THE WILMINGTON AND WATEVLIET PIKES
by Charles F. Sullivan
During the Revolutionary War, General Anthony Wayne gained quite a reputation as a military man, by attacking and completely conquering the fort at Stony Point on the Hudson River.
This success had quite an influence upon our men during the war.
General Wayne was loyal to the government of the U.S. throughout his whole life, of which, the most was spent in the service of the army.
The Government had sustained several severe defeats by the Indians in the middle west, and sent General Wayne to take charge of the army and subdue the Indians. He went to Cincinnati and took over the army, then there, and recruited it up and drilled it until he thought it strong enough to go forward. He then led his army to what is now known as Waynesville, because he camped there for some time and drilled them there. He then went on to Dayton and the road used at that time bears the name of Wayne Avenue.
Dayton was settled in 1796 and about eight years after, Daniel Cooper built a mill near Monument Avenue and Foundry Street, using water power and wasted the water down a ditch, where now Patterson Boulevard is now located. A factory district gradually developed here on account of the water power and the transportation furnished by the Miami & Eric Canal. The employees of the shops, needed houses for their families, and that developed Fifth Street and Wayne Avenue as business streets while the cross streets developed as residential districts. At Richard on Wayne was a slight hill and the street continued straight on out. Beyond Wyoming Street is what is called the first hill and the second is about a half mile further out.
In 1870, the Third Street car line was built and proved to be a success, so a line was promoted to come in Wayne Avenue to Fifth, to Jefferson, to First and to Main where the Music Hall was located, and return to the barn located just south of Wyoming.
The only power to propel the cars at that time was horses.
The State of Ohio bought quite a piece of ground at the top of the second hill, where the road forked and built the State Hospital there, in 1852. Many employees and visitors were going there continually and the two hills was too much for them, and a hill car was placed in service to run from the barn. The track was laid upon the sidewalk upon the east side of the street up to about Charles Street, where it veered to the east and up a valley to the forks of a road, to avoid the second hill. A small brick barn was built there, a flight of about 40 steps to get up to the level of the pikes, and a farm bell placed there. When the car arrived, the driver would ring the bell to tell the people that he was there, ready to go back. A means of transportation always builds up a street so Wayne Avenue built up rapidly.
The Wilmington pike goes to the west of the Hospital, while Wayne runs north of it. To me it seems more likely that General Wayne came in over the Wilmington pike, for it was a more direct route. Beyond the Hospital on the Wilmington pike, there is a large brick house, two stories, owned by a Mrs. Bradford, but after her death, the farm was platted but during the depression, developments were slow.
In early times, there was a great demand for the white limestone sometimes called Dayton Marble, such as used in the courthouses and many other buildings and some shipped to Cincinnati, and this was found along this pike. At the corner of Edison Street, a large hole was made by quarrying these rock. After the coming of Portland cement, there was no demand for these stone and the quarry was abandoned. That soon filled with water and this one was used as a dumping place. Another one just north of Beavertown on the west side of the pike, is a lake now.
There were very few houses along that pike from Dayton to Beavertown. Beavertown grew at a very early day and probably 50 or more houses composed the town, and I think that the stone quarries were the cause of it becoming a town, for these stone were used in building bridge piers and the state used them for locks upon the canal and some were shipped to Cincinnati for use there. In the early 1880’s, the “Little Giant Railroad”, a narrow Gauge, three feet wide, was built to Cincinnati, passing east of the village of Beavertown and crossing the pike at the south end of the village, giving them shipping facilities by rail for their supplies. After the National Cash Register Company became well established in South Park, they wanted railroad facilities.
By that time the narrow gauge had been made into a standard gauge and sold to the Pennsylvania railroad and they wanted a more direct line into Dayton, so they built past the N.C.R. Co. as it is today.
The real estate west of Beavertown was platted and the lots sold with the understanding that commuter service would be had by the railroad between Dayton and Pasadena, the name of the plat.
This was done for a while but it did not pay. The Dayton & Xenia Traction then built a branch through Beavertown to Bellbrook and Spring Valley, giving freight and passenger service every hour and a half. This service paid for a while, but with the coming of the auto, the income diminished until it did not pay and was discontinued. This pike beyond Beavertown is just a country pike with a few prosperous farmers living along it.
Coming back to Wayne Avenue, the State bought much more land along the south side of Wayne and used it to raise garden truck, for the hospital. On the north side at the top of the hill was a large brick house, divided into several apartments for the use of Hospital employees. Next to this was a large farm operated by Nicholas Ohmer as a berry and fruit farm. This was platted in the early 1880’s and the lots sold as a part of Ohmer park.
The old farm residence is still standing, I think, just one square from Wayne street. Beyond this, a farm lane ran straight ahead to two farm houses, but this has been made into Wayne Avenue through to the Smithville Road, and the city now has a fire house located out near the end of it. The pike then turned a little to the right and was named Watevliet Avenue because of the Shaker settlement upon it, but I do not know just the cause.
This pike had several small turns and but few houses, and used by the Dayton & Xenia Traction until a very few years ago when busses took it over. Out quite a distance is a hill on the south side of the pike, with a two story brick house, probably four rooms on each floor and this was used by the Shaker family.
These folks did not believe in marriage, so there was no future for them. They were a very conscientious and Christian in their dealings with their fellow man. One by one these folks died off leaving a large body of land with taxes due and no claimant for it.
The state then took it over for the taxes.
There was another colony of them near Lebanon, Ohio, and this is now used by the United Brethren denomination. There was another near High Bridge, Kentucky, and is visited by tourists. Just beyond this is the University of St. John, which is used for the education of the priests of the Catholic church and this was built about 1910.
Chas. F. Sullivan Dec. 3, 1943
114 E. Idaho St. Apt. C