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Dayton, Ohio - An Intimate History
Chapter Nine





It is something to be thankful for that the F. F. D.’s could not all go into one chapter. The influence of Israel Ludlow and John Cleves Symmes, who were the first to stimulate western emigration in our direction, did not cease at their death. It was the current opinion among leading and thoughtful men in the East, particularly in New Jersey, that, if a young man desired to out into the world and try his fortunes, Dayton was the place to head for. The character of our citizenship had been fixed by such names as Van Cleve, Phillips, Schenck, Crane, Perrine, Conover, and it was most natural that it should continue in the same strain. The exodus from Kentucky was started by the Pattersons and continued by the Steeles, the Browns and others. The whole Gebhart clan came from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and everybody knows what they brought to Dayton.

It is pleasant to discover that most of the later F. F. D.’s marched right along in the paths market out by their fathers. Jefferson Patterson followed his father, Robert Patterson, in the Rubicon Farm home where he raised a family of eight children, carried on both mills, went to the Ohio Legislature and, into the fourth generation, served his city. The Phillips’ sons brought with them the culture of their ancestor, the first president of Princeton University, Jonathan Dickinson. The Steele sons, Dr. James and Robert W., carried on as loyal citizens as their father did before them.

John Van Cleve, eldest child of the marriage of Benjamin Van Cleve and Mary Whitten, was a remarkable man. His impress upon the lives of Daytonians was more vital even than that of his father, for he was a graduate of Oxford, a “born scholar,” inheriting not only his father’s love of books and learning but an extraordinary facility as well. At the university he not only had no trouble in keeping up with his class, it was the class who could not keep up with him. At sixteen he was teaching Latin and Greek and as for mathematics he wrote, “I consider Euclid the most pleasing study I ever undertook.” Robert Steele has left the record that John Van Cleve went through Colburn’s Intellectual Arithmetic” in one day, when it first came out to Ohio. Interested in agriculture, he introduced many improvements on his farm and his beautifully kept minutes of the Montgomery County Horticultural Society testify to his love for flowers. The elder Van Cleve’s methodical, industrious, and persevering habits were amplified in the son who fulfilled every expectation of his father.

John Van Cleve’s life in Dayton was a solid benefit in more ways than can be told. After leaving college he studied French and German, translating a number of plays and stories from both languages. Are we telling the story of a pedant who made the most of his learning that it might set him above his fellows? Read  Mary Steele’s beautiful tribute to the essential humanness of the man. He loved children and was a born teacher, he gathered the little folks around him and told them about flowers and stars and foreign countries. On free Saturdays he took them into the woods – long walks, full of interest in everything in nature. Women, whom the writer only knew when they had passed the Psalmist’s limit, used to be roused to an almost juvenile enthusiasm when telling of those walks with Mr. Van Cleve, and gave him credit for all they knew of poetry and flowers and books.

In  1851, in contradiction to the habit of business men of today. Mr. Van Cleve retired from active work and, like a European gentleman, began to live. Study, art and music and above all an absorbing devotion to all things that would benefit his native city, were the things that occupied Mr. Van Cleve’s Days. He was musician (organist at Christ Church), painter, botanist, civil engineer, engraver, geologist, collector of fossils and curios for the Dayton library and Museum, edited for a short time the “Dayton Journal,” a correspondent with scientists and noted men of the day. His complete herbarium  of plants indigenous to the Miami Valley as well as his collection of fossils have been lost sight of.

There is no need for the stately shaft of marble which, on the highest point of Woodland Cemetery, marks the resting place of John Van Cleve, for the whole cemetery is his monument. Two other cities in the United States had, at that time, beautifully laid out resting places for their dead. He determined that Dayton should be the third, which, under his expert and loving guidance, it became. It was he who selected the site, high above the roofs of the city. It was he who laid it out, ran the lovely curving roads, planted the trees, often with his own hands, set out dogwoods and redbuds, maples and beeches, kept the books, and exercised all the duties of superintendent, all entirely without compensation.

He found the levee an ugly shapeless hill which encircled the town to keep the encroaching waters of the river from our streets and headed a list of subscribers for the purpose of beautifying this parkway. With his own hands he put out saplings of elm, maple, and silver-leaf poplars; and a little girl who loved to work in the dirt, went with him and put down in his book the date at which each tree was planted. They call it Robert Boulevard now and forget, when they walk under that noble row of branching trees, who, it was that so long ago took the pains to make it the most beautiful walk in Dayton. With the vision of making our city like the elm-embowered towns of New England Van Cleve surrounded the courthouse with elms, and when they got to the age when the green limbs lifting to the sky framed the classes pillars in their foliage, an editor, who thought that to have trees in a city made it look countrified, kept at it in his paper until the elms fell victims to a municipal axe and are no more. Sad enough to forget such a man as Van Cleve, but to undo his work is worse.

Van Cleve’s official positions should be recorded but are not so interesting. He was one of the founders of the Dayton Library Association, promoter of many public benefits to add books to the library, he was city engineer and member of the volunteer fire brigade, he compiled a map of Dayton, helped edit the “Log Cabin” and wrote campaign songs for the Harrison rally in 1840; was an enthusiastic Whig and promoter, with James Turpin of the Whig Glee Club.

It would be pleasant for an historian to present a portrait of this man who did so much for Dayton, but there is no such thing in existence. Being somewhat over three hundred pounds in avoirdupois he was sensitive about it and never sat for his picture. It was said of him when he went sleigh-riding in one of the little compact cutters prevalent in that day there was no room for anyone else. The lack of his portrait is a profound loss. Also, it would be gratifying for an historian to record the names of Van Cleve’s descendants and to call attention to the benefits they were conferring upon the city for which their father did so much. There are no descendants, for John Van Cleve died unmarried. All there is of tangible memory we find in Mary Steele’s “Early Dayton,” a beautiful tribute from one who knew him well.*

Jogging up through the woods from Lebanon there came to Dayton, in 1831, a young man described by those who knew him at the beginning of his career as slim, pale-faced and light-haired. This is not at all as he appeared to us who knew him fifty years later, when he was plethoric, dignified and imposing – in fact General C. Schenck. At the time of which we write, he was on his way from the law office of Tom Corwin, “the wisest lawyer in Ohio,” where he had read law for a year and from whom he carried a letter of introduction to Judge Crane. Previous to his Lebanon experience, Schenck had graduated with high honors at Oxford and, previous to that, he had come west from New Jersey with the rest of the Schencks whose name was then legion and who settled, some in Franklin and some in Lebanon. Dayton, then the largest town north of Cincinnati, was an attraction partly social, from the prominent families there residing, and partly professionals from the prestige of the Judge Crane’s large practice.

In the saddle-bags of the traveler in search of his future was a sealed letter from the distinguished Mr. Corwin to Judge Crane, which the latter read, slowly raising his eyes from the paper to scan the features of the young man facing him. At the close, he immediately invited Robert Schenck to be his partner-in-law. The association thus formed lasted for many years and proved to be one of the most extensive and lucrative in the State.

The logical and original mind of the junior partner made its prompt impression upon the town and the State. In politics he was an ardent Whig and contributed both money and personal prestige to the election of William Henry Harrison. It is safe to say that not a public enterprise in Dayton but felt the impact of Robert Schenck’s personality. Intellectual and public-spirited, a lover of books and the fine things of life, he lent his influence to both civic and cultural enterprises in Dayton. The documents of the time show him to have been either a founder or promoter in the hydraulic enterprise, that great power source in our first manufacturing interests; in the turnpikes which reached out from Dayton like the spokes of a wheel and brought to us all we had from the outside world; and the railroads, when they came in, owed much of their impetus to his industry. The Mechanics Institute was his pet project, not only as manager but as actual lecturer. His free lectures – free on his part – were one of the sources of the finances which supported that institution. At the courthouse one evening, he aroused public opinion by his eloquence in favor of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad and headed the list of 


*  ”Early Dayton,” p. 79.


Stockholders himself. Together with John Van Cleve and others he fostered the necessities and beauties of Woodland Cemetery.

What more natural than his emergence from these merely local interests to outside and national affairs. In 1841 Robert Schenck was called to represent his district in the Ohio Legislature. In  1843 to do the same in Congress where he remained for eight years one of the foremost workers in his party. It was during these years, Judge Crane having died, that he associated himself in partnership with Wilbur Conover, a young lawyer and graduate of Oxford. Mr. Conover took charge of the large practice of the firm which became then on one of the commanding law firms in southern Ohio.

In 1851 Robert Schenck’s attributes of statesmanship were further called upon; he represented the United States as Ambassador to Brazil where he remained for six years and rendered important service. His letters to his law partner during these years are models of wit and brilliancy, as well worth reading now as when they were penned more than seventy-five years ago. Returning to Dayton he entered into the Lincoln-Douglas campaign and was said by Lincoln himself to be the first one who ever spoke of him for the Presidency.

In 1861 came the outburst of the Civil War when Schenck made a prompt offer of his services to the government; they were accepted and rewarded with a commission as brigadier-general. That he was not a mere carpet-knight was shown by the fact that the disastrous battle of Bull Run he was commended for “gallantry in action and coolness and discretion in retreat.” Two more advances in rank made him first major-general (when no longer fit for active service), then commander of the Middle District.

However, not only his military services which were great, but his statesmanship was what endeared General Schenck to his party and his country. Elected again to Congress in 1863 he resigned his commission in the army to take his place again among the law-makers of the Nation. Mary Steele, in her “Early Dayton,” says that “a history of the career of Robert C Schenck in the thirty-ninth and fortieth congresses would be a complete history of the military legislation of the United States through the most eventual war to its close.” He had not a mere academic view of military methods and principles but a grasp born of actual personal participation in the great war.

Upon the accession of General Grant to the Presidency, one of his first acts was to appoint Robert Schenck as Ambassador from the United States to the Court of St. James. In England the recognition of his mental stamina and personal prestige won him many friends, and throughout the six years of his residence in London, he and his three daughters maintained a hospitality open alike to their own countrymen and foreigners of position and power.

Robert Schenck will be chiefly remembered in Europe as well as at home for his efforts in bringing about a peaceful settlement of the problems confronting the Joint High Commission at the Geneva Conference of which he was a member. The closing years of his life were passed in Washington but he was held by Daytonians to be one of their number – our most distinguished citizen, the crowning achievement of whose life was that he used his best talents in the service of his city, his State and the Nation, putting public interests always before his own. He was buried from Christ Church and carried out to the Woodland Cemetery which he had so loved.

There was another member of the Schenck family, Admiral James F. Schenck, who began life as a midshipman in 1825, and ended as an admiral. Between these two phases in his life, the beginning and the end, came almost as many distinguished adventures and services as in those of his cousin, the general. He enlisted in the navy in 1825, became a citizen of Dayton in 1836, went on frequent long cruises, rising meanwhile rapidly from rang to rank, visited the West indies, Japan, the Mediterranean, Africa, China, Brazil, all in years crowed with active service and rich experiences. Throughout all his naval record was a fine one. As captain of the “Congress,” in 1845, he served in the Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara and the San Pedro battles; he participated in the capture of Guyamos and Mazatlan in Mexico. In 1862 we find him in command of the frigate “St. Lawrence,” and joining the blockading squadron at Key West. In 1864, as commander of the “Powhatan,” he led a division of the squadron at the bombardment of Fort Fisher.

Upon his retirement from the navy, in 1869, and after his appointment as rear-admiral, Admiral Schenck came to Dayton as the pleasantest place among the pleasantest people he could find, to end his days. There, in his home on the northwest corner of First and Wilkinson streets, he and his daughters lived and entertained their friends. The entertainment consisted not only of a famous punch brewed in the big Canton bowl known and revered by Dayton housekeepers of the old school, but by the stories told by the admiral from out his long life on the sea and in foreign lands. He was a racy teller of racy anecdotes such as are not only personal recollection of the admiral was of passing, as a schoolgirl, his side gate on Wilkinson Street and seeing him sitting in the white duck and a naval cap with gold lace, a costume effectively novel to us inland Daytonians. He died in 1882.

James Steele (treated in a former chapter) married Phoebe, daughter of Isaac Peirce, an officer of the Revolutionary Army, and thus allied himself with another First Family of Dayton. He died in 1841 and left two sons, Dr. James Steele who practiced medicine for years on the corner of Third and Ludlow, and Robert Steele for whom not a chapter but a whole volume would be necessary to chronicle his services to his native town. The merest list of his interests and activities will tell the story of loyal devotion to Dayton hardly equaled either then or now. He was founder and director of the Dayton Library Association, member, for thirty-three years of the Board of Education, trustee of Miami University, one of the incorporators of Cooper Seminary, president of the Woodland Cemetery Association, member of the Ohio Board of Charities, trustee of the Montgomery Children’s Home, elder in the Third Street Presbyterian Church, stockholder and promoter of nearly all the railroads entering Dayton, member and president of the Montgomery County Horticultural Society; during the Civil War on the Sanitary Commission and interested himself actively in the families of enlisted soldiers. A lover of books and trees and flowers, it was he whom that earlier lover of books and trees and lowers, John Van Cleve, called to his bedside in the Phillips House and passed on to the younger man, as a sacred legacy, the promotion of these things in Dayton. And they say that not long before Robert Steele passed away himself, he stood on the corner of his home at First and Ludlow and exclaiming how beautiful Dayton was, wished that he might come back from death in future years to see it grow more beautiful.

It is both necessary and seemly that such unsalaried public service should be kept in the minds of Dayton citizens by the building which rears its head at the end of Main Street – Steele High School. The six children of Robert Steele have long since passed away. Two grandsons, each bearing the honored name, survive, Robert Steele, of Berkeley, California, and Robert Steele, of Rocky Ford, Colorado.

It was Robert Steele who said of Henry L. Brown that he was “one of the best and most useful men who ever lived in Dayton,” which is warrant, if it were needed, for putting the Browns among the first families of Dayton. It will be remembered that the first Henry Brown served in the War of 1812, married the brilliant Kitty Patterson and lived in the first brick house ever built in Dayton. Henry Brown 2nd, lived on Ludlow Street in a large house with a large family, a large relationship and a large interest in everything pertaining to Dayton.

Those who have a personal recollection of Henry L. Brown, count it a pleasure to remember him, for he was always glad to see you. His hand grip was one of real friendship. Blue eyes, a strip of sandy hair, a slight limp from a hurt in his youth, a linen coat and his genuine cordiality made Mr. Brown a figure one did not soon forget. His real business ability had built up a flourishing stove foundry as the foot of Ludlow Street and a stove store on Main Street. But commercial affairs were not the chief end of living for Henry Brown. Like his friend Robert Steele, he busied himself about the educational interests of Dayton, was president of the School Board for twenty-five years and all that time not a week passed but a part of it was given to the schools. He was especially active in investigating the claims of applicants for teacher positions. His knowledge of business made him valuable when there were new buildings to be erected.

Another, perhaps the first of his dear interests was the First Presbyterian Church. For a whole long lifetime he was a pillar and a prop in all recorded ways. At one time he was superintendent of the Sunday school, at another, the teacher of a vigorous class of young men and women in the study of the Bible. During the cholera epidemic Mr. Brown was as much a hero as if he had striven on the field of battle, though he would have been the last to suspect or acknowledge it. Right into infected houses he went with food and medicine and prayers. All through that terrific summer of 1840, with the mercury at nearly a hundred, he plodded on his self-imposed errands of mercy with no thought of his own safety.

My own remembrance of Henry L. Brown was merely that of a pupil in his class and of the entertaining parties which he gave from time to time in his home – candy-pulling parties which he gave from time to time in his home – candy-pullings in winter, watermelon parties in summer, and picnics in between. He married Sarah Belle Browning and had nine children of whom none are now living.

A repulsive “bus station” painted hideously, mars the one-time beauty and dignity of Second Street west of Ludlow. No modern Daytonian could imagine it the stately home of Miss Maratha Perrine, the last of the family of that name  She had in her possession an old account book with this record: “My wife and I began housekeeping on Sunday morning, July 17, 1831.” It was signed by James Perrine. The bride was Julia Darst. The Perrines were of French descent and came to America some time after the Revolution of the Edict of Nantes in 1686. The family scattered as was usual in immigrating families and a part of them found their way to Middlesex County, New Jersey, near Freehold. In this town there is still a pew in the old church marked “Perrine” with a date early in the last century. It was the same neighborhood from which came the Schencks, the Huffmans, the Conovers, the Woodhulls and the Cranes.

John Perrine was the ancestor who came west, and his four sons were James, Henry, Johnson and Garrett. The latter moved to New Carlisle, but the other three identified themselves with Dayton and became F. F. D.’s. The first business venture was a store on the corner of Second and Jefferson, it was known as Perrine, Lytle and Shaw and maintained for many years the leading trade in dry goods in Dayton. The Perrines had daughters, Sarah, Mary, Martha, Julia, and Louise. Mary became Mrs. George Shaw. Louis married Edward Barney.

James Perrine died January 22, 1864, and as a mark of respect to a man whose name had stood for strict integrity, every business house in Dayton was closed when they carried him out to Woodland. He had established high standards and served his city. Besides his business interests James Perrine was connected with several public enterprises, as president of the Dayton Bank, trustee of Woodland Cemetery and director of the first life insurance company of Dayton.

The brothers of James Perrine, Johnson and Henry, never married and survived him for many years. Henry Perrine had a retail dry goods store on Main Street in the Phillips Block (Mutual Home Building) for many years. Both brothers were socially popular and made large fortunes. Survivors of the first Perrine, children and grandchildren and living in Dayton are; Mrs. E. E. Barney, Mrs. John Bradley Greene, Julia McCoy, Mrs. H. G. Carnell, and Mrs. Harry Munger.

No man’s life, belonging to the plain and sturdy class of pioneers, ever deserved recording more than Thomas Brown. He was another of the New Jersey emigrants to the west, this time from Monmouth County. He was born in the first year of the century and died in Dayton in 1894. At the age of twenty and starting from his New Jersey home Thomas Brown took a walk. He had a friend with him and they hoped to occasionally get a ride in some of the wagons that were continually on the road to Ohio. But luck did not come their way and it had to be done by sheer pluck. On and on they kept until they reached the village of Lebanon. From  there to Xenia and from there to Dayton where the Odyssey ended. Immediately he began to be a good citizen and a leading one. He founded the  S. N. Brown corporation of which he was president but he was much more than a mere business man. He was at several times a member of the State Legislature, director of the State prison at Columbus, member of the first school board organized in Dayton and one of the lessees of the public works under the law of 1861. A devout member of Grace Methodist Church Thomas Brown led an upright life and a long one. On one of the pages of his diary are still to be found these words: “That man is rich who has a good disposition, who is naturally kind, patient, and cheerful and has a flavor of wit in his composition” Which description accurately fitted the man who wrote it.

There were two sons, Samuel and Charles, and two daughters, Ellen and Caroline, all now deceased. S. N. Brown carried on the business, and all forwarded as best they might the fine ideals of their father.

When a man begins his career by earning ten cents a day and ends with hundreds of thousands of dollars it makes an interesting story. In 1825, Valentine Winters worked in a brickyard in Germantown at the above mentioned salary; in 1870, he was giving birthday dinners with a check for ten thousand dollars under each plate around the table where his sons and daughters had gathered to do him honor. His first earnings in Dayton amounted to fifty dollars a year, but five years later he was establishing the Winters National Bank, and the present Winters National is the fruit of the seed he sowed in 1830. All the banking interests during that hundred years centered around the name of Winters.

Banking is in itself a science and rarely leaves room for activities of other natures, but Mr. Winters was an organizer of railroads and insurance companies and promoter of both in Dayton. It is told of him that he went into debt for his wedding suit and at the end of the year had paid for it and deposited thirty-eight dollars in the bank to his credit. He was an indefatigable worker and so was his wife. Both were up early in the morning making every hour do its sixty minutes worth of work, keeping the out-go always inside of the income, he busy with ledgers and she with household affairs until, long before their golden wedding day, they landed in the big house on West Third Street where most of us still remember them but which has long since gone the way of too big, too old mansions and will never be seen again.

During the Civil War, Valentine Winters loaned money to the government and gave it to support the families of soldiers at the front. He held his wealth as a stewardship and gave to any demand, either private or public, that came his way. This is the record of a rich man but rich not only in money but in friends, health, family, reputation and public confidence. The golden wedding of Valentine Winters and Catherine Harshman was celebrated by them and their eleven children in 1879. Among the descendants of the name in Dayton are V. Winters, R. R. Dickey, Mrs. Harry Loy, Clara Winters, Mrs. Louella Winters Thomas, Mrs. Harry Loy, Mrs. J. E. Bimm, Dr. Charles McGregor, Harriet Winters Gebhart, and Jonathan H. Winters.

One of the most versatile men that ever came to Dayton was a school teacher by the name of Eliam E. Barney. Just graduated from Union College he was attracted, as so many were, by the cultural demands of this small city and longed to do his share. This share was first the principalship of the old academy on the corner of Fourth and Wilkinson, and later when Cooper had given the ground for a girls’ school and the citizens had subscribed the money to build Cooper Seminary, Mr. Barney was unanimously elected to be the head of that institution. One of his pupils said of his work, “He made everything so interesting one could not help learning.” . . . a born and inspired teacher. He began with nine pupils and ended with eighty-five.

Nothing seems to be so far from teaching as manufacturing, but after a couple of decades of this work. Mr. Barney saw the demand for railroad cars and built up the Barney and Smith car works, for years the leading industry of Dayton. Manufacturing is a long way from foreign missions, but being a fervent Baptist Mr. Barney gave of his time and money to forward the work of the Gospel in other lands. One of the founders of Denison university, he transferred to it the fervor for learning that he wielded at Cooper Seminary and built it up with money all his life. He was a passionate arboriculturist and his cultivation of the catalpa tree and the introduction of it for commercial purposes was a real contribution. The Young Men’s Christian Association felt his helping hand and soul. The Cooper Hydraulic Company was conducted under his efficient presidency as was also the Second National Bank. Among his descendants now living in Dayton are: J. D. Platt and family, Mrs. Bertha Platt Thacker, and Miss Julia McCoy.

A sewer system is not a sentimental monument to a man’s memory but there could hardly be a more practical one. When a city has outgrown itself and wastage becomes a menace, when city funds are low and anciently-minded members of the city council think that what was good enough for their fathers is good enough for them, then is the time for a prophet to arise that has a vision and knows how to externalize it. Such a man was William Huffman. There were two F. F. D.’s under his name. William,  the father, who came from New Jersey in 1812, and William P. who was born in 1813. William the first established a store on the corner of Jefferson and First, since occupied by the Beckel House. They say the first meeting to form the Baptist Church was held on his porch. He had four daughters one of whom married into the Winters family and one into the Harries family. The children of William P. Huffman were: William, Charles, Samuel (died an infant); Frank T., George P., Lizzie (Mrs. Drury); Mrs. E. J. Barney, Mrs. James R. Hedges, and Anna M.

In 1889 there was a bill passed authoring the probate judge (then Judge McKemy) to appoint three commissioners for the city of Dayton. They were William Huffman, Galen C. Wise and Dr. Hooven. It was William Huffman’s work on this commission that makes citizens who know of it now raise their hats in his Honor. The sewers and street paving he was determined to have, and against untold odds, of private opinion and newspaper opposition, he carried the day and Dayton was delivered from the threat to public health and the misery of mud and dust. William P. Huffman lived for a time some miles east of town where he owned a large tract of land afterwards known as Huffman’s Prairie. It was upon this level land that the Wright brothers made their first experiments in aviation. Later, Mr. Huffman moved to Dayton and built a fine residence on Huffman Hill where he lived for many years and brought up a family of ten children. He married Anna M. Tate. The living descendants of the original William Huffman living in Dayton are: Charles H. Simms, Colonel Frank T. Huffman, Mrs. Evelyn H. Patterson; Susannah, Geraldine, Charlotte, and William P., the children of Torrence and Annie B. Huffman; and George P. Huffman.

It is difficult to imagine what the commercial side of Dayton would have been without the Gebharts. Sturdy, honest, thrifty and efficient they were: Frederick, the head of the clan, and his brothers, George and Herman, who came to Dayton in 1838. On Third Street west of Main he built a three-story building and established a general store. Seven children he brought with him and two more were born in Dayton. They were Alexander, John, Josiah; the daughters who were Mrs. Joseph Newcomer, Mrs. Isaac Haas, Mrs. H. L. Pope, and Mrs. Cahill; and the Dayton group, Walter and Annie. In a room in his Third Street store, Frederick Gebhart gathered a group of men who were the founders of the Lutheran Church. His two contributions to Dayton were business organizations and church organization. Both prospered. The hydraulic in its progress through the middle of town turned more wheels for the Gebharts than for any other firms. Flour mills (Simon Gebhart and Sons, East Third, 600 barrels a day); Cornice Works (W. F. Gebhart); the Gebhart White Lead Works: Gebhart Pope and Company, Linseed Oil. These were the sons and the grandsons of the Gebhart who first came from Pennsylvania. Gebhart descendants at the present time are Mrs. Harry Turpin, Mrs. Kate Mathiot, Mrs. O. B. Brown, Mrs. Kate Haas Kennedy, Alexander Reed and family, Mrs. Isabel Reed Edgar and family, Dorothy Gebhart Carl, Miriam Mathiot Brown, Mrs. Annie Gebhart Norwood, Harry Gebhart and family, Mrs. Grace Gebhart Kinnard, and Mrs. Joseph Turpin.

In the ‘seventies and ‘eighties, the square on East First Street between Main and Jefferson was mostly in the possession of the Harries family whose “emigrant ancestor,” as the genealogists call it, was John W. Harries from Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, South Wales. He came to America in the early ‘thirties and to Dayton not much later, bought a lot in the locality mentioned and lived there all his life. A brewer by profession he established a brewery on Jefferson Street north of First where he manufactured an excellent quality of real old English ale. The refuse from the brewery ran into the deep gutters where the cows going to or coming back from the pastures across the river were said to imbibe too freely and get fancy on their owner’s hands. Back of the brewery was a shed said to have been constructed out of the timbers of the pirogue in which the first settlers came up the river to Dayton.

Mr. Harries celebrated Christmas after the wholesale English custom, with a barrel of cider and a washboiler full of doughnuts to his employees and a table set with forty-two places for the family near and far. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren sat down to roast beef, suckling pig, roast ducks, and a dainty known as Welsh potpie.

The last member of the original family was Mrs. Rosetta Harries Gorman of beloved memory, who died not many years since and left the town poorer for want of her. For many years she lived in the home her father had built. It had been many times rebuilt, but the stairway which as a girl bride she had descended to meet her lover had remained the same through four generations. In the Charles Harries family, who lived on the opposite of First Street, there were seven children. They were John, Carrie (Mrs. Houston Lowe); Ella (Mrs. Harry Lowe); Charles, Harry, and Emma (Mrs. Ernest Jackson). Nothing went on in Dayton that did not have a Harries in it, of one age or another. The parties they gave and the parties they went to could not be chronicled in one chapter. The secret of it was they were individually handsome, and collectively a most attractive family, possessing much of what the French call “allure.” The Harries house was the rendezvous of the gayest set in Dayton during three decades.

Owners of the same still living in Dayton are: G. Harries Gorman, E. J. B. Gorman, Mrs. Ernest Jackson, Harry Harries, Charles H. Simms, John G. Lowe, Mrs. Robert Dunn Patterson, and Mrs. Caroline Patterson Bush.

In this same locality of Dayton, on the northwest corner of First and Jefferson, lived the Walters family, whose ancestors go back six generations to an Ephraim Walters who was murdered by the Indians in his Pennsylvania home, and his wife and children carried into captivity. A son, Ephraim Walters, having escaped and grown up, was a captain in the Revolutionary War. His son was the father of Dr. J. A. Walters, a graduate of Jefferson College and well known for many years in Dayton. He lived at first in the corner house but later built one in the next lot; he married Lucetta Brooks and their children were James and Mary. For many years Dr. Walters engaged in the drug business and was all his life a member of and contributor to the Third Street Presbyterian Church. He died in 1898, greatly mourned by the community. His son married Welthy Sheets and his daughter married Morris Woodhull. James Walters had two children, Jefferson and Edith. Edith became Mrs. George D. Harper of Cincinnati. Jefferson is known in musical circles as a beautiful musician on the violin and a composer as well. He will have further notice in a subsequent chapter. Mrs. Morris Woodhull is the only surviving child of Dr. James A. Walters, and lives in her beautiful home in Oakwood where her friends are always happy to find her.

This does not by any means include all the F. F. D.’s who have graced Dayton but it does include the most prominent who came here as early as the ‘thirties. To go on through the later years of the last century would be to made a whole directory, so many have there been of the sons and daughters of Dayton, who have worked to build up her business and social life, her factories, churches, and her place on the map of the United States.


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