manufacturing company, of Dayton; Harry, a jeweler, of New Castle, Pa.; Conrad, a machinist in Dayton; Arthur, at school; Annie, wife of John Wahn, of Cincinnati; Caroline, married to Mr. Schubert, a cabinetmaker, and living in Dayton, and Lizzie, who is still under the parental roof. The Prinz family attend worship at Saint John's German Lutheran church, connected with which is a benefit order, known as the Saint John's Men's association, of which Mr. Prinz is a member. He is also an Odd Fellow, and a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and politically has always been a democrat.

 

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