THE STORY OF WAYNE AVENUE IN THE ‘80’s AND ‘90’s
BY EDWARD P. DEIS
In recreating Wayne avenue in the eighties and early nineties, we depended largely on our personal recollections. To confirm important details, quite a bit of research became necessary. It brought out the interesting fact that Wayne avenue of that period was a business thoroughfare. The larger portion of the street frontage housed buildings devoted to business enterprises of a wide variety. It also became apparent that many of the old time merchants reared their families under the same roof that sheltered their business.
The business section of Wayne avenue at that time was relatively short. It extended from Third street to approximately the intersection with Wayne avenue and Xenia avenue. Beyond Xenia avenue, the buildings devoted to merchandizing activities were mostly located on corner lots. A lesser portion of the Wayne avenue frontage was devoted to purely residential use. These homes housed the families of merchants and manufacturers whose business was located elsewhere. They were the homes of book-keepers and clerks who staffed the shops and stores; among these homes were quite a few rooming or lodging houses. While many of the residents of these homes were important factors in the development of a growing city, it is still equally true that they contributed little or nothing to the growth of Wayne avenue as a business street.
In this story of Wayne avenue we deal primarily with Wayne avenue as an important business thoroughfare and whatever mention is made of homes is purely incidental.
Some of the material which follows may be subject to criticism and perhaps some minor corrections. Much of the information is the result of my personal recollections. My father, John Deis, was a pioneer resident of Wayne avenue. He came to Dayton from Germany, via Cincinnati, in 1857 by way of the Miami and Erie Canal. He landed at the Dayton Canal Wharf which was located on the north side of east Third street, where the Patterson boulevard now bisects this arterial highway. Thus, in 1857 he first trod the precincts of Wayne avenue while seeking lodgings.
A short time thereafter, father’s younger brother George Deis, also an emigrant from Baden, Germany arrived in Dayton and the two young men opened a shop in the Dickey Block. This building was located on the north side of east Fifth street, extending from Walnut street to the alley which now forms the boundary of the property occupied by The Red Head Service Station, located at the north east corner of Wayne avenue and Fifth street. Incidentally, George Deis, later secured a home site on Wayne avenue, nearly opposite to Oak street where he resided until his death at the age of seventy two years. The writer first saw the light of day in 1880 at 326 Wayne avenue and for at least fifty five years of my three score and ten I maintained a home on Wayne avenue. I mention these facts for the reason that my own recollections and many contacts with other old time Wayne avenue residents, presupposes that we possess sufficient factual information to produce a reasonably accurate story of the street.
In those early days, Wayne avenue was an unimproved country road, grown to village street proportions. It was in many ways a replica of many other unimproved Dayton streets. During the Winter months it lay buried deep in snow – snow that had lost its pristine whiteness. Before the use of central heating plants had become general untreated bituminous coal was the nearly universal fuel for homes, stores and factories. Practically every home had from two to five individual heating units such as heating stoves, kitchen ranges etc. Volumes of soot blackened all surfaces. No one ever thought of cleaning the street. Sweepings from side walks, homes, stores shops and factories were dumped unceremoniously into the deep cobble stone gutters. Horses and mules were the only means of vehicular transportation and these animals left their litter everywhere.
In the early eighties, snow fell in November; with constant additions it remained until late Spring. Generally speaking, thaws set in during late April or early May and the street took on the aspect of a quagmire, with mud knee deep. Gutters ran with muddy water and accumulated filth. When the street’s surface was finally exposed in Spring, deep chuck holes appeared and then began a concerted movement of the residents to get rid of the large Winter accumulation of coal and wood ashes. Ashes were the most common filler of chuck holes. By mid June or early July the surface had dried completely and from then on until the Fall rains set in, any movement of person, animal or vehicle, stirred up clouds of dust so dense as to nearly obscure the sun’s rays. This condition was common to all of the unpaved streets of the city and made necessary that the city council contract with teamsters to supply tank wagons to sprinkle the streets a specified number of times per day.
WAYNE AVENUE STREET RAILWAY
As previously stated all street traffic was vehicular and entirely horse and mule drawn. The only concession to modernity was the street car. The car used at that time was a small tram with entrance on an open rear platform. The driver controlled the car with an ordinary hand brake crank operating similar to the brake wheels found on coal gondolas before the introduction of the Westinghouse Air Brake. The driver stood on an unprotected and unheated front platform, where he was exposed to rain, sleet, snow and hail.
The small car had a capacity of not more than twenty persons and the fare box was built into the front partition which separated the car interior from the driver’s platform. Passengers entered the car from the rear platform and they must needs traverse the aisle to the front of the car to deposit his fare either in cash, token or ticket. The seating arrangement consisted of two long benches placed on either side of the car, leaving an aisle so narrow that the knees of persons sitting on opposite benches, frequently touched.
Wayne avenue cars were drawn by a general purpose horse usually weighing thirteen or fourteen hundred pounds, possessing strength and stamina, rather than speed. Other local street car lines used teams of Mexican ponies while others used teams of small mules commonly called Tobacco Mules. It was a common practice for boys and growing lads to “hop” the rear platform and then jump or leap in unison, imparting to the car a violent up and down teetering motion of such intensity that often the small car was derailed. The Wayne avenue car lines had their offices and barns at the south east corner of Wayne avenue and Wyoming street, occupying the site which now houses a pretentious Standard Oil Company Service Station. The company was organized and headed by Michael and Nicholas Ohmer, of the same family that for many years operated the Ohmer Fare Register Company.
From Wyoming street south, the Wayne avenue terraine consisted mostly of farm houses and converted farm houses and new homes, erected and occupied by residents who desired a rural atmosphere. South of Wyoming street to the gates of the Southern Ohio Insane Asylum, Wayne avenue was an extremely steep and rugged hill, the roadway unimproved in any manner. As a concession to the needs of the asylum, the streetcar company cut down a portion of the eastern hillside, for a width sufficient to permit the passage of one of their small cars. They laid a single track and developed a schedule of service and four or five times each day, on a definite schedule, this car, drawn by two heavy draft horses, slowly crawled to the top of the hill where the passenger dismounted and climbed a stair of about twenty steps to reach street level at the asylum grounds. Thus, from Wyoming street south, Wayne avenue had two street levels, the west portion being for general travel, the east side for street car service only.
In later years when it became necessary to provide fire protection for this area a Fire House was erected at the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Charles street. The fire equipment installed at this station was all horse drawn. It soon became apparent that the fire department horses could not negotiate the steep Wayne avenue hill without assistance. A contract was therefore entered into with the owner of a Wayne avenue sand pit, under the terms of which, the pit owner would hold a team of harnessed horses in readiness, at or near the junction of Anderson street. When the department operator telephoned the pit owner of a fire in the neighborhood, he hurried his spare team to the street and when the fire apparatus appeared, it was coupled to the equipment and then the four horses amid much excitement proceeded at their best speed to the scene of the fire. In later years, when the electric trolley replaced the horse drawn street car, the street still remained unimproved but instead of a spare team the fire department now got a boost by hooking a chain from car to fire apparatus.
As was written in an earlier family memoir, Wayne avenue in the early sixties carried nearly all of the vehicular traffic from the south section of Montgomery County. The concensus of opinion among the old time residents assumed that Wayne avenue would in time become the main arterial highway entering Dayton and that eventually Wayne avenue would become Dayton’s most important business street.
At the time of which we write, the Miami and Eire Canal was a real rival to the railroad companies in developing transportation facilities between cities. Starting with metropolitan Cincinnati, through Hamilton, Middletown, Franklin, Miamisburg, West Carrolton and Dayton and going north as far as Toledo, the railroads and canal fought it out tooth and nail and while the railroads won because of speed the fact remains that it was the canal that compelled a rivalry which brought results. Shortly after the completion of the Miami and Erie Canal the Hydraulic Company was organized carrying feeder lines from the canal and these feeder lines supplied production power to the leading industries of the city. Before the introduction of electricity as industrial power, nearly all of our larger industries were operated by Hydraulic Power. We interpolated this thought because one of these Hydraulic Canals crossed Wayne avenue just beyond the railroad crossing.
THE EAST SIDE OF WAYNE AVENUE
From Third to Fifth st.
We now come to the south east corner of Third street and Wayne avenue. Here was housed one of the old time wholesale grocery firms, one Weakly-Worman and Company. In addition to a full line of standard groceries and provisions, this firm had developed a blend or brand of coffee known as “Old Java.” This brand had a wide distribution, was nationally known and if we are correctly informed it was the fore-runner of the Old Reliable Coffee Blend now so popular. In later years, before this site was taken over by The Lowe Brothers Company, Paint Manufacturers, this site was occupied by another wholesale grocery firm, -The Eldridge-Higgins Company.
In a separate building still in daily use, now being a part of the Lowe Brothers Company, this building abutting on the railroad spur track, the firm of J. R. Johnston and Son operated a small commercial iron foundry. After the dissolution of this firm, the building was occupied by the New Era Gas Engine Company. To the best of my recollection this firm also engaged in the manufacture of pumps and boiler parts. Later, if I am correctly informed, this firm produced one of the first small motors for bicycles.
Beyond the railroad tracks one of Dayton’s pioneer coal merchants had his office and yards. For a generation or more the J. D. Whitmore Coal Company enjoyed a large volume of business, much of their outlet being delivered to the industrial trade. For many years this was probably Dayton’s best known coal distributors and they too aided in making Wayne avenue a busy thoroughfare.
Adjacent to this coal yard was the establishment of Joseph Ferneding. He too, for a long time was a leader in the coal industry, however his volume trade went for domestic use rather than industrial.
Beyond the railroad tracks and the hydraulic came the lumber yard and planing mill operated by the firm of Pierce-Coleman Company. Mr. Harry Coleman and his son George later entered into the erection of low cost homes and they were at one time recognized as one of Dayton’s leading builders. The site occupied by the Pierce-Coleman Company was later disposed of to the O. L. Bouck Planing Mills Company, who later closed out the business to enter the red wood lumber business in California. The site once utilized by these firms, at the north east corner of Wayne avenue and State street has since been converted to railroad use.
At the south east corner of Wayne avenue and State street was located the agricultural implement factory of The Farmer’s Friend Manufacturing Company. They specialized in the manufacture of many types of agricultural and industrial devices and they served their customers well for many years. When this firm later vacated this site it was taken over by The Stoddard-Dayton Motor Car Company, one of the nation’s pioneer manufacturers of automobiles. Stoddard-Dayton cars produced by this firm enjoyed national fame. They were entered in nearly all of the popular test runs, races and distance competitions. The cars were constructed of honest materials and hand finished to precision standards. At late as 1920, the writer personally inspected one of their cars which had covered several hundred thousand miles and at that time it still was running on definite schedules in the Fort Wayne Indiana Fire Department.
The intervening lots between the Stoddard-Dayton Motor Car Company to a point near the junction of Wayne avenue and Fremont avenue, was occupied by a series of homes and little shops, mostly occupied for short periods only, who as a rule made no lasting impression nor contributed much to the development of the street. Still, among them were a number of small mercantile establishments and tiny one room industries who did their full share to bring trade to Wayne avenue. Without further comment we list
Bernhard Mehlberth 216 Wayne Avenue, Brush Manufacturer,
Christina Mentel 220 Wayne Avenue, Notions,
William A. Shaw 222 Wayne Avenue, Candy Manufacturer
Mr. Geo. E. Siebler 234 Wayne Avenue, Saws and Saw Filing
Mr. Siebler’s saw filing shop was one of the really pioneer establishments of Wayne avenue which has survived the vissicitudes of time and industrial changes. It had its modest beginning more than three quarters of a century ago in a tiny shop since replaced by a substantial brick building. About forty five years ago he disposed of his shop to Mr. W. H. Overpack who installed equipment for the machine filing of saws. Recently the firm again changed hands and it is now known as the Dayton Saw Works, who act as distributors and service for all types of industrial saws.
The junction of Wayne and Fremont avenues is a triangular piece of land and it is occupied by a similarly shaped old brick building which the Germans descriptively named the “BIEGELEISEN”; literally translated it means the Flat Iron building. During its prime, this old structure was occupied for a long period of time by one Jacob Renner, long a leader among the German element. Here was held the meetings of THE BADENSER UNTERSTUETZINGS VEREIN and the DEUTCHER PIONEER VEREIN and many other German beneficial organizations. Mr. Renner occupied all of the downstairs but most of the top floor housed a lodge or meeting hall. Mr. Renner conducted a modest establishment catering to a clientele who took their food and drink in moderation. In the lodge hall were conducted the rehearsals of many of the old German choral organizations and other musical groups, including brass bands and orchestras. Mr. Jacob Renner’s establishment contributed much to the culture and well being of the rapidly growing city.
After Mr. Renner disposed of his business it was variously occupied until the site was purchased by Mr. John Samu who first operated it as a family restaurant. After war time prohibition was nullified during the first term of President Roosevelt, Mr. Samu opened a Café which he successfully conducted for a long term of years or until he purchased what is now known as the Samu block, formerly the Schaefer block. The old Renner property as it is still known now houses a residence.
My youthful recollection of the north east corner of Wayne avenue and Fifth street, the site now occupied by THE RED HEAD SERVICE STATION, was the ruins of a cellar foundation, partially filled with dirt, ashes, tin cans, foundation stones and charred timbers. A huge, limestone front step was all that remained of an old brick church edifice, long since destroyed by fire. This deserted church lot was a natural playground for the children of the neighborhood. Here also were held the many patent medicine shows then much in vogue; they advertised all sorts of cure-alls for man and beast. We recall that among the many medicines peddled on this corner, not the least was PERUNA. Doctor Cook, who conducted the PERUNA shows was a natural showman. Clad in a fine black broadcloth Prince Albert coat, a huge diamond flashing in his Ascot tie, together with a silk hat and a fancy vest, he was a feast for the eyes. His coat was decorated with gold pieces he using twenty dollar eagles as they were called to button his coat, ten dollar gold pieces on the vest and five dollar gold pieces as decorative buttons on sleeves. His promises and his oratory were equally flamboyant. This same lot was reserved every Saturday and Sunday evening by the Salvation Army who for many years conducted their campaign at this point, to salvage human derilicts.
WEST SIDE OF WAYNE AVENUE FROM THIRD TO FIFTH STREET
Wayne avenue begins where it merges into east Third street. My earliest personal recollection of this junction brings to mind the china, crockery, glass ware and feed establishment of The John J. Heinsen and Company and located at the south west corner of Wayne avenue and Third street. This industry was housed in an old frame building which paralleled Wayne avenue to Bachelor’s Lane. Mr. Heinsen’s establishment was extremely well known throughout Dayton and he was one of the pioneer merchants who brought much activity to Wayne avenue.
The corner of Wayne avenue and Bachelor’s Lane held the horse shooing shop of A. J. and George L. Makley which operated under the firm name of Makely Brothers. Some time thereafter the title was changed to Makley and Ryder. Throughout the horse and buggy days of Dayton, when this section housed nearly all of the many large industrial teaming and drayage companies, the Makley horse shoeing shop was a bee hive of industry and it too contributed much to the fame that Wayne avenue was slowly achieving.
Covering the land on the west side of Wayne avenue and running from Bachelor’s Lane to the railroad siding on the south was the large lumber yard of the Alexander Gebhart and Company. Under a later reorganization the name was changed to the Gebhart-Wuichet Lumber Company. It occupied much of the site now occupied by the Gondert and Lienisch Company. The Gebhart-Wuichet Lumber Company was at that time Dayton’s largest and best known lumber yard and it survived for a generation or more, fulfilling its destiny in the history of a growing city. I recall its final destruction by fire, described as the most devastating conflagration ever visited on our city. We also recall that flying embers from this fire were carried by high winds to the tall and stately spire of the St. John’s Lutheran Church of which Dr. Mueller was then pastor. The distance between the original fire and the church was at least two city squares and it was a most terrifying site when this beautiful tower succumbed to the blaze. Like a flaming pillar of fire it slowly swayed and then describing a graceful arc it finally plunged to its fiery ruin in the street below.
Beyond the railroad and listed as numbers 125,- 127,-129 and 131 Wayne avenue was the builder’s supply house and coal yards of C. A. Starr and Company. In addition to their coal and fuel trade this firm carried a huge stock of cement, lime, plaster, wood laths, plasterer’s hair, chimney tiles, sewer pipe, bricks and sundry other related commodities. The firm of C. A. Starr and Company was well and favorably known, they had a large annual sales volume and were instrumental in a large way to the growth of Wayne avenue as an important industrial highway.
We nearly forgot to list the modest beginning of a large Dayton industry, now favorably known throughout the national business world. We have in mind one Robert Dicks who in the late seventies and early eighties supplied Dayton and the surrounding area with red sealing wax. There was large usage of this commodity and a number of small shops catered to this trade. Their products were built on all sorts of building specifications but because of the superior quality of the Dicks product he eventually secured the major portion of this business. This small shop of Robert Dicks was the business ancestor of THE DICKS-PONTIUS COMPANY, manufacturers of putty, glazing compounds and other allied commodities. For many years this organization was housed in a four story twin industrial plant erected on Wayne avenue immediately opposite State street and which they occupied until 1948. When their growth made larger quarters necessary, they acquired a commodious modern industrial plant on State Route 4, Springfield Pike, Dayton, Ohio, where expansion is possible. This firm operates a branch in Washington D.C. and maintains terminal offices and warehouses in various metropolitan centers. Mr. John Dicks, a third generation removed from the original Robert Dicks has, since the death of the late Mr. Pontius, become the executive head of this prosperous firm. A large portion of their old plant on Wayne avenue is now occupied by The Duellman Electrical Company.
The St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran church with its tall spire of admirable proportions and its belfry housing a splendid assembly of bells attuned to sonorous majesty occupies a goodly portion of the west side of Wayne avenue extending south from Jackson street. During the eighties and the nineties, St. Paul’s Parochial School educated the vast majority of German Lutheran children in the southern and eastern section of Dayton. Pastors Feldman, Hecht and Mittler were men of splendid erudition and they and their successors at St. Paul’s were outstanding assets to the community whose value cannot be overestimated. Present holdings of the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran church on this Wayne avenue site include the church and school building, a splendid two family brick house, the one side serving as church offices while the other houses the family of the caretaker. Also available for parish use is a commodious parking lot.
In the mid eighties Mr. John R. Kenney, formerly a foreman in a large cornice and sheetmetal plant, acquired a location at or about number 259 Wayne avenue. Soon after acquiring this home, he opened his own sheet metal and cornice shop acquiring a shop on east Fifth street. After several years at the Fifth street location, he erected a large and commodious shop on the rear of his residence lot and until his retirement many years later this shop secured a large part of the Dayton trade. In later years this shop was tenanted by The C. H. Ohmer Fare Register Supply Company and the Brown Paper Company.
Joseph Klump operated his horse shoeing shop at number 255 south Wayne avenue. His one story shop was one of the pioneer establishments in the city of Dayton. Coming to this location which is immediately in the rear of the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Fifth street, he spent nearly all of his adult life in this location. Joseph Klump was a powerful man with a rollicking disposition, a man of splendid physique and there was nothing that he loved more than a good horse. To suit him best they had to be spirited—perhaps a little tricky—and they had to be good roadsters. Joseph Klump was an acknowledged leader in his profession with a fine mechanical knowledge of its requirements. He had an unusual knowledge of an animals foot and hoof construction. He also trained young horses and it always was a source of pleasure akin to the coming of a circus or rodeo, when one of the neighborhood youngsters discovered that one of the horse owners had brought in a colt to be harness broke and trained for road work. Talk about Wild West Shows? Why, in those days we had them right in the middle of Wayne avenue.
I recall that in winter, whenever we had a change to freezing weather, Joseph Klump would drive home for supper and for a little rest. If it looked as if the freeze would persist and that his services would be required throughout the night, he would alert his crew of helpers and then return to the shop. Soon all of the teams of the many ice companies and the many commercial teamsters, plus the delivery horses of the neighborhood merchants would all be on their way to his shop, to be rough shod. I recall that on one occasion, one of our neighbors awoke about three o’clock in the morning and noting the icy condition of the street, he knew that his horse must be shod. He left at once for Joseph Klump’s shop only to find that the street leading to the shop and the shop itself was literally swamped with horses and that he had to await his turn and his turn came at noon the next day.
Joseph Klump was one of the first horse shoers to introduce a heavy leather or felt pad between shoe and hoof to protect against stone bruises. He was also one of the first to introduce a shoe with threaded calks. Thus, if weather conditions or wear indicated the need for a new set of calks, the owner or the hostler merely unscrewed the dull calks, replacing them with sharp ones. Joseph Klump was an institution in the neighborhood and he had the respect and esteem of all who knew him.
A series of small shops or buildings between the Klump establishment and the rear of Moore’s Grocery who occupied the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Fifth street were occupied by Drs. P. B. and Thomas Hallanan. I have no personal recollection of these doctors but my research disclosed that their offices were located at number 205 Wayne avenue and that a Dr. J. J. Antrim had his office at number 209 Wayne Ave.
A Mr. Heil Richards operated a number of small furniture vans and delivery wagons: he also did odd jobs of hauling for picnic parties and hay rides; he maintained an office at number of 207 Wayne avenue.
The earliest recollection we have of the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Fifth street was the saloon operated at this site by August Nolte. This was very early in the eighties. He was followed by the R. W. Moore grocery. We have no intimate recollection of Moor’s Grocery or its operating personnel but the store survived for a number of years, at least long enough to warrant it a place in this story of Wayne avenue. The huge property now occupying this site was designed and constructed by one Walter Schaefer and was known as the Schaefer Block. After his death the property was purchased by one John Samu who for a number of years operated a Café and Restaurant and who still occupies the property. The upper floors were originally devoted to apartments but has lately been refurbished as hotel apartments and rooms. Two of the store rooms on the Wayne avenue side of the block and listed as number 257 Wayne avenue have been occupied for many years by The Dayton Industrial Supply Company, Mr. Arthur Trangenstein, President.
EAST WAYNE AVENUE FROM FIFTH STREET TO MC LAIN STREET
Prior to 1883 when the present Dover Block was erected, this south east corner of Wayne avenue and Fifth street was tenanted by Kelley and Son who for a number of years conducted a neighborhood grocery and provision market. In 1883, when the Dover Block was erected, the writer was only three years old but the excitement in the neighborhood caused by such a huge building project added to a fatality, made a deep impression on my youthful mind. The fatal accident occurred on a Sunday morning when the streets were crowded by devout church members on their way to devotions both at Trinity Catholic Church and St. Paul’s Lutheran church. Suddenly a warning shout rent the air! - a workman cleaning on the third floor of the new building displaced a building block. Fairly this missile struck its mark crushing the skull and causing the instant death of a prominent young lady, a member of a fine old Dayton family.
As soon as the Dover Block was ready for occupancy, a Mr. Thomas Dover, of the family who erected the structure, opened a drug or apothecary store under the firm name of Thomas Dover and Company, Drugs. This shop was a far cry from the present day drug store. The chemist concocted or brewed or distilled his own chemical ingredients from tested formulas and from them he produced pills, powders, and fluid medicines for all the ills of man or beast.
Advertising was still in its infancy but already the drug trade had developed a means to readily identify the drug store. It consisted of two oddly shaped but highly ornate glass bottles, each holding approximately five gallons. These jars were filled with brightly colored liquids, usually pink or red in the one and blue or green in the other. They were nested in a decorative brass frame, of delicate design and suspended from the ceiling by highly polished brass chains. These jars were then placed in opposite ends of the display case and a flickering gas jet was ignited in the rear of each bottle casting flickering rays of highly colored light through the liquid.
The twin jars originally used in the Thomas Dover Drug Company display windows were made part of a window display produced by Mr. Joseph Cowden, manager of the drug store which occupies the same premises. This replica of an old drug store window with its complement of old style pestles and mixing bowls, together with ancient pill making equipment, advordupois scales of a design no longer seen and a huge book in which were pasted the original prescriptions, all hoary with age was so unique that it received commendation in many national drug store journals.
The only concession made by the Dover drug store to then accepted merchandizing methods was a glass display case holding an assortment of seven or eight boxes of nickel cigars, two-fers and three-fers, -all hand rolled and all produced in Dayton cigar factories. As part of this display was a gas cigar lighter which possessed a unique shut off valve. When hoisted to neck level, the valve opened automatically and a long thin flame resulted; after the cigar was lighted the lighter was again suspended at a lower level, automatically closing the valve so that only a small jet flame remained, no higher than the protective shield which encircled it. Many a magnificent handle bar mustache was singed regularly whenever the owner attempted to light his cigar.
As a concession to sanitation, Mr. Thomas C. Dover kept a cat which was expected to keep the premises free from vermin. During the early Fall Mr. Dover made a trip to northern Maine and when he returned he brought with him a beautiful half grown cat. This animal, though the offspring of a common house cat had short tufted ears and a bobbed tail. It was the expressed opinion that the beast was sired by a wild cat or perhaps a Maine Lynx. In the months before it achieved full maturity it was extremely playful but as it grew older it developed some vicious traits. The cat usually lay on the top of the glass cigar case and on several occasions when a customer attempted to pet it, it would spring at the customer’s throat. For some reason the adult cat took a fancy to me and when Mr. Dover found it expedient to dispose of it he suggested that I take it home. Against the advice of my parents I made quite a pet of it and from me it accepted not only petting but actual mauling. The cat made a home for himself in the horse barn and it assuredly kept the stable free of mice and rats. Biologically speaking, this cat must also be considered a success since during the first Winter and Spring of its adult life, he killed nearly all of the neighborhood male cats and the summer crop of kittens had more than a fair sprinkling of lynxfaced and bobtailed kits.
The site of the Thomas Dover Drug Store was later taken over as one of a small chain of drug stores operated under the firm name of the Jenkins’ Drug Company. Miss Elizabeth Jenkins, a sister of the firms president managed this branch for many years and only during the last three or four years has she relinquished this job turning the management over to a nephew Mr. Joseph Cowden. Miss Jenkins was a wee whisp of a woman, very tiny, friendly yet prim and precise in her manner. She possessed the happy faculty of making and holding friends. In after years when the neighborhood was largely composed of transients mostly from the hill counties of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee it was interesting to note the deep respect shown to her who invariably addressed her as “Mother.” It is also interesting to note that this site has been the continuous home of a drug store for nearly sixty seven years and that as early as in 1860 a drug store occupied this site.
In the store room on the Wayne avenue side of the Dover block, next to the drug store is a room now occupied by the Aberdeen Press. This is an arcade store, the connecting room facing on Fifth street. This room for many years housed the activities of the William McDowell Arcade Emporium, devoted to the sale of all things small, portable and for home consumption. In many ways it was the forerunner of the general store or bazaar as they were also called. It handled pots, pans, glass ware, china ware, pottery, tin and copper wares, kitchen utensils, kitchen drapery, napkins, towels, birdcages, mouse and rat traps etc. McDowell was one of the first business men in Dayton who used the phrase “If you don’t see what you want, ask us; if we haven’t got it- we’ll get it! This store existed for a number of years and it too did its full share to make Wayne avenue one of Dayton’s leading business streets prior to its occupancy by the present tenant the Aberdeen Press it was occupied by the printing establishment of Stine and Hull who leased those premises for twenty years or more.
As a matter of record, this same store room now known as number 308 Wayne avenue was the first home of the W. H. Heckler Dry Goods Company who remained at this site until his own building at the south east corner of Wayne avenue and McLain street was completed. Later it was occupied by J. T. Roll and Sons who handled patent medicines. He in turn relinquished his lease to one L. A. DeSormo who opened a sort of a general store similar to the McDowell emporium.
In an adjoining store room next to the one just described, someone opened a NICHELODEON. Entrance, -Adults 5c, Infants free. The seating arrangements in this store room consisted of hardwood kitchen chairs, pinned together in sets of five. A board screwed to the under portion of the seats holding them together. These sets of five seats each were placed on either side of a narrow two foot aisle and extended from the front of the rear of the store. The stereoptican was operated by a gas flame, pictures being enlarged by lenses and with proper reflectors projected on a bed sheet, suspended from the ceiling. This type of entertainment was a distinct novelty and it proved very profitable. It was open only during the evening hours and its operation and maintenance required no other help than that of the owner who was cashier, usher and machine operator. I have no recollection of why this show was closed but I am of the opinion that its operation constituted a fire hazard and that the local authorities closed it for that reason.
The adjoining two store rooms in the Wayne avenue section of Dover Block was occupied by John Rey who also occupied the second floor over these store rooms. Here he conducted what at that time was considered a large and well stocked furniture store. He was a successful merchant with a well selected stock of merchandise. He employed no clerks and operated the store alone except for the occasional help of his wife. Like most of the other retail establishments Mr. Rey opened his furniture emporium as he called it, no later than 6.30 o’clock in the morning and it remained upon until 9.30 o’clock in the evening.
Mr. Rey was of English ancestry. Frequently German residents who had but lately arrived would appear at this store to make a purchase. In case of need he came to our family whereupon one of our youngsters would interpret for him. For this service we were paid the munificent sum of five cents. Early one Saturday evening Mr. Rey called me to interpret the needs of an undersized German who wanted to buy a “Wiege.” This we translated to mean a child’s crib or cradle. The sale had been successfully closed and the customer was already on the sidewalk when he suddenly turned and asked, in German,- What’s the price of a dozen cradles?” When I propounded this to Mr. Rey he exclaimed in consternation “What in the world does he want with a dozen cradles?” We soon elicited the fact that this unsophisticated moron, who had only that morning become a father, had been married for only a few short weeks and he took the position that if his wife was so prolific that an investment in a dozen cradles might be worth while. As a matter of record a Mr. Louis Reiter conducted a small chair factory in the rear of these rooms.
It is to be remembered that for the first few years of its existence, the Dover Block rented and leased offices on the second floor to professional men, including doctors, dentists, lawyers, photographers and others. We recall that Mr. C. F. Anderson and Mr. McCandless both occupied rooms as photographers and that a Dr. J. M. McCoy maintained a suite of dental offices. These of course are only a few of many professional men who occupied space in this building during the late eighties and the nineties.
Now we come to the pump shop of Mr. Daniel Boone who was lineal descendant of his namesake of Kentucky pioneer fame. Mr. Boone was a tall, gaunt, raw-boned man with jet black hair, dark eyes and an aquiline nose of noble proportions. He sported a huge black handle-bar mustache of which he was inordinately proud. He was boastful of his superior strength and stamina and was never more happy that when he could dramatize his power and energy.
When we first knew Mr. Daniel Boone, his shop was located at number 312 Wayne avenue, both well and cistern pumps were made by hand of seasoned lumber. Later he introduced metal pumps both for the kitchen and for outside wells and cisterns. To the best of my knowledge he was the first man in Dayton to produce a deep well or “Drove Pump” as they were then called. He sank such a well on my father’s property, driving it to a depth of ninety eight feet. One of Mr. Boone’s sons, Mr. Albert Boone, now operating from his place of business on State Route 35, Xenia Pike, is a successful well driller, he operating several crews specializing in deep wells. The old brick building which for so many years housed this pioneer pump making establishment has been occupied for many years by the present tenant The Fahrer Heating and Plumbing Company.
In an old double frame residence still in existence, located next door south of the Boone establishment, Mr. E. H. Kenney maintained his home. He conducted one of Dayton’s earliest photograph studios located on the lot north of his residence. In appearance Mr. Kenney was medium tall, a mild sort of a man, with a pleasing personality and a keen sense of humor. He wore a long white beard which gave him the appearance of a benign Santa Claus. He loved children and animals and his fine Manchester Black Terrier, “Tippie” was the pet of the neighborhood. In the time of which we write, the silver dime and silver three cent piece were identical in dimension; similarly there were several copper coins, about the size of the present day twenty five cent piece. These copper coins differed only in the stamped numerals which indicated their value as coins of the realm. Mr. Kenny was always ready to prove Tippie’s ability to select any coin from any group of coins and retrieve the unit the man called for, be it copper or silver. It was uncanny and I don’t know how it was done, but I do know that I frequently saw the dog separate the silver dimes from the silver three cent pieces and segregate the one cent and two cent pieces of that period. Always bringing forth the coin he was told to select.
Mr. Kenney was a successful business man and his atelier was well known throughout the city. He and his wonderful wife raised a family consisting of a son Mr. Sprague Kenney who for many years was silk buyer for a number of local department stores. A daughter, Luella, later married another successful Wayne avenue merchant, Mr. William Heckler of whom we will speak later. In many friendly discussions with Mr. Kenney I recall that he claimed that his immense, boxlike camera, poised on a sturdy tripod and veiled with a heavy dark textile material was equipped with the finest French lens obtainable; that in all America there were only a few such lenses and that if the lens were ever shattered, it could never be replaced.
In common with other early photographers, Mr. Kenney possessed innumerable scenic drops or backgrounds before which the sitter posed in grim majesty. He also had a great variety of papier-mache tables, stands, tree-trunks, pedestals, garden seats and benches. An ingenious and sturdy head clamp held the sitter’s head rigidly immovable and when a customer was posed in this vise-like clamp, under the spreading branches of an imitation tree, the results were often ludicrous. The studio building was taken over at the death of Mr. Kenney by Mr. William Dennewitz and later by a Mr. Richard Hammer. Later it was completely destroyed by fire and the location is now a vacant lot. Mr. Kenney’s home was in the northern half of a double frame structure which abuts on an alley leading from Wayne avenue to Howard street. We learn from an 1882 edition of Williams Directory that the south half of this house was occupied by a Mr. Clemens Wellmeier who conducted a small grocery in the front room.
This same southern half of this double was during my childhood, tenanted by a series of dressmakers. The one I remember best was one Sallie Brown who catered to an elite personal following. I recall that she was one of the first Dayton dressmakers who titled themselves “Modiste”. In later years Miss Brown married a retired coal merchant of considerable wealth. Later, this portion of the building was leased by persons who sublet the downstairs portion to a family named Stimmel. One of this family developed an unsavory reputation and later became involved in the robbery slaying of a fine young man, bookkeeper and cashier for the firm of Allen and Eminger, flour brokers. This family also had the distinction of owning a most malodorous male goat whose sole aim in life seemed to be to toss young intruders over the back fence. How do I know? Well, among others, one of my younger brothers was a victim.
Now we cross the alley and come to the brick storeroom and residence known as number 320 and 322 Wayne avenue. This building was erected early in 1881 by my father John Deis. Prior to its erection this site was the location of one of Dayton’s largest Horse Sale and Livery Stables. It was operated for a number of years by one John F. Stone; later it came under the owner ship of Frank Meiers who boasted of twenty odd head of good horses for delivery and livery service and matched teams for hearses, barouches and carriages. The building was a huge two story barn of frame construction, with ample storage in the loft for hay and grain and other commodities. The lower floor contained the box stalls and stables for the horses, vehicles, harness, saddles, whips, horse blankets, lap robes and other livery paraphanalia.
It was late in the night of February 1881. Our family resided next door and mother was sitting at a window holding me in her arms and attempting to quiet my infantile whimperings. Looking out over the roof of the livery barn she seemed to sense a disturbance in the atmosphere. The stars were shining yet there seemed to be a cloud or mist obscuring them-she smelled an acrid smoke, as if wood were burning and then her terrified eyes saw a tiny flame, growing ever larger until it suddenly burst through the flimsey shingles of the doomed stable roof.
Hurriedly she alerted my father and the other children. Father dressed quickly and awakened some of the neighbors who armed themselves with tools and implements with which to break open the locked doors of the stable. Belatedly someone thought of the fire department who, after arriving worked valiantly but without avail,--the stable and its contents were doomed. Nineteen head of fine horses perished in this holocaust and the building and its entire contents was a total loss. I still recall it in later years of seeing a fire scarred grey horse, once a proud animal, selected because of its beauty and spirit to be one of a team to pull the bridal barouche at weddings. In the fire his ears were burned to a crisp and all that remained of them were two short stumps. Moved by pity, a neighboring seamstress fashioned two imitation ears from some stiff material and covered this frame with clipped sheep’s wool and a saddler permanently attached these imitation ears to the headstall and if you did not look to close the deception was hardly noticeable.
Father bought the lot which had been made vacant by the fire and built the new building the same year, occupying it in the Fall of 1881. Father’s business was incorporated under the firm name of The John Deis Company and from 1881 until the start of the Prohibition amendment under the Wilson administration, he conducted a wholesale and retail liquor and wine establishment.
After the death of our parents the building was inherited by my sister Mrs. Joseph P. Wimmers. My younger brother Hugo A. Deis and my brotherinlaw Joseph P. Wimmers formed a partnership and occupied the building as distributors of soft drinks under the firm name of the Deis-Wimmers Company. When after a number of years this partnership was dissolved the store room was rented to Mr. Paul Leslie Stickel who used it as headquarters for a store equipment sales and service. Later, Mr. Stickel associated himself with Mr. Durwood G. Woodrow who, when they dissolved partnership took over the entire building utilizing the store as a sales and service for cash registers and adding machines. One Sunday afternoon in 1945, a disastrous fire swept through these premises entailing a heavy loss. It has since been completely renovated and now constitutes one of the more substantial buildings on the street. Mr. Woodrow and his family occupy the lower apartment known as number 322 Wayne avenue while the upstairs portion known as 320 1/2 Wayne avenue has been converted into a series of apartments.
The store and residence next door south known as 326 Wayne avenue is now occupied by the Philip Brand and Sons Leather Shop, supplying leather and other incidentals required by shoe repair service. Our earliest records show that the building was owned and occupied in the middle seventies by a Mr. Adam Hawker who operated a grocery and provision market and his family occupying the residence portion. From 1878 until the Fall or Winter of 1881 the store housed the business of John Deis whose family also occupied the living rooms. After our family moved into our own building, the store room was variously occupied by Kern and Starr who manufactured brushes and brooms. Later the store was taken over by the firm of Allen and Eminger, flour brokers.
The residence portion of this building under the tenancy of Kern and Starr and Allen and Eminger was occupied by the widow and children of one Frank Meyers, (not the Meier who operated the livery barn) Philip Brand, father of the present owner Mr. George Brand, purchased this property in 1902, and he and his heirs have owned it ever since. Here the Brand children grew to maturity and the firm of Philip Brand and Son have established themselves for a period of nearly half a century, building a commercial structure of vast potentiality. We have known this family for all of our mature years and their industry and honest dealings with a clientele scattered through most of central Ohio has been remarkable. It is just another case of a family coming to Dayton, willing to work hard and long and establishing themselves as potent factors in the growth of their adopted city.
Next door south of the Philip Brand and Son Leather store is now a vacant lot used as a driveway giving egress for trucks delivering merchandise. It also serves as a parking lot for the personnel of the Brand establishment. This lot formerly housed the home and office of Dr. John Geyer and it was listed in the city directory as number 330 Wayne avenue.
The building tenanted by Dr. John Geyer was erected in the early eighties. It was a pretentious brick structure and substantially constructed. The north side of the lower floor served as a reception room and consultation room while a small adjoining room housed his medicines and medical kits and equipment. The remainder of the house served as a home for his family. While the building was in the process of construction, Dr. Geyer, who then resided in the 800 block on east Fifth street, made daily trips to this site, he personally supervising its construction.
Doctor John Geyer was a Physician of the old school. He also practiced surgery but only in a minor degree. He wrote no medical prescriptions and a visit to this office included not only the examination and the diagnosis but he dispensed the proper remedy concocted in his own small laboratory in accordance with the proven prescriptions of famous German medical authorities. Just as a matter of personal interest,-Doctor Geyer loved fine horses but, -they had to be pacers and they must be good roadsters. Another well known Dayton physician had his residence to the rear of Dr. Geyer’s home and he too loved good horses but-they had to be trotters, high steppers and above all they must be stylish. Quite a bit of rivalry existed between the two good doctors but fortunately the rivalry extended only to their personal estimate of the horses each preferred. The lot on which stood the Doctor John Geyer office and residence is now part of the Brand estate.
The property which now adjoins this lot on the south is occupied by a building which has two store rooms on the street level and apartments on the upper two floors. This building was erected by Hamm Brothers, at that time well known as successful plumbers. The site which now houses this store and apartment building was formerly occupied by a long, shambling, weather beaten frame structure forming what we then called a double cottage. It was more than a cottage insofar that the front elevation indicated an upstairs room, one on each side. Each section of the cottage was composed of two small rooms facing Wayne avenue together with a Summer kitchen and a dining room in the rear of the house. The back of the lot contained two small coal sheds and two very crude toilets or “privvies” as they were then called. Illumination was supplied by kerosine lamps and water was carried from a joint well in the back yard. The two store rooms in the new structure was occupied at various times by a procession of tenants housing a variety of commercial enterprises. The north store room housed a long term tenant in the person of Charles Schumacher who operated under the firm name of The Kemper Printing Company, specializing in the printing of devotional pamphlets and memorial cards. This combined business and apartment building is now owned by The H. J. Osterfeld Company, plumbers.
We have no record of the original ownership of the property adjoining the apartment building on the south. We estimate its age somewhere between eighty and one hundred years. Neither do we recall its early occupants. We do recall that in the late eighties a Mr. George Meyer and wife took residence there, moving from number 266 Bainbridge street when that property was purchased as a residence for the Brothers of Mary who at that time taught in the Holy Trinity Parochial School. Both Mr. Meyers and his wife were accomplished musicians and they continued their residence at number 400 Wayne avenue until death. Mr. Meyers died eight or ten years ago and Mrs. Meyers passed on late in 1949. The old structure is now being remodeled. Just as a matter of interest an early 1880 Williams Directory lists a Mr. George J. Brechtel as operating a barber shop in this location.
The property next door south and known as number 402 Wayne avenue is a combined business and residence building. It too is an extremely old brick structure. The business room is now tenanted by Mrs. Julia Stewart who conducts in income tax notarial service. The upper floors are devoted to the housing of numerous groups of transients. In the earlier days the building housed the business and family of Mr. Peter Grimm. Mr. Grimm first conducted a grocery at this site but later, in the early eighties he equipped it with a loom to practice his profession as a carpet weaver.
Both Mr. And Mrs. Grimm were unusually stern and sedate people, friendly, yet austere, with deep religious convictions. Their family were all given the opportunity to acquire education and culture. The two boys of the family were taught the tailor trade and for a period of nearly fifty years they have owned and successfully conducted Dayton’s outstanding merchant tailoring establishment, catering to the most select trade. We knew of two daughters, the one married to a successful furniture merchant. She died shortly after the birth of her first child; this grand-daughter was also taken into the grand-parent’s home. The younger daughter of the Grimm family was an accomplished violinist and if we recall correctly she was very active in Y. W. C. A. and other similar organization activities.
Peter Grimm’s production of rag carpets was phenomenal both in quality and quantity. The rags used in their weaving was prepared and supplied by the customer. They were laundered and then torn into strips of the correct width and these strips were then basted together and finally rolled into a ball having a radius of eight to ten inches. Frequently I saw a spring wagon loaded with balls of prepared rags for carpet production, delivered to the Grimm establishment. The carpets were durable and could be washed. I am of the opinion that the products of the Grimm carpet loom could be found in many of the rooms in the vast majority of homes that at that time constituted the city of Dayton. In his quiet and unostendatious way Mr. Peter Grimm contributed much toward making Dayton a better place in which to live.
The store room next door south, known as number 406 Wayne avenue had a miscellaneous occupancy of a nature to make little or no impression, however, in 1895 it was tenanted for a while by a Mr. Leopold Westheimer who for a short time conducted a dry goods store in the premises. It is now occupied and a pool and billiard room with the upstairs devoted to the housing of numerous family groups.
The store room on the south and known as number 406 Wayne avenue housed the millinery establishment of Mrs.. Christina Giesler, long famous as suburban Dayton’s most successful hat and bonnet shop. Mrs. Giesler was a tall and rather buxom individual, of the brunette type, extremely active and alert. She had a fine sense for the fitness of things and her color blends indicated an innate artistry. She carried a stock of the felts, stiffening materials, wire for hat frames, ostrich plumes, plumage from egrets and other birds, together with a formidable array of chiffons, ribbons and veiling materials in all the prevailing colors and sizes. Large ornate hat pins, the shanks eight or ten inches long, the heads decorated with imitation jewels were used to secure the hat firmly to the head, the shanks being thrust through the heavy strands of braided hair.
In the early eighties, widows all wore the traditional widow’s bonnet, with long trailing streamers and many of the prevailing hat styles were modeled in the form of a semi bonnet. Toward the end of the eighties and well into the nineties, the flaring flat type hat made its appearance, perching insecurely on top of an elaborate coiffure. They were a prey to every gust of wind. Mrs. Giesler’s house of procedure included fitting a series of hat forms or shapes to determine its fitness to the contour of the customer’s face, then a selection of the colors best suited to the customer’s complexion. When all of the details had finally been determined, actual production of the hat was begun. Mrs. Giesler employed a number of assistants, each qualified to fashion some particular portion of the hat. When the hat in process had progressed well toward completion the customer was called in to voice an opinion or approval. If found satisfactory the hat would be completed and again the customer would be called for a final acceptance. This also developed into a final determined effort of the part of Mrs. Giesler to exercise her sales ability in an endeavor to perhaps replace a cheaper buckle for a more expensive one or to add an additional studded pin for one not so decorative. In those early days all hats for women were made to order and from start to finish required a full week. However, a customer could buy an unfinished hat shape and process it to suit her individual taste and purse. Mrs.. Christina Giesler’s millinery establishment was an institution on Wayne avenue and it survived the vissicitudes of time and an ever changing merchandizing system for nearly a quarter of a century during which time her creations were worn by many of Dayton’s socialites. In later years, for a short time this store room was occupied by a successful lady barber.
The Heckler Block is a series of store rooms and apartments and is listed as number 416 Wayne avenue. It is located on the north east corner of Wayne avenue and McLain street. It was erected in 1888-89. As a lad I made daily trips to this site watching the workmen making the excavation, lay the foundation and finally erect this large structure. Prior to the erection of this building the site was occupied by a ramshackle old frame building which housed the old time grocery and provision market of J. and W. H. Meyer.
Mr. H. Heckler who built this property had married the daughter of Mr. _.A. Kenney pioneer Wayne avenue photographer. During the time when this building was in process of erection, he lived with his wife’s parents and conducted his Dry Goods Store at number 408 Wayne avenue. Mr. Heckler was a most progressive merchant and carried a large stock of dry goods and he had a real knowledge of the real value of a quick turnover. Any stock that did not move fast enough was relegated to the bargain counter and the price marked down. Every week of the year he had “Dodgers” or hand bills printed listing his reduced prices. The dodgers were distributed not only in the city but in neighboring rural communities. Distributors for these dodgers were carefully selected and he maintained a strict discipline over them insisting that each sheet be delivered properly.
Mr. Heckler conducted his business at this site for a period of eight or ten years finally disposing of his business and real estate to retire at a comparatively early age.
One of the early tenants in the Heckler block, listed as number 410 Wayne avenue was one Joseph Ferneding, a member of an old Dayton family well known in the retail boot and shoe business. He too conducted a boot and shoe store, remaining in this location for quite some period and he was conceded to be a most successful merchant.
Similarly, the next room in the Heckler building known as number 412 Wayne avenue was occupied for a number of years by Mr. Clyde Icenberger who conducted a grocery and provision market at this site. He remained at this location until a store and apartment building which he erected across the street at Number 419 Wayne avenue was ready for occupancy.
INTERSECTION OF MC LAIN STREET.
We recall that crossing McLain street, the site now occupied by the Dayton Gymnastic Club, housed the pioneer wagon and blacksmith shop conducted jointly by Adam Hofferberth and Michael H. Hoerch At various times this firm shared parts of their building with others and we recall that a small area set off from the rest of the building and forming the south east corner of Wayne avenue and McLain street contained the photograph studio of W. H. Mc Candless who, we believe, moved his atelier from the second floor of the Dover Block to this first floor location which gave him entry direct from side-walk Level. Later, a Mr. Peter Kauffman operated a photograph gallery at the same location. Similarly, the second floor of the Hofferberth & Hoerch establishment was let at various times to other subtenants among whom we can remember a Mr. Joseph Hook and a Mr. Robert McConnell both of whom operated as carriage manufacturers and carriage painters. Previous to 1882 this same site was listed as a carriage factory conducted by a Mr. Mathias Miller.
When the property housing the firm of Hofferberth & Hoerch was finally sold to make way for the buildings of the Dayton Gymnastic Club, the blacksmith firm moved their equipment to south Miami street between east Fifth and McLain streets. The room in the Dayton Gymnastic Club which now houses the lounge or reading room, is to the best of our knowledge all that remains of the old building which formerly occupied this site.
The brick residence known as number 434 Wayne avenue and located next door south of the Dayton Gymnastic Club, was the residence and studio of Professor Christian Dennewitz. At the time of which we speak, the musical attainments of Dayton were slowly achieving their stride. The Dayton Philharmonic Society, a splendid choral group under the able leadership of Professor Blumenschein was its leading musical organization. Under the batons of various directors many German singing societies flourished among them being the Harugari Liederkrantz, an organization still active both musically and socially. This latter group later erected its own building on Wayne avenue, next to the old Jewish Synagogue which has now been taken over by an association of trade unions. Our military bands had achieved a high pinnacle of artistry and the Band and Orchestra at The Dayton Soldier’s Home were of such a high caliber that touring bands of the day, such as Sousa’s Band and others, secured many of their soloists from this group. The Fourth Regiment Band of Dayton was famous in its day and was under the able leadership of Mr. Lucius Cook. Dayton even boasted of a great Basso Profundo in the person of one George Hessler a member of the New York Metropolitan Opera Company.
Every home had its parlor organ or piano or string or brass instruments and if you aspired to any social distinction you had to be able to play some instrument. Before music was taught in the public schools, many families prided themselves on the artistic performance of their own small family groups.
Professor Christian Dennewitz was an acknowledged leader in his profession and it is our personal conviction that he is largely responsible for much of the musical culture which old Dayton families have inherited.
The next brick building to the south, listed as 426 Wayne avenue was divided into two rooms. To the best of my recollection the room on the north side was tenanted for a time by John D. Schmidt who handled groceries and provisions. The south store housed the barber shop of William Kornman, one of Dayton’s old time barbers. Later it was tenanted by William Knauer, a baker. This dual storeroom was then taken over by a nationally known firm manufacturing and selling flavoring extracts, spices and I believe for awhile the manufactured “SWEET WHEAT” chewing gum. This firm was known as the Royal Remedy Company and it was conducted by Mr. Irvin Souders. It survived for a decade or more. The site is now occupied by the Dayton Food Products Company.
The room known as number 438 Wayne avenue was tenanted in the early eighties by George P. Deis, as a grocery and provision market and later by a chain coffee and tea market listed under the firm name of The Famous Tea Company.
The next brick building to the south was owned and tenanted in the early eighties by the parents of the Steffan family. After the death of the father the mother for awhile operated a saloon and billiard room, the upstairs portion housing her family. A short while thereafter the saloon business was taken over by the elder son Joseph Steffan. Later he disposed of the business however the mother continued the use of the property as a home. Shortly after disposing of the Wayne avenue business Joseph Steffan associated himself with a younger brother Frank Steffan, forming a partnership which resulted in the opening and operation of the Fountain Saloon on east Fifth street. This was conceded to be Dayton’s most popular cafe. Later, the two brothers disposed of this unit and opened the Forum Café on south Main street. This also was a most successful venture. After disposing of this the two brothers entered the wholesale liquor business on east Fourth street and in this they were equally successful. Later they disposed of this business and took a flyer in the purchase of a down town business building on west Fifth street. This investment proved unwise and after shouldering their losses the two brothers dissolved a life long partnership, Joseph entering the candy manufacturing business at which he remained until his death. Frank Steffan then entered the real estate brokerage business which he conducted successfully until his death.
William Steffan a younger brother was for a decade or more the successful operator of the Commercial Café located on east Fifth street. Soon after the disastrous flood of 1913, he disposed of his holdings in this project and assumed the ownership of a fine restaurant on south Jefferson street near Third. The two elder brothers have long since gone to their reward and William is now living in comfortable retirement.
The room known as number 502 Wayne avenue in 1895 housed the plumbing establishment of W. U Shoup, while numbers 506 and 508 is now occupied by the factory to feet retail shoe store of Mr. Christian Watson and Son. Since my research showed no record of previous occupancy we have come to the conclusion that a redistribution of street numbers has made a number of discrepancies involving several store rooms in this vicinity.
Number 512 Wayne avenue was an old brick building which occupied part of the site on which now stands the printing establishment of Mr. Albert Horstman. In the earlier days it was occupied as the store room and residence of Mr. Fred. Kuebler, carpet weaver. Of Mr. Kuebbler and his business venture we know little or nothing other than to know that he occupied this site for a number of years and that during my childhood, Mr. Kuebbler’s carpet shop remained a continuous source of wonder to us who stopped regularly to admire his deft handling of the carpet loom. This same building was previously occupied by another carpet weaver in the person of a Mr. Emil Balski.
An old structure that added much to the fame of Wayne avenue in the eighties and early nineties was listed as numbers 518 and 520 Wayne avenue. It was operated under the firm name of The California House and was an old time hotel and tavern. In after years the old structure was razed and number 5l8 was tenanted by an old time barber Mr. Phillip May while a Mr. Jacob Howald conducted a saloon in number 520 Wayne avenue. The site formerly occupied by the California House is now the site of a modern business structure occupied by The C. L. Mahoney Company, plumbers, and is listed as 530 Wayne avenue.
At number 524 and 526 Wayne avenue which immediately adjoined the old California House, Mr. A. F. Smart conducted a successful coal yard for more that a decade of years. His long time occupancy did its full share in the development of Wayne avenue as a business thoroughfare. Occupying part of the land previously occupied by the A. F. Smart Coal Company is the building erected about in 1917 as a Jewish Synagogue. This building still remains but has been taken over by an association of various trade unions.
The building now known as number 600 Wayne avenue shows an occupancy as early as 1882 in the person of one Frank Braun, a butcher. He later moved his shop to his residence on Howard street near the corner of McLain street. Later it was variously occupied by Klepinger and Wenger, listed a flour and feed dealers and later by John H. Garst who functioned in the same line of business. Later the premises were occupied by Henry Hagen, a baker, who first converted the building for bakery use. For the past twenty years it has been occupied by The Cincinnati Bakery under the ownership of Mr. Schneider.
Number 616 Wayne avenue was tenanted in the eighties by a Mr. Moses Sander who for a number of years operated a gents furnishing store. He was the father of Mr. Nathan Sander, president of May and Company. Later this room was tenanted for a number of years by the Dayton Feather Renovating Company.
Number 620 Wayne avenue was an old building already in the eighties when it housed the office and residence of Dr. Viceroy M. Bailey, M. D. A decade or so thereafter it became the office of Dr. S. Edward Hendron who still occupies this site. Doctor Hendron has spent the greater part of his medical career in this location. He is considered an institution in this heavily congested area and his medical ministrations have been a boon to generations of patients. Doctor S. Edward Hendron can well be proud of his record.
Number 624 Wayne avenue is the north east corner of Wayne avenue and Montana street. In the eighties, Montana street was known as Pearl street and it was the headquarters for Dayton’s infamous Red Light District. For awhile this corner site was tenanted by Mr. Peter Meyers, then one of Dayton’s leading morticians. It was in this same location that Mr. Ben Westbrook first went into business for himself. Later Mr. Westbrook erected his own home on Xenia avenue, this also serving for a time as his place of business. For a generation or more Mr. Ben Westbrook has maintained a palatial funeral home at number 1712 Wayne avenue and he rightfully can be called one of the pioneer business men of Wayne avenue who has contributed much to the development of the street.
An early directory published in 1882 shows that this same site, known as 624 Wayne avenue was tenanted by Mr. Frederick Storck who operated a grocery. The rear of this same building housed the basket weaving establishment of Mr. Herman Bartel.
MONTANA TO RICHARD STREET
Number 630 Wayne avenue now houses the Roger R. Bussdicker Dry Goods Company. In the early eighties this site was occupied by an old ramshackle frame structure, containing two store rooms numbered respectively 630 and 632 Wayne avenue. These rooms were tenanted by Mr. Peter Lenz, a successful tinsmith handling spouting and cornice work and manufacturing pails, drinking cups, funnels, sprinkling cans etc. For a number of years he operated a branch shop in Miamisburg, this branch being under the management of a son Mr. John P. Lenz. In the late eighties the Miamisburg shop was closed and John P. Lenz took over the management of the store at number 630 Wayne avenue. Shortly thereafter Mr. Peter Lenz, tired of inaction. He opened a saloon at number 632 Wayne avenue.
Mr. Peter Lenz was a great lover of birds. At the time of which we speak there were few laws regarding the confinement of song birds. Peter Lenz set aside a room in the rear of this saloon. He place screens at windows and equipped the room with roosts and nests and a fountain with running water. Here he maintained several hundred song and game birds and it was his boast that he had one or more of every species of birds common to this locality excepting only birds of prey. Number 632 Wayne avenue, under the new number set us is now occupied by The Economy Market.
In the storeroom at number 634 Wayne avenue, Mr. Fred Moehlman operated a barrel house. Later he associated with himself as partner Mr. George Kinzeller and together they operated a wholesale liquor store under the firm name of Moehlman and Kinzeller. They enjoyed a modest success but after a term of years they dissolved the partnership and sold the assets at private sale. The room next door south and known as number 636 Wayne avenue was tenanted by one Frank Engel, barber.
The adjoining building known as number 640 Wayne avenue, was occupied for a short term of years by Frank M. Meyer who operated a hardware and cutlery store. It was later occupied by John Popp who conducted a boot and shoe store. This site is now occupied by Theodore C. Guckes, confectioner. Mr. Guckes’ tenancy over a long period of years puts him in the category of a Wayne avenue “Old Timer.”
This section of Wayne avenue between Montana and Richard streets has seen the erection of a number of new structures replacing the original buildings. Thus the present structure at number 630 Wayne avenue had as its first tenant one Frank A. Pfeffer who for a period of ten years conducted a dry goods store at this site. Similarly, Gerweis and Schaefer, moved their grocery establishment from across the street at number 631 Wayne avenue and occupied store numbered 642 which was housed in the new building. Here they operated the Cincinnati Grocery Company as one of a chain of three or four store operated by this firm. To the best of my recollection this small chain of stores were the first local stores secured by the Kroger Grocery Company when they first entered the Dayton field.
Similarly, in this same square Mr. John H. Lukey tore down an old structure at the north east corner of Wayne avenue and Richard street, erecting the Lukey business and apartment building. The corner business room of this new building was occupied by the Market Savings Bank then under the presidency of Mr. Theodore Lienisch. This room is now tenanted by THE DAYTON BAR CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT.
The seven hundred block on Wayne avenue begins at the south east corner of Wayne avenue and Richard street. The corner business room of this new building is tenanted by the Gallagher Drug Company. Originally this site was occupied by a dilapidated frame structure and it was variously tenanted first by Rudolph Dhein who conducted a fruit market and later by a Mr. Mohler who conducted a grocery and provision market. In 1882 a Mr. Peter Holland conducted a confectionery at this same site. The adjoining room number 702 also housed a confectionery for a short while.
The store room and residence known as 706 Wayne avenue was owned and occupied by Doctor Henry Weis a German physician, dentist and apothecary. In connection with his medical practice he concocted his own medicines. Doctor Weis was one of Wayne avenues pioneer institutions. Very dignified in manner, with flowing white locks and a huge patriarchial beard, he was the very antithesis of the modern physician. He made no professional calls-the patients all came to his office in the rear of the store room. The building which he occupied, located at the base of the hill, had several floor levels and one had to step on to a broad thick limestone step to enter the store. This slab was eight or ten inches thick, had a width of approximately three feet and overall length of perhaps eight or ten feet. Whenever the weather permitted and he was not otherwise engaged, two comfortable arm chairs were placed on this platform on opposite sides of the store door. Invariably the good doctor occupied the seat to the north while his buxom wife occupied the other. With arms folded they scanned the passing panorama in peaceful contemplation. If perchance a patient called on him, the good wife would retire to the rear of the shop and the doctor would proceed with the oral examination. When he arrived at a conclusion, the diagnosis complete, he would prepare the proper nostrum, pocket his modest fee and dismiss the patient with a friendly pat on the shoulder.
Doctor Henry Weis became well known throughout the nation when he made and marketed a rather famous herb bitters marketed under the trade name of “Die Wacht am Rhein” translated The Watch on the Rhine. The ornate label advertising this bitters and bearing a splendid likeness of Dr. Weis and his famous beard along with directions for use, made strong claims of curative powers yet the fact remains that it was a splendid tonic and very few of the old timers could be found who had not at some time or other used this medication with fine results. The room originally tenanted by the doctor is now a barber shop.
The old building which housed number 708 Wayne avenue has been razed and the lot is now vacant. In the eighties, one David McNair conducted a livery barn at this site. The adjoining building known as number 710 Wayne avenue housed the activities of Braunschweiger Brothers, leading south end barbers who occupied this site for nearly a life time.
When Mr. Peter Meyers, mortician, moved from his previous location at Wayne avenue and Montana street, he opened an office at number 718 Wayne avenue. His mortuary establishment at this new location was one of the best in the city. In addition to his professional work Mr. Meyers also conducted a livery barn in the adjacent building. The same location that housed his livery barn was previously occupied by a Mr. Daniel A. Hagen, horseshoer and blacksmith. In early 1882 this site housed the book and stationary store of William Argow. At the present time number 718 Wayne avenue is tenanted by Dayton F. Reisinger, a prominent mortician who has occupied this site for a decade or more.
Number 720 Wayne avenue houses the activity of S. A. Andrews and Son, plumbers. Mr. Samuel Andrews, the father was an old time resident of the Wayne avenue section. He came into the neighborhood when not more than a lad and he has occupied the present site for the best part of a lift time. Previously this location was tenanted by Requarth and Poock who conducted a saloon. In or about 1895 Frank Kern operated his broom and brush factory in this same building.
Number 724 Wayne avenue shows a listing as early as 1882 at which time Mr. Henry Beddies occupied the site as a cooper or barrel maker and as a dealer in flour and feed. We are of the opinion that he remained at this site for a long period of time. Beddies’ Lane, a thoroghfare converted from an alley and traversing the distance between Richard street and its southern terminal was named for Henry Beddies.
Similarly the site known as number 726 Wayne avenue was occupied by William Lautenschlaeger who operated a saloon. The property known as number 734 Wayne avenue housed the flour and feed establishment of Carl Hinderland.
Number 802 Wayne avenue is an old brick and stone land mark built into a hillside with outside stone step on the south side leading to the residence portion of the building. This store room was occupied for many years by Mr. Frederick Schmidt and family. Mr. Schmidt operated a butcher shop during most of the mid-eighties and the early nineties. Mr. Schmidt was a brother of Henry D. Schmidt who for a generation operated a meat market on Wayne avenue, near Cass street.
Numbers 810 and 814 Wayne avenue were two adjoining colonial frame houses of noble proportions. They were owned and occupied by two brothers, Mr. Frank Wuichet and Mr. Eugene Wuichet both of whom were members the firm The Gebhart and Wuichet Lumber Company, at that time Dayton’s largest and most progressive lumber company. The two homes were constructed along the same general lines of architecture. They stood on separate lots, each having a frontage of about one hundred feet and their depth extending to Beddies’ Lane.
The grounds were studded with giant trees, remaining as a last stand of a huge forest which at one time timbered this area. We recall in particular two extremely large buckeye trees. With this as a background the Wuichet Brothers added flowers and shrubbery to the extent that their homes were considered show places, -fine homes in a section that was becoming preponderantly commercial.
The two brothers Wuichet were kindly disposed and cultured gentlemen of the old school. Always meticulously clad, they were sedate and most regular in their habits. They walked to and from their offices, always together and morning noon or evening one could set ones timepiece by their regularity. The site which originally housed these two residences is now the site of the Avon apartments and they are listed as 810-812 and 814 Wayne avenue. Number 814 Wayne avenue is now tenanted by the Frank Henderson Company, dealers and service representatives for all types of domestic vacuum cleaning machines. Numbers 810 and 812 Wayne avenue have had a variety of tenants including physicians, optometrists, delicatessen etc.
AT the intersection which we identify as the north east corner of Wayne and Xenia avenues, a Mr. Hoebbner, a successful retired plumber erected a beautiful brick residence immediately after he erected the Avon Apartments. The residence still remains but a portion of the lot has been converted into a service station.
Beyond the intersection of Wayne avenue and Xenia avenue, the east side of Wayne avenue reaching through Clover street and then Wyoming street, was largely a residential district, interspersed with a variety of mercantile establishments. The Wayne Avenue Evangelical Church and Community House occupies the south east corner lot and is identified as number 912 Wayne avenue. They have occupied this site for twenty five to thirty years and we state frankly that we have no record of previous occupancy. The property listed as number 918 Wayne avenue was for many years the residence of Mr. Joseph Lentz, long a prominent merchant and member of the firm of Loges and Lentz, wholesale dealers in notions. They operated their business on east Fifth street. For a short period beginning in 1882, an older building on this same lot, since destroyed, was tenanted by Harry J. Jacobs, for many years prominent in the meat industry.
Number 920 Wayne avenue was occupied during this same early period by a Mr. John Hemming who conducted a tailor shop while the property known as 922 Wayne avenue was tenanted by M. Tyson and Company who was listed as a carriage manufacturer and a carriage painter. During the period beginning in 1882 this same site was occupied by George Cook who also operated as a carriage maker and painter. In 1895 this same number 922 Wayne avenue was tenanted by The Dayton Iron Fence Company under the firm name of Steinbach and Allsteader who formerly occupied a site on the west side of Wayne avenue, near Fifth Street.
Number 1180 Wayne avenue is now a residence but in 1882 it was occupied by a Mrs. Barbara Schmauss who at that time conducted a notion store. In 1895 the site was occupied by Dr. C. W. Salisbury.
Number 1116 Wayne avenue was occupied variously by one Charles C. Pfaul, a dealer in fruits and later by H. D. Baumgartner who operated a confectionery. It is now tenanted by a Dry Cleaning establishment.
Numbers 1120-1122 Wayne avenue now houses Carl’s Body Shop. This location was opened as an auto sales and repair shop by one Herbert D. Symmes. The shop was later sold to Mr. Victor Hubler who conducted it for a number of years until he built his own place of business on Wyoming street. It later became Hahn’s Garage and then Carl’s Body Shop.
Number 1126 Wayne avenue is now tenanted by a shoe repair shop. In the early years of Wayne avenue it housed the business of J. M. Heeter, a dealer in flour and feeds. A more recent occupant was the Waltz Heating and Plumbing Company. Number 1128 Wayne avenue was carried in an 1882 city directory as a grocery operated by Paul Reiser.
The corner store room known as number 1132 Wayne avenue, located at the north east intersection of Wayne avenue and Clover street is now tenanted by The Coffman Pharmacy; prior to this tenant Mr. Truman J. Wall also conducted a pharmacy at this site. For a period of twelve or fourteen years Mr. Peter Thein, well known in Dayton’s German circles conducted a saloon in this property, he remaining here until hi death. Mr. Peter Thein and family were of high repute; they were well known and highly respected. His son was for many years a popular member of the Dayton Police Department and is now engaged as Guard at the Winter’s National Bank and Trust Company, corner of Main and Second streets.
The south east corner of Wayne avenue and Clover street known as number 1204 Wayne avenue was for a good many years the business address of Mr. William Shock who for many years conducted a horse shoeing shop at this site. The old shop building has long since been razed making way for a double frame residence. Lately a front has been added, making an additional store room now occupied as a delicatessen shop and a sales outlet for soft drinks, wine and beer.
Number 1208 Wayne avenue was the residence and barber shop of Mr. John Hauck. This establishment harked back to the time when in addition to the tonsorial arts, the barberpracticed the almost forgotten art of blood letting or cupping. This in addition to shaving, hair cutting, beard trimming and hair singeing made the old barbers masters of many trades. In those olden days, old time fever patients and some old fashioned medical men favored the opinion that at the first sign of fever, blood letting should be practiced. Patients rather favored the leeching process. The leech, a blood sucking aquatic worm was permitted to attach itself to the patients body and when it had completely sated itself with the patient’s blood, it dropped off. It was then again placed in a jar of water until another patient fed it. John Hauck and his son practiced this art until late in the eighties. This property has since been converted and is now the office of Dr. Edgar A. Sherk.
Number 1220 Wayne avenue was occupied in 1895 by the wholesale notion firm of Loges and Lentz. They removed their plant from this location to their permanent plant on east Fifth street, occupying the Wayne avenue location for only a relatively short term.
Number 1308 Wayne avenue housed the residence of Mr. George Deis and family for a period of nearly a life time. Mr. Deis was the general agent for the Teutonia Fire Insurance Company a well known locally owned fire insurance company. During the First World War, all things bearing a German title came into disrepute and set up a sales opposition that was hard to beat. To be patriotic this firm changed its name to The Reliable Fire Insurance Company under which name it still operates. From young manhood until his death at the age of seventy two years, Mr. Deis represented this firm and he was well known and highly respected by the greater portion of Dayton’s citizenry.
In those early days the local representatives of the better known fire insurance companies, always drove fast horses hitched to sturdy buggies and whenever possible they followed the horse drawn fire apparatus to the scene of the fire. If the loss was not too great they made an immediate estimate of the damage, to be followed by a nearly immediate adjustment of the incurred losses. At an early age, Mr. George Deis’ youngest son, Mr. William A. Deis followed in his father’s footsteps entering the employe of the Reliable Insurance Company as a city agent. This father and son team have contributed a total of nearly three quarters of a century with the same firm. The property known as the George Deis residence site was sold a number of years ago to make way for a super market. Recently it has been converted into Dayton’s most modern self serve chain store.
Number 1312 Wayne avenue was tenanted at various times by one George L. Krug who conducted a grocery and by Harry O. Oswald who operated a tavern or saloon. Number 1314 Wayne avenue was tenanted for a number of years by Charles E. Voorhees, a barber. Later the same site was occupied by Henry Heyer, also a barber. In number 1420 Wayne avenue Mr. Joseph Wasmuth conducted a saloon while number 1422 Wayne avenue housed the meat establishment of Meyer J. Jacobs.
Mr. J. E. Kline for a generation or more had his store and residence at the south east corner of Wayne avenue and Lathrop street. He conducted a stove store and tin shop making spouts and cornices and handling a diversified line of sheet metal products. The same building also housed his fine family.
In concluding the business history of the East Side of Wayne Avenue from Fifth street to Wyoming Street, we are aware that ther must needs be some discrepancies, particularly where a later structure replaced an original one. Later assignments of identifying street numbers frequently differed from the original. To illustrate this point the present numbers 320 and 322 Wayne avenue was carried in the 1880 directories as number 324 Wayne avenue.
The information which follows lists the business establishments located on the west side of Wayne avenue beginning with its junction with east Fifth street and continuing progressively to the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Wyoming street.
The southwest corner of Wayne avenue and Fifth street, prior to the erection of the three story building which now occupies this site housed the grocery establishment of J. D. Grimes. The building they occupied was an old weatherbeaten frame structure which had become a land mark in this area. Some time in 1882-83 Mr. Grimes disposed of this grocery, selling it to Hoskot and Son, Henry E. and Charles. This firm progressed for some years; the writer has only a faint recollection of the father but we do recall the son as a well dressed and dapper young business man who later made quite a name for himself as a successful flour broker. The three story building which was erected on this site was at one time owned by the Dayton Italian Society. One of its first tenants was Mr. John Staugler a popular saloon keeper and ardent sportsman. Later it became one of a café chain operated under the firm name of Son, Incorporate. They lately disposed of it to a private individual operating now under the firm name or Lou’s Café.
A portion of the old building housing the grocery of J. D. Grimes, later the Hoskot Grocery, was a small room identified as number 305 Wayne avenue. During the early eighties it housed the activities of Mr. A. Jungclas who operated a shop devoted to the making and repairing of copper, tin and other small sheet metal commodities.
Number 309 Wayne avenue is the first room of a series of store rooms now housing the furniture and upholstering establishment of Wiedmeier and Company. Incidentally, this old frame structure, still in good repair, has withstood the ravages of time and two fires plus the devastating flood of 1913. After the last fire which I believe occurred in 1945-46 the structure was purchased by the children of Mr. Wiedmeier, renovated, fire walls installed and a cement block addition placed on the rear facing the alley.
Originally this structure housed the activities of the hardware, cutlery and seed store conducted by R. Hartnett and Company. Apparently this firm was taken over in the early eighties by The George Grabedinkel Hardware Company, his store being listed as numbers 311-313 Wayne avenue. Mr. Grabedinkel and his chief clerk Mr. Wesley Marquardt were progressive merchants and the store remained a beehive of industry for more than a quarter of a century. It survived until the great flood of 1913 when Mr. Grabedinkel disposed of his stock of merchandise at sacrifice prices and retired to enjoy an old age of ease and comfort.
An adjoining shop identified in the old directories as number 313 Wayne avenue housed the activities of Mr. Adam Steinbach who conducted a general blacksmith shop and forge at this location. Mr. Steinbach was a business man possessing artistic talents and his ability to forge an intricate pattern was well established. Mr. Adam Steinbach had quite a numerous family several of his sons achieving prominence as successful chiropractors, a practice in which they are still engaged. Later Mr. Adam Steinbach associated with himself as partner one Otto Allstaedter who operated as The Dayton Iron Fence Company. This firm remained active for many years later moving their location to number 922 Wayne avenue. Many of the ornamental iron fences produced by this firm may still be seen throughout the city.
As previously stated the Wiedmeier Furniture and Upholstering Company now own this building and have occupied it for nearly a generation. They have withstood the ravages of time and the elements but by dint of hard work and perseverance they have established themselves as leaders in their industry.
The old brick building now identified as numbers 319 and 321 Wayne avenue is now occupied by the Wayne Avenue Bakery and they have occupied this site for a period of ten years or more. This building, now close to a hundred years of age was originally tenanted by one Jacob Kraft who operated a saloon on one side and a billiard room in the other. He continued here until his death. Later the saloon site was occupied by Mr. Caspar Burger who also operated a saloon long famous for its world’s fair type of schooner, a huge glass holding well over a quart of the amber fluid which sold for the munificent sum of five cents per glass. He too remained in this location for a number of years until his untimely death.
The other side of the building was occupied at various times by a diversified list of merchants. Thus in 1877, John Deis began operation of his wholesale and retail liquor and wine store. Later it also became the first location of Emmett F. Gardiner, who operated a filling station. He later moved to his present location at the corner of Wayne avenue and Cass street. As stated above the two store rooms are now occupied by The Wayne Avenue Bakery who have sublet the apartments above.
The old frame cottage known as number 323 Wayne avenue was originally erected in the late seventies by one Judge Baggott who for awhile maintained his office at this site. This Judge Baggott was an uncle of the late Judge Baggott and several times removed in the lineage of the Baggotts now practicing in Dayton. In later years this cottage was tenanted by Otto Zolg who for a comparatively short period occupied it as a boot and shoe repair shop. In later years it mostly stood vacant.
The adjacent property known as 325 Wayne avenue was an unpainted weatherbeaten frame structure of extremely early vintage. For a short while during the early eighties it served as the office and residence of one Doctor John Nolan. After that, for a generation or more it was the home of the Charles Keller family. This unique couple were of German or Hungarian ancestry and both possessed odd traits of character. For all the years when we knew them, the husband Charles wore tiny gold ear-rings. He operated as a commercial knife and scissor grinder and as an umbrella mender or repairman. When he first began to follow this trade, he carried his foot operated grinder wheel and stand strapped to his back. He announced his presence in any neighborhood by the continuous ringing of a large hand bell, similar to the one used by the milkmen of that day and the school principal who summoned the children for class formation.
In later years Charlie discarded the shoulder carried equipment which now was conveyed in a neat spring wagon, a huge advertising type of umbrella sheltering him from the elements. Charlie Keller and his black horse “Charlie” were both familiar figures in Dayton streets. The old man had a fondness for strong drink and as the day progressed he more and more sought work from the many saloon keepers who needed sharp knives to shave the meat for their free lunches. Frequently he took his pay in potent drinks until the close of the day when he was totally inebriated. His horse ”Charlie” was well trained, - don’t care how helpless the old man became, the horse would bring him home safely. Frequently he was unable to dismount from his vehicle and his wife would then come to his assistance. She would see to it that the horse was properly stabled and fed and then she would lead her spouse home, rifle his pocket for his earnings and then let him slumber peacefully either on the rear porch or in the kitchen, depending on the weather.
Charlie’s wife was quite a charater in her own rights. A buxom woman she feared neither man nor beast. A sign on the door listed her as a German Clarvoyant or Fortune Teller and her income from this source was not inconsequential. She also had some sort of a contact with a well known suburban club devoted to uproarious night life. About eight o’clock in the evening she hitched the horse “Charlie” to the “Jagger-Wagon” and three or four patrons who had assembled at her home climbed into the vehicle and she drove them to the rendezvous. In the early morning hours, she would again return the group sadly the worse for wear and tear and from her home they dispersed to their own lodgings.
The brick residence identified as number 329 Wayne avenue housed the interesting family of John Ahlers, carpenter. This family came to the Wayne avenue location some time in the late seventies and they occupied the property until all of their children had matured. In addition to the father and the mother the family consisted of three sons and a daughter. The eldest son William Ahlers established himself as one of Dayton’s leading furriers. The second son John Ahlers, Jr spent nearly the whole of his adult life in the employ of the National Cash Register Company, holding responsible executive positions in connection with industrial and political contacts. For many years he served the city in many capacities and he was several times elected to the City commission. At the present time he is serving as County Commissioner for Montgomery County. In addition he spent much of his time in promoting the welfare of the Red Cross and similar organization activities. The daughter Elizabeth married a very successful merchant in Middletown Ohio, while the younger son Robert spent nearly all of his adult life as an executive of the General Motors Corporation, with whom he still serves. This family of children were all hard working young folks whose opportunities in life were not a bit better than were those of other neighborhood children. My personal conviction is that a goodly portion of their success should be attributed the their splendid mother- a mother who strove with all her might to instill in the hearts of her children those qualities of perseverance, right thinking and helpfulness to others-qualities without which no success is possible. We oldtimers of Wayne avenue are very proud of the success achieved by the Ahlers.
In the early eighties, number 331 Wayne avenue, was a handsome brick structure at the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Van Buren street. It was occupied for nearly a generation by one Christian Schmidt and family. Mr. Schmidt was the owner of one of Dayton’s better known retail merchant tailoring establishments. We recall him very well, remembering him as a short, roly-poly sort of an individual, always meticulously clad, a walking advertisement for his profession. His good wife had a most kindly disposition and had built a reputation as a neighborhood angel of mercy always ready to render those acts of kindness so welcome in times of distress.
After the death of Christian Schmidt, the site was occupied for a short while by Mr. Charles Selz who was a professional musician and also conducted a grocery and confectionary at this site. He was father of Thomas, Charles, Edward and Ralph Selz who were active in the development of the Pearl Laundry. The site again became a merchant tailoring establishment soon after the death of Mr. Selz when the property was leased to Mr. William Woeste. Mr. Woeste’s tailor shop remained at this site for a period of years after which he located at number 629 Wayne avenue. When in late life Mr. Woeste retired from business he erected a home for his declining years near Phillipsburg, Darke County at or about the intersection of State Routes 40 and 49.
When Mr. Woeste vacated the property at number 331 Wayne avenue, it was remodeled to meet the requirements of a modern undertaking establishment, operated by the well known firm of Krug and Litkowski who remained in this location for a period of eight or ten years, when the building was destroyed by an explosion of undetermined origin. After this disaster Krug and Litkowski purchased the old Harry Coleman residence on Van Buren street which they converted into a mortuary establishment which survived until after the death of Mr. John Litkowski many years later.
It is a matter of record that adjacent to the brick property identified as number 331 Wayne avenue, there stood a small frame cottage occupied by the barber shop of Laurenz Dany who operated there until 1882. At that time he sold his shop to a Mr. William (Bill) Johnston, also a barber who later moved to a new location on east Fifth street, immediately opposite to Walnut street.
About 1884 the old frame cottage was torn down and a one story brick addition was added to the old Schmidt property as it was still called. The store room in this brick addition was first tenanted by Mr. Rudolph Dhein, a son in law of Mr. Christin Schmidt; he conducted a fruit market remaining for several years when he moved to the country to operate a fruit farm. When he vacated this site it was tenanted by one Samuel Woods who for a number of years conducted a meat market at this stand.
Then came DESTRUCTION! I recall that I had been suffering some slight ailment, probably a mild case of Flue. My home remedies having failed I called at the office of our family physician, Dr. Edw. C. Crum whose office was located on the north side of east Third street at a point nearly opposite to Wayne avenue. The good doctor diagnosed my case, supplied a quantity of medicine and recommended that I go home and go to bed for a few days. Leaving his office I proceeded south on Wayne avenue. When I arrived at near the junction of Fremont avenue I stopped suddenly, and for no apparent reason I looked up. The sight which I thought I saw in the southern sky filled me with dismay! momentarily I considered-could I be delirious.-Was I losing my mind?
High up in the southern sky,-stood a brick house then, - P U F F- followed by the complete disintegration of the building, the debris falling to the earth and settling in a huge cloud of dust. The John Ahler’s residence had been completely demolished by an explosion of undetermined origin. Not only was the Ahlers residence demolished but the building housing the mortuary firm of Krug and Litkowski. Damaged by flying timbers, bricks and glass were the Brand and the Deis properties. I recall that nearly all of the windows of our property at number 320 and 322 Wayne avenue were completely shattered and that a flying piece of scantling was hurled through an upstairs window and pierced a nine inch brick partition wall. Also the mattress on mother’s bed had been made useless by flying glass particles which had slashed the mattress to ribbons. Fortunately the explosion occurred at the time when the Ahlers family were away and there was no record of death of injury.
A year or so after this event The Standard Oil Company secured the premises formerly housing the old Baggott cottage, the Charles Keller residence, the Ahler residence site and the Schmidt store and residence converting it into a Service station site. During the Fall of 1949 this rather modest service station was dismantled and at this writing is has been replaced by an enlarged and modernized structure.
VAN BUREN STREET TO CASS STREET.
Beyond Van Buren street and listed as number 405 Wayne avenue stood an old frame building housing the confectionary of Benjamin K. Doudna. Occupying a large area but listed in the old city directories as number 411 Wayne avenue, was an old time livery stable operated for awhile by one Joseph B. McBride. I think it was prior to his occupancy that the same site housed the livery stable of Theodore Kramer. In 1895 the livery firm of Corry and Dickey took over this site.
In 1882 the adjoining shop known as 413 Wayne avenue housed a horse shoeing shop conducted by John O’Meara. Similarly an early directory lists John K. Whiteside as operator of a horse shoeing shop at number 417 Wayne avenue while a Thomas Judy occupied room number 415 Wayne avenue as a barber shop. We believe that this room is now operated by Burns’ Market.
The line of old building originally at this site beginning with the confectionery at the corner of Van Buren and Wayne avenue and including the livery barns and the horse shoeing shops, withstood the ravages of time and long years of service until well after the disastrous flood of 1913 when they were torn down and replaced by modern structures. Number 401 Wayne avenue is now a Café and Night club. Number 405 Wayne avenue has had a long time tenant in the person of Mr. Richard C. Nash specialist in heating appliances and controls. Numbers 407 and 409 are leased by The White Cross Beauty Shop Supply Company.
The structure known as 419 Wayne avenue was to the best of my recollection an old residence later acquired by Mr. Clyde Icenbarger, who razed the old building, replacing it about the year 1912 with a brick building consisting of two store rooms with two apartments on the second floor. Clyde Icenberger was the son of a Dayton minister and brother of one of Dayton’s oldest and best known druggists, long famous as the producer of the nationally known “Puritan Easter Egg Dyes”. Prior to the erection of his own building Clyde Icenberger conducted his grocery and meat market across the way in a room of the Heckler block now occupied by the Poeppelmeyer Company. After completing his new structure he transferred his grocery stock to the new location where he remained until his death. The corner store room in which he conducted his business is now under lease to The Dayton Typewriter Company.
In the area between the alley next to number 419 Wayne avenue, there existed a conglamorate group of old structures long since torn down. During the eighties and early nineties these old buildings housed quite a variety of small mercantile establishments. Numbered respectively number 429 and number 431 Wayne avenue, was an old brick structure housing two store rooms on the ground level with lodgings and living quarters on the second floor Number 429 Wayne avenue was occupied in the early eighties by one Friedericha Dotte, who conducted a small confectionery shop. Later this same room became the cobbler shop of Joseph Spitzig. The second store room known as number 431Wayne avenue was for a decade or more the bicycle sales and repair shop operated by Gilbert Brothers. In those early days when one of the small boys in the neighborhood could not be found in his usual haunts, the search was generally directed to Gilbert Brothers’ shop where the kiddie could usually be found so engrossed in watching the repair of a neighbors’ bicycle that they often forgot to go home for their meals.
At a later date, Joseph Spitzig the cobbler moved his shop into a two room cottage, three or four doors south of his original location where he plied his trade for nearly a generation. Mr. Spitzig was a youthful emigrant from his native land, who by diligence and practical economy together with a studious effort to completely satisfy his customers, amassed modest wealth, enough to insure him a competence for life. He reared a fine family of children to whom he gave every opportunity to advance in their chosen profession or trade.
Number 433 Wayne avenue was the frame residence of John Hand and family The corner saloon and billiard room identified as number 435 Wayne avenue was owned and operated by one Albert Hoefler who a few years afterwards died of tuberculosis. The operation of the saloon was then taken over by John Hand. He had conducted this business for only a few short years when he too died. In later years the place had several owners among whom we list one Calvin B. Bently and later by a Mr. Caspar Ens. The old building survived until after the 1913 flood and the entire footage,- using the alley to its northern border to the south west corner of Cass street, is now identified as number 431 Wayne avenue and it is under the independent ownership and management of Emmett F. Gardiner who conducts a gasolene service station. Mr. Gardiner can too be catalogued as an Old Time Wayne Avenue Booster.
CASS STREET to JONES STREET.
The southwest corner of Wayne avenue and Cass Street is identified as number 503 Wayne avenue. It is an old brick store room and residence and was erected in the late seventies. My first recollection of its occupancy was in the early eighties when it was occupied by John G. Pfeffer and family. Here he operated a saloon and pool and billiard room for several years and he was well and favorably known, particularly for the quality and quantity of his “free lunches.” His occupancy endured for perhaps seven or eight years after which time he left the neighborhood. From then on the building was occupied by a rapidly changing personnel, mostly engaged in the barber business.
Number 505 Wayne avenue is also a brick structure of ancient lieneage. My earliest recollection brings to mind the tenancy of John Dany who in the late seventies and early eighties operated here as a boot and shoe merchant. It was about the year 1885 that the Henry D. Schmidt family took over this building in which Mr. Schmidt operated a butcher shop. His meat shop was a quality shop and he held his standard of quality extremely high. In these days of high meat prices we recall with amazement that father’s table usually seated thirteen or fourteen persons. It was one of my chores to go to Henry D. Schmidt’s meat market before I went to school. If not otherwise instructed, at least four days of the week we carried home seven large choice cut porterhouse steaks together with luncheon meats etc. The daily purchase was tabulated in pencil in a small hand carried account book and on the first of the month a cash settlement was made. I recall that the total cost for the month amounted to a sum that today would hardly buy one medium size round steak per day. Mr. Henry D. Schmidt conducted his meat market at this site for a period of eight or ten years after which he disposed of it to enter the plumbing business with his elder son. In later years the building was acquired by the Goldflies interests who for a while conducted a summer garden and café on the premises. Lately it has been used as a dry cleaning establishment.
Number 509 Wayne avenue housed the confectionery of George T. Jackson while number 515 Wayne avenue was occupied by George Folkerth and Company, dealers in furnaces etc. At a still later date this store room housed the Becker Roofing company.
The old double brick residence known as 521 and 523 Wayne avenue was the home of Mr. Joseph Osterday who conducted a carriage paint shop in the rear of his lot. Mr. Osterday together with Mr. Samuel Rohrer, who spent a life time in the Government Postal Service, maintained their homes in this location for more than a generation.
In the early eighties Mr. John C. Dietz conducted a drug store or apothecary as they were then called, housed in his own building which contained three store rooms with apartments in the upper floor. The building was generally know as Dietz’s block and was identified as numbers 525-527-529-531 Wayne avenue. Mr. John C. Dietz conducted his store for more than a generation and was considered one of the street’s most successful merchants. For a number of years one of his sons conducted a plumbing establishment on the rear of the premises; the business grew to such dimensions that he was compelled to add an additional building fronting on Jones street. For a number of years the store room known as 531 Wayne avenue was occupied by Gitzinger and Company who specialized in gas grates, mantles, tiles and similar products.
Today the entire Dietz Block as listed from 525 to 531 Wayne avenue is known as the BLOOD BLOCK. The entire building is now occupied by The Blood Hardware and Supply Company who have operated at this site for many years conducting one of the most complete stores of its kind in the city.
For a short time, near 1895 room numbered 527 Wayne avenue was tenanted by Mr. H. G. Hueffelman, a boot and shoe merchant. Prior to the erection of the Dietz Block or The Blood Block as it is now known, we have record of a Mr. David Mentel who conducted a grocery and provision market in an original building razed to make way for the newer structure.
JONES STREET TO RICHARD STREET.
An old record which we consulted shows that a Mr. John H. Dierken conducted a saloon at the south west corner of Wayne avenue and Jones street. We have no record on numbers 603 and 605 Wayne avenue other than the present occupancy of Preston Foster Tire shop, located at number 607 and a restaurant in number 609 Wayne avenue. An extremely old record shows occupancy of number 611 Wayne avenue by one Ernest Ferrabee listed as an interior decorator and frescoer with number 619 listed as the home and office of Dr. John A. Romspert. This latter site is now occupied by The Wayne Theater. We are quite sure that a number of discrepancies exists in the listing of a number of the building sites in this city square. We attribute this to a number of building changes made from the original resulting in a confusion of identifying street numbers. We have no record to confirm but we do recall that one Mr. Dixon occupied one of the old store buildings for a considerable number of years, he engaging in the tin, copper and other sheet metal work.
Number 625 Wayne avenue is now occupied as a barber-shop but in earlier years it housed the meat market conducted by Mr. Louis Grabbe.
Number 627 Wayne avenue was for a generation or more the home and business place of Peter A. Mertz who dealt in harness, saddles, horse collars, saddle blankets, lap robes, horse blankets, whips and sundry saddlery supplies. Unlike saddlers of today, Mr. Mertz made his leather goods to order and it was not an uncommon sight to see a farm team tied in front of Mr. Mertz’s establishment and he taking exact measurements to insure a comfortable fit.
The store room identified as number 629 Wayne avenue according to old records, reveals that a Mr. John C. Gondert conducted a boot and shoe store at this site. Today it is tenanted by a cigar and tobacco shop.
Number 631 Wayne avenue for several years housed the grocer of Schaefer & Gerwels who at that time operated three additional stores located at Third and Williams street, Troy and Plane street and 133 south Jefferson street. With the demolition of the old building across the street and the erection of a new building now housing a Kroger Grocery Company store, they moved their Wayne avenue store to the new location. Schaefer & Gerwels operated under the firm name of the Cincinnati Grocery Company. As previously stated, we have been told that the four stores of the Cincinnati Grocery Company operated by Schaefer & Gerwels were the first units acquired by the Kroger interests when they first entered the local field.
Number 633 Wayne avenue for many years housed the modern conception of a shoe store; it was operated by Mr. Edward Zahn. Many of us oldsters recall the old style shoe store and the old time shoe or boot. The footwear was built sturdily of honest to goodness cow-hide, heels affixed with wooden shoe pegs and the soles, if not hand sewed were firmly set in place with either shoe pegs, brass nails or in some cases, hob nails. Decorations were sparse but boots nearly always had a protective metal shield usually constructed of burnished copper or brass, to prevent scuffing the toes. This footwear was built to give substantial wear but comfort was a secondary consideration. Frequently an elder son would be shod with a new pair of these sturdy shoes but, in short time he outgrew them and then a younger brother would inherit them and perhaps he too would outgrow them and then perhaps another younger brother inherited them finally finishing the job. Mr. Edward Zahn was a pioneer in the merchandizing of factory built shoes built to wear but decoratively dressy and comfortable. To this store flocked whole families of boys now grown to grand fathers estate who recall their first pair of modern shoes purchased from Edward Zahn. In later years, before he retired Mr. Zahn’s son entered the business as a partner.
One of our older records show that a Mr. Conrad Bickel operated a carpet weaving shop at number 635 Wayne avenue. Later this same store room was occupied by Mr. William Woeste, a merchant tailor, who had moved to this location from number 331 Wayne avenue. He remained at this site at number 635 Wayne avenue until he retired from business.
Number 641Wayne avenue, an old two story brick building was according to old records the site of an old time saloon owned and operated by a Mr. Waltz. If we are correctly informed Mr. Waltz was the father of an eminent civil engineer who was connected in this capacity with both the municipal and county engineering activities. When we knew the place it was the saloon of Mr. John Lukey who also owned the property. He came to this location in the early eighties and he remained in this area during his entire life time. The old building has long since been razed and the original street number has been carried for a long time by The Bricher Plumbing Company. Number 645 Wayne avenue identifies the offices of The Olnor Engineering Company while number 647 is the address of The Ohio State Liquor Store.
Without fear of successful contradiction we can say that John Lukey conducted Wayne avenues most popular saloon at this location which was the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Richard street. We also say that John Lukey was one of Wayne avenue’s most successful business men. This is confirmed by the fact that just prior to and after his retirement he erected the building housing store rooms and apartments at the north east corner of Wayne avenue and Richard street. This building is known as the Lukey Building and was erected primarily as a home for The Market Savings Bank of which at that time Mr. Theodore Lienisch was president. Later he erected another building on the site once housing his saloon at the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Richard street. This new building is now the permanent home of the Market Branch of the Winter’s National Bank and Trust Company.
In his capacity as owner and operator of one of Dayton’s most popular saloons, Mr. Lukey was a most congenial host. He knew everybody and he was liked by all. Despite the fact that he was a sober and industrious business man he enjoyed life to the utmost and he was well known to the sporting fraternity. He loved horses and racing of all sorts and whenever he felt so inclined he and a group of boon companions would head for Latonia, at that time our most popular racing resort. He was not adverse to modestly play the ponies however, his saloon always remained a place of amusement and good fellowship and no form of gambling activities were permitted on the premises.
It seems that in those early days a Dayton business man lived a fuller life; he knew how to relax. As stated earlier Mr. Lukey loved horses; he owned and drove a small sorrel pacing mare, extremely fast and stylish. With this little seven hundred pound mare hitched to a stylish highly polished runabout, Jack Lukey was the envy of all who saw him. Jack knew and called everybody by their first name and when driving south on Wayne avenue he invariably halted at Fifth street where he was always greeted with boisterous acclaim. When the greetings were over he would quietly place the reins between the whip socket and the shiny dash and then he let out a vociferous ‘GIDDAP”. The little mare knew exactly what was expected of her and she would set off at racing speed and without any guidance whatsoever carry Jack to his home. Many of us old Grandfathers remember Jack Lukey and his fast little sorrel mare and heave a sigh for the good old times when things mover a bit slower.
In this same connection we recall the congeniality and the camaraderie existing among the old time merchants of Wayne avenue. The noon hour was siesta time;-no, they didn’t close their shops, but many of them took a nap in a rear room and if you looked into their stores their clerks might be seen reclining in chairs, snoozing and perhaps snoring a bit. During mid-week it was not uncommon to have the smithie Adam just kind’a drop in on hardwareman George, commenting nonchalantly that things looked just right for a bit of fishin’! What does George think of it? George replies that its OK by me and he wonders of John wouldn’t like to go too and Adam remembers that Peter was a good fisherman and he too is invited and soon the kids are wise to the fact that a fishin’ excurshion is in the making and then about 1.30 o’clock two or three wagon loads would leave the street, hauling merchants and their children and four or five long bamboo fishing poles and carrying an ample supply of sandwiches and wherewithal to quench the thirst and happily they would drive to Harsmanville on the Mad River or perhaps to Old Henry’s place on the Stillwater River or to Miller’s Grove on the Great Miami. Frankly, they didn’t do much fishin’ but they relaxed and the kiddies had lots for fun and everybody was happy.
Burns Avenue bisecting Wayne avenue at the Little Market House has quite a history, little known to the general public. Some of the oldtimers still recall that originally the bed of the Mad River was banked by the steep hills on the south side of Eagle street and that the Mad river crossed Wayne avenue at or near Burns avenue. It must have been some time after the close of the Civil War that the present channel bed of the Mad River was dug and the stream diverted to its new bed. The fact remains that the old channel still carried a vast amount of drainage and to take care of this they dug Seeleys Ditch. This ditch as originally conceived was ideated by the thought that laterals could be dug from the ditch and these laterals tied in with the canal, should carry water power to production sites who had no available power. This scheme was later discarded and Seeleys Ditch simply carried away neighborhood drainage. Finally, years after its first conception, a huge sewer, placed under the park surface of Burns avenue was installed and this part of the history of old Dayton now lies buried under the street, the sewer exhausting into the river at a place just west of the Washington street bridge.
BURNS AVENUE TO HICKORY STREET.
Number 703 Wayne avenue was occupied in the early eighties by E. Mohme & Company who conducted a saloon and grocery at this location. We do not know how long they occupied this site but in later years it was taken over by a Mr. Mohler who remained for a decade or more. Today the site is known as the Market Cafe.
Number 705 Wayne avenue had an early and continuous tenant specializing as a fish market. I have been unable to learn the owners name however it was later occupied by one Morris Schwartz who operated in the merchandizing of china and glass ware. In later years it was again converted to fish market use by Maurice Footer. Similarly, the room known as number 707 Wayne avenue has had an ever changing personnel in a variety of enterprises however it is now tenanted by Charles H. Tucker, jeweler.
The building originally identified as number 715 Wayne avenue was occupied for a generation or more by the family of Mr. Joseph Burwinkle, who was one of Wayne avenues better known dry goods merchants. He occupied this site for many years, eventually selling it to Mr. Charles Feth whose daughter Cora Feth conducted the business for a period of eight or ten years. The property is now occupied by R. T. Reeves and Company, who handle a line of tiles, linoleum and similar products. The building is now identified as number 721 Wayne avenue.
The building now housing the Forney Feed Stores was formerly known as 721 to 727 Wayne avenue. It has had a most varied occupancy. Thus in 1882 the firm of Bucher and Bucher operated a successful cigar factory for quite a number of years, their products winning popular acclaim. In a room known as 725 Wayne avenue, F. N. Ludy and Company operated a harness and saddlery shop. In 1882 Mr. Fred Freier had a boot and shoe store at this site then listed as 727 Wayne avenue. The room known as 729 Wayne avenue was operated as a bakery by Mr. Fred Lang who later bought the building at number 911 Wayne avenue to which site he moved his bakery. The store identified as number 733 Wayne avenue was for a short while tenanted as a meat market by Feinberg and Oscherowitz.
In 1882 Mr. Michael Schiml opened a shop for the distribution of flour and feeds at the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Hickory street. This enterprise was preparatory to his dream of eventually operating an ale brewery. He made a most modest start in this new venture but t soon found it necessary to acquire additional capital. This made necessary the formation of a partnership with the two brothers Bucher, cigar manufacturers, who were also brothers-in-law to Mr. Schiml. Under the new organization they operated under the trade name of Schiml and Bucher. They were modestly successful for a number of years under the various firm names of The Wayne avenue Brewery,-Schiml & Bucher,-and finally the Pioneer Brewery.
The site is now known as 735 Wayne avenue and extends from the property line of the building housing the feed company, to and including the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Hickory street. It now houses the sales and service division of the International Harvester Company line of commercial and industrial trucks. This building is a substantial addition to the neighborhood to which it adds prestige.
HICKORY STREET TO BRABHAM STREET.
Number 801 Wayne avenue has an 1882 record showing that at that time the site was tenanted by one Henry Ferneding who operated a grocery at this site. Shortly thereafter Mr. Thomas Watson opened a jewelry store. He was known throughout the years as one of Dayton’s leading watch and clock repairmen and he enjoyed a long business career remaining in this one location for nearly a life time. He carried a fine line of merchandise and in a small way he operated as a manufacturing jeweler. The old site of Thomas Watson, jeweler, is now occupied by J. I Cross, upholsterer.
The adjoining building now known as number 807 Wayne avenue is a store front added to the original building. The old brick residence building was the home of the Moorman family they occupying this residence for a decade of years. The improved store in the front of the building has been occupied for a number of years by one Joseph Balshone who operates a home bakery.
The brick residence known as number 819 Wayne avenue was for a period of thirty years or more the residence of Miss Emma Kette, member of an old and socially prominent family.
The old brick business building known as numbers 823 and 825 Wayne avenue has long been a landmark and it too has been the business site of a long list of merchants and tradesmen. The north west corner of Wayne avenue and Brabham street is numbered 825 Wayne avenue and has been used for a number of years as a sales outlet for Velvet Ice Cream. Previous occupants of these two store rooms are listed, among others, one Anthony Hauttman and later John B. Geisler both of whom, at different times conducted a saloon and a grocery at this site.
BRABHAM STREET TO ADAMS STREET.
Number 901 Wayne a venue is an old structure that has recently had its face lifted. For a generation or more it housed the office and residence of Dr. Krehbiel who also conducted an apothecary shop in this building. In recent years this modernized room located at the south west corner of Wayne avenue and Brabham street has been occupied by the Strunk Furniture and Upholstering Company.
Number 905 Wayne avenue for a generation housed the Dr. Krehbiel family however quite recently part of the residence was converted to house the Krehbiel Drug Store which was moved from number 901 Wayne avenue. This shop is now operated under the trade name of Jordan’s Drug Store.
The building and store room known as number 911 Wayne avenue housed the home bakery of Mr. Fred Lang who opened his first shop at number 729 Wayne avenue. Mr. Lang’s bakery was favorably known for it quality products and he occupied this site until his retirement. The store room has been renovated and modernized and for the past several years it has housed the activities of the S. E. Masters Electrical Company.
ADAMS STREET TO JOHNSTON STREET
This area was largely a residential district. Thus the store room now known as number 1013 and 1015 Wayne avenue was until the first world war a cottage serving as a residence. This building was renovated and a front added and today it is occupied by The R. & L. Restaurant and Bar. Number 1023 was for some years the residence of Dr. G. Gohn.
JOHSTON STREET TO CLOVER STREET
This area also was largely a residential site excepting for the north west corner of Johnston and Wayne avenue and known as number 1101 Wayne avenue. It is now a paint store conducted by Mrs. Ella J. Miller. This store site was occupied in the eighties by Mr. William Oehlman who for many years conducted a successful Dry Goods store at this location. Business grew to the point where expansion became necessary and since it was impossible at this corner he determined to enter the larger field of down town competition. He secured quarters in the Kuhns Building at the north west corner of Main and Fourth streets. His business flourished for many years and assumed its rightful place in successful merchandizing circles.
The site originally known as number 1129 Wayne avenue was located at the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Clover street. It was an old brick building which in its time housed a most varied occupancy which attests to the popularity of this site. We have records showing that Conrad Bickel operated here as a carpet weaver. Samuel Dickensheets conducted a provision and meat market and John Sullivan operated a confectionary store followed by Calvin R. Bentley who operated a grocery and meat market. Here Mr. Otto Wilke conducted a pretzel bakery and later included a line of cheese. A long time tenant was a Mr. Schiffler who handled flours and feeds. The last tenant of this old building was a Mr. Louis Graff who operated here for a number of years. It was at this site that he entered the hardware business and here he remained until the growth of his business made larger quarters necessary. When Mr. Graff vacated this building he moved his store to Wayne avenue and Johnston street, and the old building with so many memories was dismantled. On its site they build a modern gasolene station. The building of this service station was a fine investment insofar that the service station was moderately successful for a number of years after which the site was sold and the building diverted to more profitable use.
Returning to the location known as 1101 Wayne avenue at the corner of Wayne avenue and Johnston street. As previously stated Mr. William Oehlman moved his dry goods store to a down town location and for a number of years thereafter number 1101 Wayne avenue suffered a checkered career until the time when Mr. Graeff, seeking larger quarters for his hardware store leased the room. Mr. Graeff remained at this location for a period of years and his judgement in seeking this site was vindicated insofar that his business grew to such proportions that made larger quarters a necessity.
Under a reorganization plan his business assumed the trade name of The Graeff Hardware Company and his son Robert assumed executive duties. This firm then purchased the site known as 1125-1127 Wayne avenue and immediately erected a modern business building. As business progressed they purchased the corner site operated as a service station using this building as one of their ware houses and as an auxilliary salesroom for the more cumbersome sales items. During the past year expansion again became necessary and they erected a substantial concrete block addition to the rear of their store. Today, the Graeff Hardware Store is more than a hardware store- it is a general store supplying all of the neighborhood needs, carrying a most diversified line and it proves the contention that America still remains the land of golden opportunity.
We have known Mr. Louis Graeff for most of our adult life. We recall when he opened a modest little business in the south east section of the city which he disposed of when the income was insufficient to meet the demands of a growing family. He was unafraid and though approaching middle life he ventured into a business with which he had very little if any pervious example. Today the son Robert manages the Graeff Hardware Company and Mr. Louis Graeff is enjoying a merited rest and the firm has acquired commercial stature. It is men of foresight, ambition, energy and honesty, fearless men like Mr. Graeff who have made America great.
CLOVER STREET TO OAK STREET.
At the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Clover street, is the store room known as 1203 Wayne avenue. It is an old brick landmark, with residence attached and to the best of my knowledge it has always housed a grocery and meat market. There are records indicating occupancy at various times by Daniel Lorenz, Henry Lorenz and M. C. Lorenz. This site is now occupied by the grocery firm operating under the trade name of Roark & Wilson, grocers.
There is a record showing that number 1211 Wayne avenue at one time housed the office of Dr. C. W. Salisbury while number 1225 was the office of Dr. George E. Strahler.
The building known as 1233 and 1235 Wayne avenue had a varied occupancy. An old record shows that Leopold Billet conducted a boot and shoe store in this location. Incidentally, in this resume of business and business locations on Wayne avenue, it is interesting to find that this same Leopold Billet at various times occupied five or six different Wayne avenue sites. Number 1233 Wayne avenue was for a time a barber shop and beauty salon but it was later occupied as an office for a dry cleaning establishment. It is now occupied by The Kelly Press shop.
Number 1247 Wayne avenue at one time in the eighties housed a saloon operated by Charles Engel. Later Krehbiel Brothers conducted a drug store at this corner location. More recently it was taken over by a filling station now operated under the trade name of The Oak Service Station.
OAK STREET to PARK PLACE
The old frame building located at the south west corner of Wayne avenue and Oak street and known as 1303 and 1305 Wayne avenue was probably one of the most popular sites devoted to Wayne avenue business during the eighties and the nineties. To record all of the occupants of this location would be a nearly impossible task yet we recall that the room 1303 for many years housed a popular saloon operated by Jacob Wysong. He finally disposed of it to Mr. Henry Hessler and he too remaining a long time tenant. Later it became a Café and Restaurant operated by a Mr. and Mrs. Rotterman. In later years it was operated as a Café and Restaurant under the trade name of The Oak Café. Room 1305 now houses the dining room of the Café but in the earlier years of which we write it was rented as an individual business room. We recall that in its checkered career Phillip Deis conducted a meat market here in the early eighties and later one Dennis Murphy conducted a grocery at this site. Thereafter a Mr. John F. Oehlschlaeger operated here as a bottler of ales and beers.
The area next south to the alley which today is tenanted mostly by a service station was at one time the site of a small stone yard operated by one Daniel Renner. Thereafter, some time in the early thirties the site was purchased for the creation of The Wayne Avenue Presbyterian Church which served the community for a decade or more. The site was finally acquired by Mr. Ben Ziehler who dismantled the church, Thereafter creating a gasoline station, one of a chain, specializing in the sale of BENZOL gasoline under the trade name of the Producer’s Oil Company. After the death of Mr. Ziehler, the estate sold its many service stations. This Wayne avenue and Park Place service station is now operated under independent ownership.
The south western corner of Wayne avenue and Park Place is now a residence but early in the eighties it housed the carpenter shop of Harrison Vaughn who specialized in the manufacture and sale of automatic gates. Similarly we hold an old record showing that number 1421 housed the activities of C. Burger and Company, organ tuner with sales and service for organs.
This brings us to the north west corner of Wayne avenue and Wyoming street which property now houses a Café. Our earlier records disclose that the old residence on this lot, lately made into apartments, has for several generations served as a home, and that for quite a period of years it was owned and occupied by a Mrs. Leah Mann. In 1913 the property was purchased by John P. and Theresa L. Deis who, immediately after they took possession, erected a business room in the corner. The family of John P. Deis resided in the old residence for a period of twenty five years or more. The first occupant of the corner business room was the Kroger Grocery Company. When this lease expired the room was rented to Edward Focke who conducted a grocery and meat market. Later it was taken over by Mr. Clarence Kuhns who operated a Cafe. Today the Café is conducted by Wingerter and Wingerter under the firm name of The Sun Ray Cocktail Bar. Both the business room and the apartment are now the property of Mrs. Eleanore Deis Jones.
As a concluding paragraph I want to stress the fact that in the early days of which we write, the business section of Wayne avenue extended from Third street to Xenia avenue. In extending our memoirs to Wyoming street we did so, merely to give credit to those hardy pioneer business men who were not afraid to risk their precious capital in what at that time was considered beyond business limits or possibilities. Wayne avenue has changed immeasurably. As contained in the earlier pages, a goodly portion of Wayne avenue was devoted to various types of manufacture. With the exception of The Lowe Brothers Company and Gondert and Lienisch, the factories have disappeared, leaving in their wake a variety of factory and mill supply houses, tool supplies and factory representatives.
The extreme southern limits of Wayne avenue at the time of which we write was its junction with the Wilmington Pike. What we now know as East Wayne avenue, merging with Watervliet avenue was then the Shakertown road. Wayne avenue from Wyoming street south was merely a country road with potentialities; today, Wayne avenue is an improved highway extending south and then east for more than three miles beyond the original southern limit and ending at the Smithville road. This newer part of the avenue is a section of substantial homes interspersed with quality mercantile establishments in variety sufficient to adequately serve the neighborhood.
Some of Wayne Avenue’s older buildings are approaching the century mark and these in time will make way for modern structures. None of the old pioneers who helped to make Wayne avenue a business street are alive today but their spirit still lives on and their descendants may well be proud of the role their ancestors played in the development of the city they loved.
If Saturday night in “Dippy Hollow”, the popular name for the junction of Wayne avenue and Fifth street, seems a bit raucus it must be accepted as an indication of youthful exhuberance,- the old street is still young and we who saw Wayne avenue develop from a mud road, smile a bit and say: “WATCH IT GROW.”
DAYTON OHIO. FEBRUARY 1950 EDWARD P. DEIS.
We must apologize for an important omission. As near as we can ascertain the printing firm of O’Donnell Brothers whose plant was in the arcade room identified as number 308 Wayne avenue and now occupied by the Aberdeen Press, hold the record for long time tenancy on Wayne avenue they occupying this site uninterruptedly for a period of nearly half a century.