THIRD STREET & EATON PIKE
by John F. Sullivan
Starting from Main street, we miss the old Phillips house, a four story brick hotel, extending from the present Arcade to Main on Third and on Main from the corner to the present Woolworth store.
The entrance was on Third street, with a large balcony over the entrance. It was the most popular hotel in Dayton.
It was always filled with traveling men, who made it a practice to stay here when ever they were close enough to Dayton to do so.
Shortly before every train would leave the depot, two horse buss would stop in front of the hotel and a call would be made in the lobby and passengers would hustle out and ride to the depot in it.
Next to this Harry Good operated a livery stable and he kept the horses and vehicles of many of the residents of the seal skin district, which was the name of the district between the river and Main and Third streets.
Next to this was the office of P. P. Messler who operated the busses and trunk delivery to the depot. Then Eli Fasold had a room for display of Singer sewing machines.
My father had a law office in the building built by his father in 1817 soon after he came to Dayton from Virginia. It was a two story building with his office upon the first floor and Dr. Bradley followed by Dr. Sample had a dentists shop there, upstairs. Next was a brick residence, and next was the Third street Presbyterian Church. The basement was just about the level of the ground and on the Third street side, a large flight of steps up to a landing and then dividing to the east and west doors. In the early 1880’s, this was removed and a fine stone church built on the same ground. The old bell given to the church by the young ladies was removed and placed in the new church, and Mother told me that she was one of the young ladies that donated it.
On the north side of the street is the old stone Courthouse, built in 1844 and these stone were quarried between here and Beavertown and hauled to Dayton on horse drawn wagons.
This building is just as it stood a hundred years ago, except the elements have applied a coating of dirt, which I think our authorities seem to want kept as it is, for if it were removed people would get lost at that corner.
In the rear of this is the county jail built in my boyhood days and when it was open for inspection, I was there and went through it. At the north east corner of Ludlow was an old frame building, used as a locksmith shop and around the corner were two more old frame shacks, one used by J. E. Schonicker, a piano tuner. On the north west corner was a fine large brick building, with the lawn always in good condition and lots of flowers and shrubbery. Seldom did I see any one around the place.
There was a joke, that this house covered two acres.
Mary Belle Eaker and her brother William Eaker lived there so of course the house did cover two Eakers. This property was later given to the Y M C A by Miss Eaker in her will, and was used by them for many years, and was later sold to the City and is now the Municipal building.
On the other side of the street was the Methodist parsonage and next west was the large Winter’s home with quite a cupola on top which could be seen from all directions. On the corner was an old shack used as a pump maker’s shop for many years.
On the north side and half way between Perry and Wilkinson was the undertaking establishment of O. P. Boyer, the predecessor of the firm at the end of the Dayton View bridge.
From here on to river there were a few stores but mostly residences and since the street car ran upon that street it was completely built up to the levee. Just before reaching the levee, the street took a sharp rise to the top of the levee and from there to the bridge was a dirt fill making the road.
North and south of this fill was the river bottom used by individuals for cow pastures and in the fall, the boys used it for foot ball.
In 1884 Prof. J. A. Robert bought all the land in the bottoms from Third street to the Dayton View Bridge and filled it as it is today with the dirt from the river channel. Then Peter Jo Hangten filled it from Third street south. The old levee was cut down and a cement walk built there and the large trees still growing there were upon the sides of the levee.
The first three spans of the bridge were of steel and added to the bridge in the late 1860’s, and we boys, thought it fun to run over the tops of these arches, instead of upon the side walks made for that purpose. Then came the two wooden spans built in 1836, when it was a toll bridge, and John Thompson, living at the west end of the bridge was probably the last collector of tolls upon that bridge. Pedestrians had to use the main part of the bridge, until after the city bought it, when they made a side walk along the outside on the south side and suspended it from the wooden part. Third street was fairly built then as far as Sprague street and from there all was commons. Third street was raised from Olive to Sprague about two feet higher than the land upon each side.
Miami City was the name of the town from Olive to Summit streets and they had their own post office, railroad station and city officers, and I think that you will still see the name “Miami City” upon the shed standing along the railroad right of way just north of Third. About 1870 it became a part of Dayton.
The Third street car line was incorporated in 1869 with a capital of $72,000.00, W. P. Huffman, President, John U. Kreidler, Supt.
This was built in 1870 as a single track line with switches every little way for cars to pass, going in opposite directions.
It was built from east Third street between Findlay and Horton through the center of the city and west on Third to beyond King street now Western Avenue. There they built their car barn and made connection with the Home Avenue line, popularly called the Dummy line because the first motive power used was a dummy engine, placed in one end of a passenger car and geared to the axle for motive power. I can just remember this dummy but it was soon displaced by a small locomotive hauling small passenger cars.
The Home Avenue railroad was incorporated for $50,000.00 with James Applegate, Pres., and Chas. King, Supt. and Conductor, and ran to the Soldiers Home over the present right of way of the B & O R R.
The street car and railroad met at this point and made a handy transfer of passengers going to and from the Soldiers Home
The street cars were drawn by horses and later were replaced by two small mules and a small bell fastened to the collar would notice of the coming of the car. Through the river bridge it was a double track and a piece of heavy strap iron was spiked to the bridge floor. Through the streets, first ties were laid and upon them a wooden stringer was laid and upon these a flat piece of iron was laid which carried and guided the street car.
Ten years later, when the tracks were doubled this construction was replaced by steel.
Olive street, then called Baxter, was the beginning of Miami City and there was a blacksmith shop on the north side of the street and he was very busy until the coming of the auto, when he was left with no work.
North of Third on Williams, I. N. Thorne had a warehouse and sent out wagons painted red, and bought rags going from house to house putting the rags on top, while within he carried tin ware with which he paid for the rags he bought. Miss Davies, reading this said “How well I remember the fat little red wagons of tins with bags of rags on top and scales dangling at the back”.
Along here were a few stores but mostly residences, and the street was called Bridge street but this was changed later.
The Dayton Malleable Iron Co. started on the south side of Third east of Clinton a half a block, and the building still stands. About 1871 they moved to their present location and they have had a continual growth ever since. They now extend from Fourth street to Wolf Creek along the Pennsylvania railroad.
About 1908 I was working upon west Third in this neighborhood and noticed a one story frame shop, formerly used as a bicycle repair shop, with large glass windows, covered with cloth and I inquired the reason. I was told that two fellows had a nice business repairing bicycles but went crazy and were trying to make a machine that would fly in the air. They should be placed in the Asylum for the insane. This was the start of the Wright brothers in being the first to build an aeroplane that would fly.
From Summit to Western Avenue, buildings were very scarce and vacant lots were common. There was one building upon the south side of the street between Summit and Euclid, frame, three stories high and standing close to the sidewalk. The general outline, and color of the paint, resembled the early barracks at the Soldier’s Home and as a boy, I thought it was a part of the Home.
In the city directory of 1866, is an advertisement which explains this building. “Western Military Institute, situated 11/2 miles west of the city of Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio.
Brevet Lt. Col. Joseph M. Locke, Supt., Capt. Chas. E. Stivers, Commandant cadets, for information and catalogue apply to Bvt. Col. Joseph M. Locke, Dayton, Ohio.” (sic.)
This was a fine private school for boys and former Judge O. B. Brown and Henry B. Pruden were among the students in 1869. In this ad you see the name of Capt. C. E. Stivers. He received the title of Captain because of his service in the army during the Civil War.
Since he was an educator he was chosen to teach at this school.
When this school quit business, Capt. Stivers became teacher and principal of the Central High School at the corner of Fourth and Wilkinson streets where he was located when I attended it and many years afterward. The present Stivers High School was named in honor of him, and he was liked by all of his students.
Beyond Western Avenue the street car Co. built their barn and next to it the Home Ave Co took over a brick house for their office and waiting room, making it the transfer of all passengers going to or from the Home. Many saloons were in operation near by and soldiers coming through would patronize the saloons and get drunk and be robbed of all they had in their clothes.
This became a terrible condition and the city police were kept busy hauling the drunks away and finding those who did the robbing.
Beyond this, I only remember one great big brick house on the north side of the street, with much ground all around it, and it was built way back from the street. This was used by Mr. Williams and later by his son in law James F. Campbell and was later sold to the Dayton Board of Education and the Roosevelt High School was built upon it.
The pike from here out was a graveled road and was as good or better than any other road running out of Dayton. The dust in summer was terrible and the mud in winter was worse.
If the roads were no better at this time, I would guarantee no speeding not even 30 miles per hour. West of the present Epworth church was the toll gate and just beyond it was a large creek, crossing Third street at an angle of about 45 degrees and it is now sewered and covered up, so I could not give you the exact location. I do not remember any houses along this pike until after we reached the hill. This was a long steep hill and the horse would have to walk the entire distance and in hot weather he would sweat, and even the passengers in the carriage would also sweat. About two thirds of the way up this hill, a farm lane ran to the left to a large house and even larger barn owned by Mr. Decker. Later this lane was made into a street crossing Third street and was named Decker street for him.
Beyond Gettysburg Avenue was the Soldiers Home on the south side of the pike and a wooden picket fence painted white and about 6 feet high showed the property line very distinctly even at night.
Originally the Eaton pike was a straight line from Eaton to the junction of Germantown street and McCall Avenue and did extend through the Home grounds. When the authorities were planning the ground to be given to the government for the Home, in the 1860’s, they arranged to extend Third Street straight from the city until it met the pike just beyond the Home grounds. All the ground south of Third was to be for the home and the pike was discontinued through there and the traffic used Third street. This leaves the old end of the pike leaving Dayton at Euclid and Germantown now called McCall running straight until near Gettysburg Avenue where it makes a small bend and dead ends at the avenue. On the north side of the pike were two brick houses used by the Olt family, they were butchers and were on duty every market day at the market house selling meat. Next was the Kemp home and then a large frame house far back from the road owned by James Hunter Odlin, son of Peter Odlin, a lawyer of Dayton, and he ran a dairy delivering milk to all parts of the city every day. Beyond this, the new road merges with the pike and just around the curve is a two story brick house owned by the Beeghly’s, and of that large family only two daughters are living. One lives in this house while the other is Mrs. Scott McWilliams living in upper Riverdale and south of west Siebenthaler Avenue. Beyond this the houses were very scattered and since we seldom went beyond the home, we knew very little of interest beyond this point.
In the Home, the roads had a foundation of crushed rock, quarried upon the grounds and on top a coating of stone dust, making a very good road for those times. Later this was oiled and now the roads in the grounds are fine.
Every Fourth of July, a fine display of fire works would be shown and of course the public would be invited. After the exhibition was over, the railroad was busy nearly all night getting the people back to Dayton again.
The most beautiful spot upon the grounds is the Grotto.
When the building of the home was started this quarry was very handy and all the stone used in the protestant church were taken from there and the foundation stone for, the many barracks and other buildings were taken from there, making quite a big hole in the ground and very unsightly. A Mr. Beck, a landscape gardener was sent here by the government to help, straighten things out and he made a very good job.
He changed some of the cliffs, he placed good dirt where it was needed and planted flowers and shrubbery and continually changing places that did not suit him, he made the Grotto a beauty.
There are two springs one sulphur and they never fail to supply fine water to all comers. On a hot summer day, it makes a very nice cool place to sit down and rest. The best place to see it is on the hill to the north of it and the flowers from there look beautiful.
For a long time they had a fine band out there and every Sunday they gave a concert and Dayton people went out there to hear them each Sunday.
There were two small lakes connected but it dawned upon some one that by buying about 40 acres of land from William F. Howell, a dam could be built across and make the big lake. This was done and that lake has been quite an addition to the water attractions.
For a while many boats were there and were for rent with a soldier to row them but that has died out.
I do not know how they got the water for domestic use at first, but in the eighties they bought a location near the crossing of Home Avenue and the old Narrow gauge railroad, they drilled some wells, built a steam plant and placed pumps there to pump water to the stand pipe that was built at that time. This plant was called Wagner Wells. After this century had a good start, the government contracted with this city to furnish the water and Wagner Wells was discontinued.
Early in its history, they established a volunteer fire department with hand drawn hose reel. The early buildings were of frame construction and genuine fire traps, and they have had quite a number of large fires there, and have had to call upon Dayton for help.
At first Dayton was a long distance away and the roads were poor and it was quite a job to send the department up the hill to their assistance. Gradually the city extended west to them, the roads became much better, and the city fire department was motorized and made more efficient. The city needed a new house in that direction, so the government deeded to the city the ground for the house that was built in 1940, facing Third street and near the north gate. Now they get the same service at the home as is given to any part of the city, and the new house is so close that a fire cannot get much of a start before they will be there with more to follow soon after.
Col. E. F. Brown was the Governor of the home, from 1868 to 1879 when his wife died and he was responsible, largely, for its fine appearance, and many improvements.
Chas. F. Sullivan January 5, 1943
114 E. Idaho Street Apt. C