Header Graphic
Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and of Montgomery County, Ohio
Pages 418-438 Captain Newton R. Bunker to John Collins

CAPT. NEWTON R. BUNKER, [pages 418-422] the well-known grocer of No. 451 North Main street, Dayton, Ohio, was born in Hollidaysburg, Blair county, Pa., February 25, 1843, and is a son of Isaiah and Isabella (Maize) Bunker.  His paternal grandfather was a native of Wales and his grandmother a native of Scotland, and both came to America prior to the war of the Revolution.

Isaiah Bunker was a native of Delaware and a blacksmith by trade, was a soldier in the war for the preservation of  the Union, and died in Milwaukee, Wis., in October, 1884; his wife, Isabella (Maize) Bunker, .was born in Huntingdon county, Pa., and died in Altoona, Pa., January 8, 1853. To these parents were born six children: William B., the eldest, was formerly a general merchant, served nine months in the Union army, is now a traveling salesman, and resides in Philadelphia; Capt. N. R. is the second-born; Henry L. served three years with the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, and died in January, 1897; Benjamin M. is a contractor and builder in Altoona, Pa.; Julia and Isabella died in infancy.

Newton R. Bunker lived in his native town until 1857, when he went to Philadelphia and became an apprentice to a blacksmith. While thus employed he enlisted, December 17, l861, in company D, Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, and had been but two weeks in the service when he was promoted sergeant. He was first sent to Camp Roxboro and then to Camp Curtin for drill and equipment, remained in Philadelphia until March, 1862, and then went to Fortress Monroe, under command of Gen. Wool.  His first war experience was in the capture of Norfolk, Va., then, in the fall of 1862, New Berne, where he was on outpost duty for about nine months; next, for a year, was at Little Washington, N.C., where he fought guerrillas and other rebel soldiers who were endeavoring to recruit for the Confederate army. In the winter of 1863-64 the regiment veteranized, and an effort was made to hold it in continuous service; but it was finally decided that the enlistment would be void unless its terms were fully concurred in. This included a thirty-days' furlough, but this was not granted until nearly six months later, when the veterans were allowed to leave the  trenches in front of Petersburg and to return home in July for the stipulated term of thirty days. In the meantime, however, after veteranizing, the regiment had been ordered back from North Carolina to Virginia in the spring of 1864, and placed under the command of Ger;. Butler at Bermuda Hundred; it took part in various battles in the vicinity of Petersburg and Richmond, and in June, 1864, joined the army of the Potomac, and for fourteen days was engaged at Cold Harbor.  It was then at Petersburg until July, 1864, when it was ordered on furlough by the secretary of war.

Returning from furlough, the regiment joined the army of the James, but Sergeant Bunker, who had been detailed on recruiting service, did not rejoin his regiment until October, 1864, when he found his command at Chapin's farm, or Deep Bottom. Although ranking as sergeant, he had been placed in command of his company at the battle of Cold Harbor (June, 1864), and held command until his final muster-out—being commissioned first lieutenant December 24, 1864, and captain January 24, 1865. His regiment formed a part of the first brigade to enter Richmond (April 3, 1865), and for the five months following lay at Manchester, on the opposite side of the James river. It was then transferred to Staunton, Va., and apportioned among fourteen counties, for the purpose of relieving troops in various localities. Capt. Bunker was placed in charge in Rockbridge county, with headquarters at Lexington, and then in Fluvanna county, with headquarters at Columbia, being chiefly connected with the Freedmen's bureau, or provost duty. He was finally mustered out at City Point, Va., January 24, 1866, having served at the front four years and six weeks, when he returned to Philadelphia, and thence came to Dayton, Ohio, March 1, 1866. Here he worked at his trade until 1893, when failing health warned him that the time had come when he must relinquish mechanical pursuits. He rested nearly three years, and then, in April, 1896, engaged in his present business, and now owns one of the leading grocery stores in Riverdale.

The marriage of Capt. Bunker took place in Dayton, May 12, 1870, to Miss Laura Wollaston, a native of this city and a daughter of Jeremiah Wollaston, who was also born in Dayton. To the captain and his wife has been born one daughter—Estelle—who is a teacher of music and has her home with her parents. The family are all members of the First Baptist church of Dayton and enjoy the esteem of a large circle of devoted friends.

Capt. Bunker is prominent as a Grand Army man and has been senior vice-commander of Old Guard post, No. 23. July 4, 1867, he became a member of Wayne lodge, I. 0. 0. F., a year later became a member of the encampment, and has passed all the chairs in both branches of this order. In politics he is an uncompromising republican and cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864. In every position in life that the captain has held he has performed his duty with unswerving faithfulness, and well deserves the high respect in which he is universally held.


FRANK J. BURKHARDT, [pages 422-423] secretary of the Burkhardt Furniture company of Dayton, Ohio, was born in this city April 1, 1860, a son of Frank Joseph and Gertrude Burkhardt, natives of Gissigheim, Germany, who both came to America shortly before 1850, and were married in Dayton, February 2, 1857.

F. J. Burkhardt, the father of Frank J., was an orphan and was bound as an apprentice to the cabinetmaking trade in his native land. On arriving in Dayton he was first employed by a Mr. Doup, a sash and blind manufacturer, and later by Beaver & Butt, remaining with the latter for some thirty years as foreman of the sash-making department, and while in this employment his death took place May 5, 1883. He was a quiet, unassuming man, and a devout member of Emanuel Catholic church. To him and his wife were born five children, viz: Mary H., wife of Charles E. Rotterman, of Dayton; Frank J.; Theresa, who died at two years of age; Louisa M., now residing with her mother; and Richard Vincent, president of the Burkhardt Furniture company.

Frank J. Burkhardt, after having received a good common-school education, at the age of fourteen years entered the employ of the Barney & Smith Car company, in whose shops he worked for fourteen years as cabinet-maker; he was next employed for upward of four years by John Stengel & Co., furniture manufacturers, when the Burkhardt Furniture Manufacturing company was formed, of which he was one of the incorporators. In politics Mr. Burkhardt is a democrat, and for one year served as assistant deputy recorder of Montgomery county. Fraternally, he is a Knight of Saint John. He was married May 9, 1886, to Miss Emma J. Hochwalt, daughter of George Hochwalt, of Dayton, and to this union have been born two children: Clarence E. and Marguerite.  The family are members of the Emanuel Catholic church, and have their home at No. 703 South Ludlow street.

Richard V. Burkhardt was born in Dayton April 5, 1868, was educated in the Emanuel parochial school and at Saint Mary's institute, and then, at the age of fifteen years, was employed by Stengel & Co. as packer; he was then made shipping clerk and later promoted to be bookkeeper, and finally, when about nineteen years old, was employed as traveling salesman. After having served this company for about ten years he resigned to become an incorporator of the Burkhardt Furniture company, of which he is the president and also traveling salesman. He is still unmarried. Fraternally Mr. Burkhardt is a member of the Independent Order of Foresters, the American Sons of Columbus, the Catholic Gesellen Verein, the Dayton Gymnastic club, and of the Saint Joseph's Orphan society. In religion he is a Roman Catholic.

The Burkhardt Furniture company, at Nos. 415 to 423 East First street, Dayton, was incorporated March 13, 1893, by R. P. Burkhardt, Sr., F. J. Burkhardt, R. P. Burkhardt, Henry Hambrecht and Aug. Zwiesler, and, with the exception of R. P. Burkhardt, who withdrew soon after the incorporation, these gentlemen still constitute the company. The present officers are R. V. Burkhardt, president and treasurer; H. Hambrecht, vice-president; F. J. Burkhardt, secretary, and Aug. Zwiesler, superintendent. The capital stock of the company is $50,000, and employment is given to over thirty men.  Its output is distributed throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana and New York and the East generally. The company makes a specialty of parlor and library tables, and its members are all practical mechanics and furniture men.  Although the concern was established at the time when business in general was at almost a standstill, it has prospered wonderfully and is now one of the strongest in its line in the state of Ohio, and this result is owing to the practical ability, skill and sound business tact and integrity of its individual members.


RIGNAL R. BUTT, [pages 423-424] prominent as a contractor and builder, of the city of Dayton, and a son of John W. and Lydia Ann ( Carlisle) Butt, was born in Dayton, Ohio, September 3, 1848. His father was a native of Virginia and his mother of Maryland. They were the parents of five children—three of whom are still living, as follows: Volney H., Rignal R. and Hettie K., the wife of John Hacking.

John W. Butt was about nine years of age when brought to Dayton by his parents. Here he was educated, grew to manhood and learned his trade, that of a carpenter and contractor. Here he became a most useful and well-known citizen, and was honored by election to the city council, as a member of which he served several terms. He was also a member of the board of trustees of the water works for several years, holding this office at the time of his death.   His wife died April 24, 1855, when she was but thirty-two years old, and for his second wife he married Mrs. Kittie Ann Fair, widow of John F. Fair. By this second marriage he had two children, viz: Lydia, the wife of Charles W. Gillis, and Walter L.  Mrs. Fair by her first marriage had two children, Charles B., and Kittie V., the wife of Albert Smith.

Rignal Butt, the paternal grandfather of Rignal R., located in Dayton about 1830. He lived in Dayton until near the close of his life, his death occurring in Indiana while he was on a visit to that state. The maternal grandfather was a native of Maryland, descended from Scotch ancestry, and located in Dayton in the early days, dying there in 1873 when upward of eighty years of age, a well-known and highly respected citizen.

Rignal R. Butt was reared and educated in Dayton, and when about fifteen years of age began to learn the carpenter's trade.  He remained at home until he was twenty years old and followed his trade until 1872, when he began taking contracts on his own account. Many of the substantial residences and other buildings in Dayton were erected by him. In his business he has been unusually successful, and he maintains an excellent standing in the business community. On the 14th of November, 1871, he was married to Miss Matilda Ray, a daughter of John Ray. By this marriage he had two children, viz: Lydia A. and Glenna, the latter dying in infancy. Lydia A. married John Utzinger, of Dayton. The mother of these children died in 1881, an excellent woman and a member of the Catholic church. Mr. Butt married for his second wife Mrs. Emma E. Deubner, the marriage taking place July 21, 1883. She was the daughter of John C. and Catherine (Zerbe) Deubner, the former of Germany, the latter of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Butt, by her first husband, Albert Patton, had one daughter. Birdie, who is now the wife of Charles Osgood. Mr. and Mrs. Osgood have one son, named Bail.   Mrs. Butt is a member of the United Brethren church.  Mr. Butt is a member of Dayton lodge, No. 273, I. 0. 0. F., of Dayton, and is a member of the order of Daughters of Rebekah, as is also his wife. Politically he is a republican, but cares nothing for office. Mr. Butt is one of the substantial and highly esteemed citizens of Dayton and a useful member of the community.


A. M. HASSLER, [pages 424-425] clerk of the courts of Montgomery county, and a representative citizen of Dayton, was born on December 6, 1841, in St. Thomas, Franklin county, Pa. The boyhood days of Mr. Hassler were spent in Mercersburg, Franklin county. Pa., where he attended the common schools. While yet a boy he entered a general store in Mercersburg as a clerk, and in this and similar establishments in Chambersburg and Carlisle he was employed until 1861, when he returned to St. Thomas and there enlisted in the Thirty-fifth Pennsylvania regiment, known as the Sixth Pennsylvania reserve volunteer corps.  He served gallantly in the ranks, and at Fredericksburg was recommended for promotion and commissioned to a second-lieutenancy in recognition of his services. But this promotion he declined, preferring to serve his country as an enlisted man. Mr. Hassler was mustered out of service on June 14th, 1864, at Harrisburg, Pa., and on the first of the following month re-enlisted in the regular army, and was assigned to duty in the office of the adjutant-general in the war department at Washington, where he remained for two years, being honorably discharged on July 31, 1866, at his own request.

Leaving the service, Mr. Hassler engaged in merchandising in Pennsylvania and was thus engaged until the fall of 1868, when he came to Dayton and engaged in the dry-goods business, being connected with the firms of A. C. Van Doren & Co., G. G. Prugh & Co., and M. B. Parmely for a period of over twelve years. Following this he became register and money-order clerk in the Dayton post-office under the late Fielding Loury, and in this capacity he served for nine years, when he resigned to become bookkeeper for the firm of Reynolds & Reynolds, of Dayton.  In the latter position he remained until March, 1889, and in September, 1889, became assistant postmaster of Dayton, and continued in that capacity through two administrations, going out of office with the incoming of the democratic administration at Washington. In 1893 Mr. Hassler was nominated by the republican party for the office of clerk of the courts of Montgomery county, and at the general election of that year was elected by the handsome majority of 1,143 votes. In 1896 he was re-nominated and reelected, his majority being more than double that of the previous election, reaching 2,314 votes. When the previous democratic majority obtaining in the county, amounting to 1,400, is considered, it will be understood that the triumph of Mr. Hassler, and of his associates upon the ticket, was one that they and the party in general may well contemplate with pride, and the large increase of Mr. Hassler's second over his first majority stands as a strong endorsement of the manner in which he has administered the affairs of his office.

Mr. Hassler was married in 1866 to Mrs. Sarah E. McKinney, a native of New York, whose maiden name was Aldrich. The fraternal associations of Mr. Hassler are with the F. & A. M., the I. 0. 0. F., the A. E. 0. and the G. A. R.


JAMES J. BUTTLER, [page 425] superintendent of the Metropolitan Life Insurance company, at Dayton, Ohio, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 16, 1864. He is a son of Columbus and Ann (Troy) Buttler, the former of whom is now deceased. They were respectively of English and Irish ancestry. The father was engaged in the shoe business for a number of years, having previously, however, been a contractor on railroad work, and engaged principally on the Louisville & Nashville railroad.  He died in 1889, leading a widow and five children, as follows: John, a resident of Cincinnati and a commercial traveler for a shoe manufacturing firm; Mary, a resident of Brown county, Ohio; Elizabeth, a resident of Cincinnati; James J., and Joseph, a bookkeeper of Cincinnati.

James J. Buttler grew to manhood in Cincinnati, and there received his education in the public schools, graduating from the high school in 1881. He was then engaged as a cutter in a shoe manufactory for a short time, and in 1885 accepted a position with the Metropolitan Life Insurance company as agent in Covington, Ky., remaining there some two and a half years. Afterward he took an agency at Covington, Ky., holding this position two years, was then transferred to Akron, Ohio, then to Canton, Ohio, and finally, in 1893, to Dayton. Here he has been, since 1893, superintendent of the office of the company, which is located in rooms 40 and 41, Lewis block. While in the service of this company he has built up a comparatively small business to an extensive and paying one, so that it now stands far in advance of that of any other company writing the same lines within the city of Dayton. The Metropolitan writes industrial insurance from $15 up to $1,000, at ages from one year up to seventy, ordinary, or old lines, from $1,000 up to $50,000, and from twenty to sixty-five years of age. To give a synopsis of the company's business and an idea of its magnitude, it may be stated that it pays in death claims at the rate of $15 per minute of banking hours, for each day in the year. It has assets amounting to $30,000,000, and has 5,000,000 policies in force. The company has been operating in Dayton for fourteen years, and has paid out to its policy-holders hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mr. Buttler has increased the working force connected with the Dayton office, and now has sixty men soliciting in the field. There are more than 20,000 policy-holders in the city of Dayton alone.

Mr. Buttler was married in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 8, 1857, to Miss Anna Jones, a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Seider) Jones. She was born in Newport, Ky., and is the mother of three children, viz: Clifford, Mabel and Virginia. Mr. Buttler is a young man of energy and of devotion to the business whose present proportions are so largely due to his well-directed efforts.


COL. JOHN WHITEHEAD BYRON, [pages 425-427] inspector of the Central branch, N. H. D. V. S., was born on the 23rd of November, 1840, in the historic town of Cahir, situated in the " Golden Vale," county of Tipperary, Ireland. The greater part of his boyhood was spent at the home of his paternal grandfather, John Byron, in the country, about two miles from Cahir.  Here he remained until in his fifteenth year, when he joined his parents in New York city, whither they had preceded him and settled over a decade before. At the breaking out of the Rebellion he was a law student in the office of Charles H. Smith, a prominent lawyer of New York city. Possessing in large degree the martial and patriotic spirit for which the Celtic race is so justly famed, he promptly responded to President Lincoln's first call for troops and enlisted in company K, Sixty-ninth regiment of New York state militia, beknown as '" Meagher's Zouaves," after its eloquent and heroic commander, Thomas Francis Meagher. Having served the three months' term of this first enlistment, during which he took part in the fights at Blackburn's Ford and Bull Run, he was mustered out with his company in New York city on the 3rd of August, 1861.  Within a week thereafter he was tendered—but declined—authority to recruit a company for the Eighty-eighth New York volunteers, which was being organized by his whilom captain, Thomas Francis Meagher. He, however, accepted a lieutenancy, and was one of two detailed to visit various cities and towns of the state to issue transportation to recruits, and to guarantee line officers' commissions in any regiment of the Irish brigade then being organized, to such persons as would recruit the required number of men, and were otherwise qualified.   The young lieutenant passed through all the intermediate grades of rank till he reached that of lieutenant-colonel of his regiment, and was twice brevetted for gallant and meritorious service during the war, upon the recommendation of Gen. Hancock. During the terms of his second and third enlistments (his regiment veteranizing in 1863) he participated in most of the campaigns of the army of the Potomac, was present at the siege of Yorktown and the battle of Fair Oaks, in which he was wounded, Antietam, Fredericksburg-, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna and South Anna. At Petersburg, Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom and Ream's Station he commanded the remnant of the Irish brigade, which at the time was consolidated into a provisional regiment.  In the last named battle, fought Augustus, 1864, he was wounded and captured by the enemy. He was held a prisoner of war for nearly six months in Libby and Danville, Va., and Salisbury, N. C. At Salisbury he conspired with a number of his fellow-prisoners to effect their escape, but the scheme was frustrated through treachery. Another attempt to regain his liberty was made at Danville, but this also resulted in failure owing to the vigilance of the rebel guards. In this attempt Col. Ralston, of the Twenty-fourth New York cavalry, was mortally wounded. In the latter part of February, 1865, Col. Byron was exchanged, sent to Annapolis, Md., and thence given a thirty days' leave of absence to recuperate at his home in New York city. He was finally mustered out July 14, 1865, after giving to his adopted country over four years of faithful service in the field. As a private soldier and commissioned officer, Col. Byron always had the respect and esteem of his superiors, being an especial favorite with the superb Hancock, on whose staff he served for a period as ordnance officer. He was frequently detailed for special duties, and at the close of the war was inspector of the First division of the famous Second corps.

On July 21, 1865, Col. Byron set sail for Ireland with a view to aid in throwing off the yoke of England and establishing a free government on Irish soil.  He was arrested there five times, the last time under the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and was kept in confinement fourteen months. Shortly after his arrest he was offered his liberty on condition that he would consent to go under guard from prison to the ship and return to America. He, however, refused to accept freedom on such conditions, until convinced that he could be of no service to the Irish cause while in captivity.  He, therefore, returned to New York in May, 1867, became assistant adjutant-general of the Fenian Brotherhood, and subsequently inspector of that order. In June, 1869, he was appointed chief of staff to Gen. Guicoria, the Cuban patriot and martyr, and took an active part in fitting out the "Catherine Whiting expedition," which came to naught on account of the intervention of the United States authorities. In July, 1869, Col. Byron was appointed assistant assessor of legacies and successions to real estate for the Third New York district, and, after two-years service, voluntarily resigned upon the removal of his chief from office. Within a short period thereafter he was appointed an officer of customs and served as such for many years.

His health having become greatly impaired, he became a member of the Central branch home in July, 1881, and within a week after admission was detailed as clerk in the adjutant's office, promoted to chief clerk, and in 1893 was appointed inspector of the branch by the honorable board of managers of the home, much to the satisfaction of the officers and men, with whom the colonel has always been deservedly popular.

Col. Byron is actively prominent in the affairs of the Grand Army of the Republic, was the junior vice-department-commander of Ohio in 1887-8, and delegate to many national and department encampments; he is a companion of the military order of the Loyal Legion, and a member of the Present Day club, of Dayton, Ohio.


JACOB CLEMENS, [pages 427-428] a native of the palatinate of Rhenish Bavaria, was A J born on the 19th of December, 1828, being the son of Adam and Catherine Clemens, who were born in Germany, where they passed their entire lives, being people of intelligence, industry and honest worth. They became the parents of eight children, five of whom are still living. Two of the sons, Peter and Nicholas, were the first of the family to emigrate to America. They left their native land in the year 1846, and upon arriving in this country came westward to Ohio, locating in Defiance county, where they still reside, both being farmers. Two years later, in 1848, three other members of the family also came from the fatherland to try their fortunes in the United States. These three were Jacob, his brother Adam and his sister Caroline, who was then the wife of Peter Leonhardt. They landed in New York city on the. 30th of May. Another sister, Philopena, became the wife of John Schaun, whom she accompanied to Brazil in 1847.   Elizabeth and Catherine never severed the ties which bound them to the old home, and both died in Germany.

Jacob Clemens secured his educational discipline in the excellent schools of his native land, and also prepared himself for the practical duties of life by devoting his attention for some time to work at the carpenter's trade, with which he had become quite familiar at the time of his emigration to America.  Upon his arrival he came direct to Montgomery county, Ohio, and his first stay was at Hole's Creek, six miles south of Dayton, where he remained about two months.  He then went to Miamisburg, in the same county, and there remained until 1849, when he came to Dayton, where he has ever since resided. After his arrival here he worked at his trade until 1866, when he engaged in general contracting. This line of enterprise held his attention for six years, and his careful business methods and capable management insured success to his efforts. His next business venture was the building of a planing mill, at the corner of Fifth and Mad River streets, and this industry he prosecuted with excellent results for twelve years, when he disposed of the business to Philip E. Gilbert, and thereupon retired from active exertion, content to enjoy the fruits of his past labors.

Mr. Clemens, in 1851, married Miss Elizabeth Reisberger, who, like himself, was born in the picturesque Rhine district of the province of Bavaria, the year of her birth having been 1829. Their home life has been one of great happiness and the marriage has been blessed by the birth of twelve children, all save four of whom are deceased. The four survivors are; Martin, now a resident of Cincinnati; Clara, the wife of Thomas Selz, of the Pearl laundry, in Dayton; Annie and Mary, twins, the former of whom is the wife of Joseph Schneble and the latter of Theodore Schneble, of Dayton. Mr. and Mrs. Clemens have long been zealous and devoted members of Trinity Roman Catholic church, in which they have been communicants for many years.

Mr. Clemens has always taken a lively and public-spirited interest in the questions of the hour and in the political issues involved. He has been a stalwart supporter of the democratic party and a firm advocate of the essential principles which underlie its organization. In 1884 he was honored by the citizens of the county through election as a member of the board of directors of the Montgomery county infirmary, which office he retained for three years, giving to its duties that careful attention and unflagging interest which had ever been characteristic of his efforts in private business affairs.  In 1891 he was a member of the decennial board of equalization of Dayton.

Mr. Clemens is a man of marked individuality, of pleasing address, and strong intellectual grasp, and his life has been so lived as to gain to him the merited reward of the respect and esteem of his fellow men. The city of his home has ever called forth his hearty interest, and he has done all in his power to further its progress and insure its stable prosperity.  He well deserves consideration in this connection as one of the representative men of the city of Dayton,


WILBUR CONOVER, [pages 428-432] late a member of the Montgomery county, Ohio, bar, was born in Dayton, Ohio, May 10, 1821, and died October 3, 1881.

He was the son of Obadiah B. and Sarah (Miller) Conover, and was of Dutch extraction, his paternal ancestors having come from Holland to this country in the seventeenth century.

Mr. Conover was married in 1849 to Miss Elizabeth Walker Dickson, a daughter of John W. and Lucretia Dickson, born in Philadelphia in 1828, and who died at Dayton September 27, 1868. The children of this marriage were as follows : Mary, the eldest, who in 1883 married Dr. W. H. Grundy, of Dayton, and died in 1887, leaving one child, a daughter, Suzette K. Grundy ; Frank ; John Dickson, who died in 1859, at the age of two years ; Hugh Dickson, who died in 1891 in his thirty-second year ; and Hiram Strong, who died in 1868 in his second year.

Wilbur Conover grew to manhood in his native town, and in 1837, after a course for preparation for college under the tuition of E. E. Barney, at the Dayton academy, he entered the sophomore class at the Miami university, Oxford, Ohio, and graduated from that institution in 1840. He at once entered upon the study of law with the firm of Odlin & Schenck, and was admitted to the bar in 1842. From 1844 to 1850 :se practiced law in partnership with Robert C. Schenck, his former preceptor. Almost immediately upon the termination of this partnership by reason of the entrance of General Schenck into public life, Mr. Conover formed a partnership with Samuel Craighead in 1857, and this firm continued until 1877, when it was dissolved by the retirement of Mr. Conover, caused by broken health.

The firm of Conover & Craighead was, at the date of its termination, the oldest law firm in continuous existence in Ohio. It had become prominent at the Ohio bar, having established a large and important practice.  Mr. Conover was peculiarly adapted to the laborious work of the office, involving the preparation of cases and the determination of legal questions; while Mr. Craighead was one of the most eloquent and successful trial advocates ever known at the local bar. The union of the differing qualities and professional gifts of the two men resulted in a harmonious and successful association.

Mr. Conover was devoted to his profession, steadily refusing to enter public office, excepting that for a number of years he served upon the board of education of Dayton and gave especial attention to the upbuilding of the public library, which was during that period under the control of the board. This work had a peculiar attraction for him, his interest in the library having been early manifested through his connection with the Dayton Library association, the forerunner of the public library, and of which he was one of the founders and an active officer from its inception until it was merged into the public institution.

Mr. Conover's mental endowments and his personal characteristics cannot better be described than by repeating here a part of the tribute to his name adopted by the members of his profession at the time of his death. The memorial of the Dayton bar said in part:

"Mr. Conover possessed all the qualifications of an excellent lawyer, and was peculiarly fitted for the high office of judge.  He was diligent, painstaking and strictly conscientious, accurate and clear in his perceptive faculties. He was too independent and candid, and, one may add, too modest, to be a successful aspirant for popular favor. He never concealed his honest convictions on any subject, and never sacrificed or compromised them for the sake of popularity. His opinions as a lawyer were regarded with deserved confidence, as well by the community as by the profession; and his business life seemed to illustrate the lofty sense of duty united with a sincere devotion to his profession.  So long as he lived he never tarnished the achievement of professional success by personal self-seeking, or that unworthy rivalry that finds its own advancement in the depreciation of others.  He esteemed that professional eminence only as worthy of attainment which is deserved by an honorable, judicious, intelligent, truthful devotion to the interests and cause of a client.''

From the appreciative analysis of Mr. Conover's character contributed to the press at the time of his death, by his life-long friend, Robert W. Steele, we quote the following as an expression of the estimation in which he was held by one who knew him intimately from early boyhood until his death.   Mr. Steele says:

"Mr. Conover was endowed with an unusually clear, analytical mind, which, with his love of study and industry, made him the best scholar in his class. So great was his proficiency in Greek, that the professor of that language, in justice to him, used to read with him, privately, additional Greek authors which the majority of the class were unwilling or unable to master. Thoroughness was his distinguishing quality as a student, and he never left a subject until he reached the bottom of it. Truthfulness and purity characterized him throughout his college course, and in all of my intercourse with him, I never heard him utter an unworthy or impure word.

"His later life was a fitting fulfillment of the bright promise .of his college days. He occupied no official positions, because he never sought nor would accept them.  He devoted himself wholly to his profession and worthily won the high position he attained as a lawyer."


FRANCIS MARION CLEMANS, D. D., [pages 432-433] pastor of the Broadway Methodist Episcopal church, Dayton, Ohio, was born in Greene county, June 28, 1835, a son of William T. and Elizabeth (Dalby) Clemans. The father was a native of Loudoun county, Va., of Scotch-Irish descent, born in 1810, and was brought to Ohio in 1813 by his parents, who settled in Greene county.

Hezekiah Clemans, father of William T., and also a native of Virginia, was a soldier under Gen. Anthony Wayne, and while in the service had, in 1812; come with the troops to Ohio, where he made his home immediately upon his discharge from the army, and died in Van Wert, at the age of ninety-two years. The father of Hezekiah Clemens was one of seven brothers who came from Ireland to America prior to the Revolutionary war, and all united with the patriot army, the last battle in which the .great-grandfather of Francis M. took part being that of the Cowpens, which was a bayonet, hand-to-hand contest with the Hessians. The Dalby family was of Welsh descent, and largely given to professional pursuits—ministers predominating.   Both the grandfathers of Elizabeth Dalby (mother of subject) were clergymen; the paternal grand-father being a Presbyterian, but after coming to America the family became Methodists.

The children born to William T. and Elizabeth Clemans were nine in number—four sons and five daughters—of whom four are still living, viz: Francis M., the eldest born; Mrs. Laura J. Johnston, now residing in Van Wert; Leroy S., a minister of the Quaker, or Friends' church of Van Wert, and Mrs. Charlotte Grove, also a resident of that city. The deceased children, who all reached mature years, were Mrs. Angeline Keys, a teacher, whose death took place in Van Wert; Mrs. Sarah Sheley, who died in Iowa; Mrs. Martha Moorman, who died in Jamestown, Ohio; Orange Scott, who died in Van Wert in early manhood, and whose remains are interred beside those of his wife and two children. The parents of Francis M. also died in Van Wert— the mother at seventy-seven and the father at eighty-four.

Francis Marion Clemans was reared to manhood in Greene county, attended the public schools, and when about nineteen years old engaged in teaching, which vocation he followed for eleven years, studying, in the meantime, the course required in the Latin scientific department of the East Tennessee Wesleyan university—now known as the Grant Memorial university. From this institution he graduated in 1880, then took a post-graduate course, and completed this in 1882, receiving the degree of Ph. D., and receiving at the same time the degree of A. M. from the Ohio Wesleyan university. He had been converted to Christ in his eighteenth year, or in 1853, and immediately began to shape his course with a view to entering the ministry. But he was wholly self-dependent, and his struggle for an education was a severe one.   During the last four of the eleven years of his career as a teacher he was superintendent of the union schools of Jamestown, Ohio, and it was while thus employed that he was recommended to the Cincinnati conference by his home church, and of that body he has been a member since September, 1866; under its jurisdiction all his ministerial work has been performed, and during his thirty years of itinerant service he has never missed more than six appointments from any cause—an evidence of robust health, strong constitution and untiring zeal.

The pastorates or charges of Dr. Clemans have been about as follows: Union circuit, near Xenia, three years; Fairfield, three years; Middletown, three years; King's Creek circuit, two years; Mechanicsburg station, three years; Miamisburg, three years; Ripley, two years; Jamestown, three years; Franklin, five years (the limit having been changed); and, in the fall of 1893, the Broadway church in Dayton. While at Franklin, having completed a post-graduate course in the National university of Chicago, he received the degree of D. D. The Broadway church has a membership of 800, and the church property and parsonage are valued at $15,000. The Sunday-school comprises 550 scholars, the Epworth league 183, and the Junior Epworth league 140. Dr. Cle-mans has been blessed in his work as a revivalist and has made it a point to conduct one or more revivals in each of his charges; the one in which he is now engaged has resulted in the conversion of 112 souls, and during his thirty years in the ministry he has brought nearly 3,000 persons into the church.

The first marriage of Dr. Clemans was solemnized near Jamestown, Ohio, in 1859, with Miss Sarah I. Chaffin, a native of Fayette county, Ohio, and a teacher at the time of her marriage.   Of the four children born to this union, William Leroy is a bank cashier at Cedarville, Ohio, and is about thirty years of age, married, and the father of two children; Frederick Marion is cashier of the Farmers & Traders' bank of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, is married, and has had born to him three children, two still living; Lillie Viola died in Jamestown at the age of two years, and Nellie Grace died at Mechanicsburg when four years old.   Mrs. Clemans was called from earth November 5, 1885, under peculiarly sad circumstances. Being president of the missionary society of Jamestown, she had just closed a meeting with prayer, and the "Amen" which closed this supplication was the last word she ever uttered, as death followed almost instantly.

July 25, 1888, Dr. Clemans was married to Mrs. Clara (Chaffin) Clarke, widow of Max Clarke, and a cousin to the first Mrs. Clemans. This lady is a graduate of Xenia college, of which she was preceptress for some time after her first husband's death, and continued her educational work up to her present marriage. She had borne to her first husband two sons— the elder of whom died in childhood; the younger, Max Guy Clarke, graduated from the Ohio Wesleyan university at Delaware, standing at the head of his class—having completed the classical course at the age of nineteen. He began the study of law, but died at twenty-two years of age, a thorough linguist and a young man of great promise.

Dr. Clemans is a charter member of the Masonic lodge at Jamestown, Ohio, and is also an Odd Fellow.  As to politics, the Clemans family have long been noted as radical abolitionists and have been identified with the republican party ever since its organization; and the doctor, in addition to his adherence to the principles of the last-named party, is an earnest advocate of prohibition, steadily advocating this policy both in public and in private.


CLAUDE NORTH CHRISMAN, M. D., [pages 433-434] physician and surgeon of 402 Xenia avenue, Dayton, is a native of Kingston, Ross county, Ohio, born December 30, 1869. When he was two years old his father removed his family to Tarlton, Pickaway county, Ohio, and there lived six years, going thence to Delaware, Ohio, where they lived for three years. The family then came to Dayton, Ohio, which has since been their residence.

Claude N. Chrisman is a son of William and Nancy (North) Chrisman, both of whom are still living, the father being a railroad contractor. The subject of this sketch was educated primarily in the public schools and at the high schools of Dayton, and finished his education by attending the Ohio Wesleyan university at Delaware, Ohio, being a student there three years.  In order to qualify himself for the practice of the medical profession, he then became a student in the office of Dr. J. M. Weaver, of Dayton, where he studied for some time, afterward entering the Miami Medical college, and graduating from that institution in 1895. He at once entered upon the practice of his profession in Dayton, and is meeting with most gratifying success, having already become well known as a progressive young physician.  Dr. Chrisman is assistant on the staff at Saint Elizabeth Medical & Surgical hospital of Dayton. He is a member of the Phi Gamma Delta society, and of the Broadway Methodist Episcopal church of Dayton, recently organized.  He follows the general practice of medicine, though he is giving special attention to surgery, which science is sufficiently broad to take in all classes of medical practitioners and to have no "schools." It is surgery that Dr. Chrisman prefers, and which he has in view as a special form of practice.


EMILE COBLENTZ, [page 434] aged fifty-eight years, enlisted April, 1861, in the Twelfth New York state militia for three months, first call; re-enlisted for three years in company L, Third Pennsylvania heavy artillery; and was discharged November 8, 1865, at expiration of service, the war having long before come to a close.


FRANK CONOVER, [page 434] attorney, of Dayton, Ohio, was born in that city May 29, 1853. He is the son of Wilbur and Elizabeth W. (Dickson) Conover.  His father, of whom a sketch appears elsewhere in this volume, was of Dutch ancestry, and his mother of Irish extraction.

Frank Conover was educated in the public schools of his birthplace, graduating from the Central high school in the year 1872. He then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Boston, taking a special course of three years in civil engineering. Returning to Dayton in 1875, he was employed in the engineering corps upon the construction of the Dayton & South Eastern railroad until the summer of 1876.  Mr. Conover then determined to begin the study of the law, and entered the office of Conover & Craighead, of which firm his father was the senior member. Completing his preparatory course of study, he was admitted to the bar in 1878. For about two years thereafter he remained in the office of Craighead & Craighead, which firm had succeeded that of Conover & Craighead in 1877. He then entered upon and has ever since continued the practice of law alone.

Mr. Conover served as assistant city solicitor of Dayton from the spring of 1891 to 1894.  He has for over five years past been a member of the Dayton library board, and has taken an active interest in the extension of the usefulness of the public library. He has been especially concerned in effecting closer relations between that institution and the public schools, having delivered a number of public addresses upon that subject.

In 1879 Mr. Conover married Charlotte Elizabeth Reeve, eldest daughter of Dr. J. C. and Emma G. Reeve, of Dayton. To this marriage have been born four children: Elizabeth Dickson, John Charles Reeve, Wilbur and Charlotte Mary.


FRANK C. CLEMENS, [page 437] of the firm of McDermont & Clemens, plumbers, gas and steam fitters, etc., Dayton, Ohio, is a native of this city, and was born November 1, 1871. He is the son of Nicholas J. and Anna (Brown) Clemens, both of whom were born in Germany, but were brought to America when young by their parents, who settled in Dayton, and there passed the remainder of their lives. Nicholas J. and his wife, Anna, are still living in Dayton, where Nicholas J. is now retired. Their family was composed of seven children, of whom one is deceased; Frank C. is the eldest of the survivors; James is a student in France and is being prepared for the Catholic ministry; Rose is a sister in St. Francis order, of Dayton, and the remaining three, Joseph, Harry and Mary, are students in the city schools.

Frank C. Clemens was also educated in Dayton—partly in the public schools and partly in the Catholic parochial schools. His first independent effort in life was in the business in which he is still engaged; he having first worked at this trade for five years under F. J. McCormick, and then becoming a partner with S. B. McDermont in the present extensive business at No. 13 East Second street. This firm gives almost constant employment to thirty men and certainly does the largest business in this line in Dayton, both partners being thorough masters of their trade.

Besides being a member of the Emanuel Roman Catholic church, Mr. Clemens is connected with several religious and social orders, among which may be named the Knights of St. George, the American Sons of Columbus, the Catholic Gesellen Verein, the Catholic Orphan's society, and the Harmonia society, Mr. Clemens is a young man of excellent tact and practical judgment, and has won a place of prominence among Dayton's many successful young business men.


JOHN COLLINS, [pages 437-438] official stenographer for the courts of Montgomery county, Ohio. and superintendent of the stenographic department of Beck's Commercial college, of Dayton, Ohio, was born at Angelica, Allegany county, N. Y., September 14, 1849. He attended the public schools of Wellsville, in the county of his birth, and also the academy at Angelica, receiving additional instruction in Latin and other branches from his father.

Charles Collins, his father, was born in Geneva, Ontario county, N. Y., January 2, 1813. He received his education at Geneva college, now Hobart college, situated at Geneva, N. Y.—a Protestant Episcopal institution established in 1822. He graduated from that institution in 1834, and is, with one exception, the oldest alumnus of that college now living. Having afterward studied law, he practiced that profession for some time in Detroit, Mich., from which city he removed to Angelica, N. Y., where his parents were then living, and practiced law at Angelica and at Wellsville, N. Y., for some time. His father was one of the distinguished men of that county, being county judge for several years. In 1866 Mr. Collins removed to Northumberland, Northumberland county, Pa., and there engaged in fruit farming, having retired from the active practice of the law. After living at Northumberland, engaged as above noted, until 1882, he removed to Dayton, Ohio, and is now residing in that city with his son. His wife was Elizabeth Hyde Cardell, daughter of William S. Cardell, of Lancaster, Pa.., the author of several school books, among them Jack Halyard, a work well-known in the east. William S. Cardell was a half-brother of Chancellor Walworth, of New York state. Mrs. Collins died in 1873, at Northumberland, Pa.

John Collins learned from his father the characters used in shorthand before he learned the ordinary English letters. He remained on the farm with his father until 1875.  He then went to Delaware, Ohio, where he purchased and operated a book bindery for three years, giving more or less attention to shorthand during that time.  He reported the proceedings of the first convention of the Music Teachers' National association, held at Delaware in that year, and afterward did occasional work of this kind in Delaware until 1878, when he went to Columbus, Ohio, and there spent one year with the official stenographers at the capitol. In the spring of 1879 he removed to Dayton and received the appointment as official stenographer for the courts of Montgomery county, a position he has held continuously up to the present time, eighteen years.

Mr. Collins was married in the spring of 1877 to Sarah J. Leighoux, of Northumberland, Pa., and to them have been born three daughters—Helen, Bertha and Lucy, all of whom are attending the Steele high school, in Dayton.

Mr. Collins has achieved a high reputation for accuracy and reliability in the duties of his official position, and the excellence of his work is fully appreciated by the members of the legal profession who constitute the Montgomery county bar. He is a writer of no mean literary attainments, and has produced a number of articles, both in prose and verse, of a high degree of merit.


Return to "Centennial Portrait" Home Page