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Historical Sketch of Dayton





Historical Sketch of Dayton.


The first white man's habitation upon the present site of Dayton was built in 1786, but the settlers were soon driven off by the savages. In 1795 the abandoned settlement was begun once more, by Jonathan Dayton, General Arthur St. Clair, General James Wilkinson and Colonel Israel Ludlow.  They arrived here November first, 1795, nearly a century ago, and named the new city in honor of Jonathan Dayton. To induce settlement, lots were at first given away on condition of location and improvement. Only nineteen persons fulfilled these conditions, and thus the future city began.

On the southwest corner of Main Street and Monument Avenue can be seen a structure identified with the first decade of the city's history. The old logs are concealed by weather boarding, but they still remain as solid as when Colonel George Newcom and his compeers hewed them out of the virgin forest in 1798. Far and near it was known as Newcom's Tavern. The first floor was the tavern proper, and on the second floor was the first retail store of the period.  Another room on the second floor served as the first court room, and was also used by the Presbyterians as a church. Colonel Newcom was then sheriff, and having no jail at his disposal for the reception of prisoners, he used to lower them into a dry well in the rear of his tavern.

In 1800 the first flatboat made its descent from the mouth of Mad River via the Miami and the Ohio to Cincinnati. This was the beginning of Dayton commerce with New Orleans. Trade with the East was maintained with wagons over the, Allegheny Mountains. The village of Dayton was incorporated by an act of the Legislature passed February 12, 1805. The expenses of the town for the first year were $72, which the people voted not to pay.

In March, 1805, a great freshet in the rivers caused much destruction of property, and came near inducing the settlers to move to the hills further east. In 1806 a new one-story brick courthouse was built on the north-west corner of Main and Third streets,—the first brick building of Dayton. In the following year the first brick tavern was erected on the south-west corner of Main and Second streets, where now stands the Firemen's Insurance Building. September 18, 1808, the first newspaper was published in Dayton, called The Dayton Repertory. It lived only about a year. A nail factory and a dye house were started in 1809. In 1810 the population was only 383.

It took a week for a letter to go from Cincinnati to Dayton.

The war of 1812 helped Dayton, as it was made a rendezvous for our militia. Mr. Cooper, the city's real founder, with his usual sagacity, employed the idle soldiers in digging a mill race, which perhaps could not have been excavated without their help. Many of the soldiers who passed through Dayton on their way to the field moved here after the war. In 1813 the first bank, and in 1814 the first market house, were opened. The year 1818 saw the first mail stage run from Dayton to Cincinnati, taking in Springfield on the route.

A new era began to dawn in the city's history when in 1825 the Legislature passed the Canal law, and the route was projected between Cleveland and Cincinnati. Ground was first broken for the canal at Newark, Ohio, July 4, 1825, with imposing ceremonies.  On a quiet Sunday in January, 1829, the first canal-boat arrived from Cincinnati. This gave Dayton direct water communication with the East, freight reaching her from New York in only twenty days. January 1, 1832, the population had increased to 3,258, and in 1840 to 6,067 inhabitants.  March 4, 1841, the Legislature granted a city charter to Dayton.

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