Settlement of Dayton-Venice on Site of Dayton Laid Out in 1789-Major Sites-Venice Abandoned- Danger of Visiting Site of Dayton Before 1791- Hostile Indians-Treaty of Greenville Secures Safety of Settlers-Site of Dayton Purchased from Symmes-Original Proprietors of Dayton-Symmes Requires Three Settlements to Be Made-Benjamin Van Cleve's Account of the Survey of the Purchase-I). C. Cooper Cuts a Road Out of the Brush - Hardships Endured by Surveyors - Field Notes Kept on Tables of Wood - Dayton Laid Out and Named - Lottery' Held on Site of Town, November 4th-Lots and Inlols Donated to Settlers Drawn-Settlers Permitted to Purchase One Hundred and Sixty Axes at a French Crown Per Acre -Forty-six Persons Agree to Settle at Dayton - Only Nineteen Eventually Avail Themselves of Donations and Become Settlers-Van Cleve's Account of Settlements in the Purchase-Names of Original Settlers of Dayton-Three Parties Leave Cincinnati in March, 1796-Hamer's Party Travel in Two-horse Wagon-Newcom's Party Make the Journey on Horseback-Difficulties of the Journey to Dayton by Land-Thompson's Party Ascend the Miami in a Pirogue -Description of the Voyage-Poling Up Stream- Beauty of the Landscape-Supper in the Miami Woods-Names of the Passengers in the Pirogue-Ten Days from Cincinnati to Dayton-Mrs. Thompson the First to Land-Indians Encamped at Dayton-Land at Head of St. Clair Street-The Uninhabited Forest All that Welcomed Them-Encouraging Indications-Biographies of Original Settlers-Daniel C. Cooper
SIX years before Dayton was projected Major Benjamin Stites, John Stites Gano and William Goforth formed plans for a settlement to be called Venice, at the mouth of the Tiber, as they named MadRiver.
The site of this proposed city lay within the seventh range of townships, which, on June 13, 1789, they agreed to purchase from John Cleves Symmes for eighty-three cents an acre. The contract was signed " at the block houses near Columbia, commanded by the above-named Benjamin Stites." One of the stipulations made by the purchasers was that a road should be at once cut through the woods to MadRiver. The deed was executed and recorded, but Symmes' misunderstanding with the government and the Indian troubles forced them to abandon their project, and "we escaped being Venetians." But before their plan was frustrated, the town of Venice, with its two principal streets crossing each other at right angles in the center, was laid out on paper. In each of the four quarters outlined by the streets the position of houses and squares was indicated. The projectors were Baptists, and a whole square was set aside as a gift to the first church of that denomination organized by Venetians. A half-acre lot was promised to "each denomination of pious and well and religiously disposed people, who worship the God of Israel, found in the town within two years after the founding of the (page 35) settlement." The lots within the town contained half an acre, and were valued at four dollars each. Three of them were donated as sites for a capitol, court house, and jail. The out-lots were to contain five acres, and the price for each was twenty-five dollars.
From the time that Major Stites and his colleagues canceled their bargain with Judge Symmes till 1794 the Indians were constantly on the war-path. White men who ascended the Miami from Cincinnati to the site of Dayton made the journey at the risk of their lives. A spy and a hunter always accompanied them, and one was as necessary as the other. Surveyors were obliged to be continually on the watch while on the march or in camp. Part always stood on guard, while the rest cooked, and for fear of attracting the attention of wandering bands of savages, it was necessary to extinguish their fre at bedtime, and to keep a sharp lookout when they rekindled it before daybreak. Previous to Wayne's victory, it would have been foolhardy to attempt a settlement in the heart of the enemy's country, and expose helpless women and children to the raids of the pitiless savages.
The treaty of Greenville was regarded as securing the safety of settlers in the Indian country. August 20, 1795,less than three weeks after the treaty was signed, a party of gentlemen contacted for the purchase from John Cleves Symmes of the seventh and eighth ranges, between MadRiver and the Little Miami. The purchasers were General Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory; General Jonathan Dayton, afterward senator from New Jersey; General James Wilkinson, of Wayne's army, and Colonel Israel Ludlow, from Long Hill, Morris County, New Jersey. They proposed to make three settlements,-at the mouth of MadRiver; on the Little Miami, in the seventh range; and on MadRiver, above the mouth. This was one of the conditions of their contract with Judge Symmes. Benjamin Van Cleve, one of the original settlers of Dayton, gives in his journal an interesting account of the survey of this purchase in the autumn of 1795: "Two parties of surveyors set of on the 21st of September, Mr. Daniel C. Cooper to survey and mark a road and cut out some of the brush, and Captain John Dunlap to run the boundaries of the purchase. I went with Dunlap. There were at this time several stations on Mill Creek-Ludlow's, White's, Tucker's, Voorhees', and Cunningham's. We came to Voorhees' and encamped.
"In the morning Mr. Cooper and his party proceeded with the road, and our party took Ilarmar's old trace in company with a Mr. Bedell, who had a wagon with provisions and tools and was going to make a settlement a considerable distance in advance of the frontier, which was (page 36) afterward called Bedell's Station, and lay a few miles west of where Lebanon now is. On the 23d we reached the line between the third and fourth ranges of townships, which had been run by Dunlap in 1788. On the 24th and 25th run north eighteen miles to the south boundary of the seventh range, and then run, west to the Miami, running nearly south. The next morning our horse was missing. We hunted for him all day, but never found him. He had been well secured. The Indians probably had stolen him. On the 27th we carried our baggage up to the mouth of MadRiver. About thirty rods from the mouth we found a camp of about six Wyandot Indians. We were a little alarmed at each other at frst, but became very friendly. They gave us some venison jerk and we in return gave them a little four, salt, tobacco, and other small articles. At the request of one of them, I exchanged knives with him, giving him a very large one, scabbard and belt that I had carried for several years, for his, which was not so valuable, with a worsted belt and a deer skin to boot. We had not been here long until Mr. Cooper and his party arrived. "On the 28th, Mr. Cooper returned to make some alterations in his road. We continued engaged in our survey till the 4th of October. We established the northern and southern boundaries of the purchase, and meandered MadRiver and the Miami from the northern line of the eighth range to the southern line of the seventh, when we returned to Cincinnati."
Mr. Van Cleve records many hardships and dangers. On the morning of the 1st of October, they sent their hunter and packhorseman, William Gahagan and Jonathan Mercer, forward to cook at the mouth of Muddy Run; but their surveying occupied more time than they anticipated, and it was evening before, after a day of fasting, they reached the rendezvous. "When we found them," he says, "some Indians had robbed them of the most of our provisions and menaced their lives." Soon after they fasted for thirty-four hours, working and walking most of the time. "October 3d. It rained very hard, and the surveyor got his paper all wet, and was about stopping. We had about .a pound of meat, and though we had nearly done our business, were thinking of setting off for home. I undertook to keep the field notes, and fell on the expedient of taking them down on tables of wood with the point of my knife, so that I could understand them and take them off again on paper." "On the 1st of November went again to Mad River. On the 4th, Israel Ludlow laid off the town at the mouth of MadRiver, and called it Dayton, after one of the proprietors. A lottery was held, and I drew lots for myself and several others, and engaged to become a settler in the ensuing spring."
(page 37) Each of the original settlers received a donation of an in-lot and an out-lot, which he or his representatives drew at the lottery held at the mouth of MadRiver November 4th. In addition, each of them had the privilege of purchasing one hundred and sixty acres at a French crown, or about one dollar and thirteen cents per acre. The proprietors hoped, by offering these inducements, to attract settlers to the place. Forty-six persons had agreed to remove from Cincinnati to Dayton, but only fifteen fulfilled their engagement. Four others however came, so that the number of settlers who had entitled themselves to the donations and other privileges offered by the proprietors was nineteen. Two or three prospectors came up during the winter, but returned for their families. Benjamin Van Cleve says in his journal, under date of April 1,1796: "During the preceding winter two or three settlers had arrived here; several families had settled at Hole's Station, where Miamisburg now is; a few persons had settled at the Big Prairie on Clear Creek (below Middletown) ; two had established themselves at Clear Creek and several were scattered about the country lower down. This spring a settlement was made by Jonathan Mercer eight miles up MadRiver; another was made at the forks, called Chribb's Station; another at the mouth of Honey Creek, and another at the old Piqua, on the Miami." But for several years Dayton was considered the frontier. One of the settlements begun this year was Franklin.
The original settlers of Dayton were the following persons and their families : William Hamer, Solomon Hamer, Thomas Hamer, George Newsom, William Newcom, Abraham Grassmire, John Davis, John Dorough, William Chenowith, James Morris, Daniel Ferrell, Samuel Thompson, Benjamin Van Cleve, James McClure, John McClure, Thomas McClure, William Gahagan, William Van Cleve.
In March, 1796, they left Cincinnati in three parties, led by William Hamer, George Newcom, and Samuel Thompson. Hamer's party was the first to start; the other two companies left on Monday, March 21st, one by land, the other by water. Hamer's party came in a two-horse wagon over the road begun, but only partially cut through the woods, by Cooper in the fall of 1795. The company consisted of Mr. and Mrs. William Hamer and their children, Solomon, Thomas, Nancy, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Polly, and Jonathan and Edward Mercer. They were delayed and had a long, cold and uncomfortable journey. In the other party that traveled by land were Mr. and Mrs. George Newcom and their brother William, James Morris, John Dorough and family, Daniel Ferrell and family, Solomon Goss and family, John Davis and Abraham Grassmire. William Van Cleve, instead of going with his relatives in the pirogue, (page 38) accompanied this party to drive Mr. Thompson's cow, which was with the cattle belonging to the Newcom division of the colonists. They were two weeks on the road. The sixty miles from Cincinnati to MadRiver was a tedious and exhausting journey. The road was merely a rough, narrow, unbroken path through the woods and brush, except that part of it which led to FortHamilton, which, as it was used by the army, was kept in tolerably good condition. They suffered from cold and dampness in camp, as it had rained and was spitting snow.
Their furniture, stoves, clothes, provisions, cooking utensils and agricultural implements and other property, as well as children too small to walk, were carried on horses in creels made of hickory withes and suspended from each side of pack saddles. It was a difficult matter to ford the creeks without getting the freight and women and children wet. Trees were cut down to build foot bridges across the smaller streams. Rafts were constructed to carry the contents of the creels and the women and children over large creeks, while the horses and cattle swam. Their rifles furnished them with plenty of game and their cows with milk at meals. They were obliged to stop for a time at the Big Prairie, near Middletown, and made a second halt at hole's Creek, now Miamisburg. They reached here in less than a week after the other parties arrived. Thompson's party came in a large pirogue down the Ohio to the Miami and up that stream to the mouth of MadRiver. A pirogue was a long, narrow boat of light draft and partly enclosed and roofed. One man steered while the others poled. The Miami in 1796 wound through an almost uninhabited wilderness. Such a journey, looking back from this safe and prosaic age when steam cars whirl us up from Cincinnati in two hours, must have been full of danger and of exciting adventures, and yet not without its pleasures. It required much skill and muscular strength to pole a boat up stream for many miles. In an article on "Early Recollections of the West," contributed to the American Pioneer, a description of this mode of navigation is given. The writer says the boats were "provided with running boards, extending from bow to stern, on each side of the boat. Each man was provided with a pole with a heavy socket. The crew, divided equally on each side, set their poles near the head of the boat, and bringing the end of the pole to their shoulders, with their bodies bent, walked slowly down the running board to the stern, returning at a quick pace to the bow for a new set." Imagination invests this little band of adventurers, laboriously poling their boat load of women and children up the Indian-named river and valley to a frontier home in the ancient Miami hunting grounds, with an atmosphere of romance. On the borders of their ancestral corn fields (page 39) and game preserve, lurked jealous and revengeful savages, gazing with envious and homesick eyes on the rich lands of which the pioneers had dispossessed them. The Indian reign of terror lasted till after 1799, but travelers on the river were probably in less danger of surprise in early spring than when the foliage was in full leaf, and the Indians could consequently more easily conceal themselves.
However unpropitious the season may be, there are always occasional sunshiny days in early spring in Ohio. Though the woods in 1796 were wet from recent showers, the rain seems to have been over before the pirogue began its voyage, and no doubt part of the time the weather was mild and bright. The banks of the Miami were thickly wooded, the flowers and foliage of the trees were just beginning to unfold, and the ground was covered with grass fresh with the greenness of spring. Along the lower part of the river the foliage was more advanced and the earlier varieties of wild flowers were coming into bloom. For miles on either side of the Miami extended a fertile and beautiful country, diversified beyond the rich bottom lands by low hills and pleasant little valleys, dense forests of ornamental trees and the most valuable timber and occasional small level prairies (natural fields and meadows awaiting the farmer's plow and cattle), the whole watered by cool, delicious springs and limpid streams.
At the close of each day the boat was tied to a tree on the shore, and the emigrants landed and camped for the night around the big fire by which they cooked their appetizing supper of game and fish and the eggs of wild fowls for which the hunger of travelers was a piquant and sufficient sauce. No doubt their food, as described by other pioneers, was cooked after this fashion: Meat was fastened on a sharpened stick, stuck in the ground before the fire, and frequently turned. Dough for wheat bread was sometimes wound around a stick and baked in the same way. Corn bread was baked under the hot ashes. "Sweeter roast meat," exclaims an enthusiastic pioneer writer, "than such as is prepared in this manner, no epicure of Europe ever tasted." " Scarce any one who has not tried it can imagine the sweetness and gusto of such a meal, in such a place, at such a time."
No doubt the travelers by water had a more comfortable trip than those who came by land, though to hardy pioneer families a journey on horseback or in a wagon through the Miami woods, even if undertaken in early spring, had its compensating enjoyments, which were sometimes remembered after its hardships were forgotten.
In the pirogue came Samuel Thompson and his wife, Catherine; their children, Sarah two years old, Martha three months old, and Mrs. (page 40) Thompson's son, Benjamin Van Cleve, then about twenty-five, and her daughter, Mary Van Cleve, nine years of age; the widow McClure and her sons and daughters, James, John, Thomas, Kate, and Ann; and William Gahagan, a young Irishman. The passage from Cincinnati to Dayton occupied ten days. Mrs. Thompson was the first to step ashore, and the first white woman, except, perhaps, the captive Mrs. McFall, rescued by Kentuckians in 1782, to set her foot on Dayton soil. Two small camps of Indians were here when the pirogue touched the Miami bank, but they proved friendly, and were persuaded to leave in a day or two. The pirogue landed at the head of St. Clair Street Friday, April 1st. The following brief entry is the only allusion Benjamin Van Cleve makes in his journal to this important event in the history of Dayton: "April 1, 1796. Landed at Dayton, after a passage of ten days, William Gahagan and myself having come with Thompson's and McClure's families in a large pirogue."
We can easily imagine the loneliness and dreariness of the uninhabited wilderness, which confronted these homeless families. There were three women and four children-one an infant-in- the party. "The unbroken forest was all that welcomed them, and the awful stillness of night had no refrain but the howling of the wolf and the wailing of the whippoorwill."
The spring was late and cold, but though at first the landscape looked bare and desolate, before many days the air was sweet with the blossoms of the wild grape, and plum, and cherry, and the woods beautiful with the contrasting red and white of the red bud and dogwood and the fresh green of young leaves. The woods and prairies were full of wild fruits and flowers. These wild fruits and the hickory nuts and walnuts, which were very abundant in the fall, would be a welcome addition to their scanty fare, and among the smaller alleviations of their lot. The thick growth of weeds and flowers was a proof of the richness of the soil. The experienced pioneers discovered encouraging indicatious wherever their eyes rested.
The first settlers of Dayton passed through many thrilling and romantic adventures, and the story of their lives, if we had it in full, would be exciting and entertaining. The few biographical incidents that have been preserved are interesting to students of our early history. The Thompson party was the first to arrive here. Samuel Thompson was a native of Pennsylvania and removed to Cincinnati soon after its settlement. He married the widow of John Van Cleve. Mr. Thompson was drowned in MadRiver in 1817 and Mrs. Thompson died at Dayton, August 6, 1837.
(page 41) Benjamin Van Cleve was a typical man, and as a good representative of the best pioneer character, is worthy of especial notice. He kept a journal which might well be called an autobiography, and from which the incidents mentioned in the following sketch have been mainly drawn. He was the oldest son of John and Catharine Benham Van Cleve and was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey, February 24, 1773. He had three brothers and five sisters. His ancestors came from Holland in the seventeenth century.
His earliest recollection was the battle of Monmouth, which occurred when he was five years old. He remembered the confusion and the fight of the women and children to the pine swamps and the destruction of his father's house, stock, and blacksmith shop by the British. The refugees in the pine woods could hear the firing, and 11 when our army was retreating many of the men melted to tears; when it was advancing there was every demonstration of joy and exultation." His father served with the New Jersey militia during nearly the whole of the Revolution. He emigrated in 1785 from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, where he lived on a farm near Washington. He removed to Cincinnati in 1789, coming down the river in a boat and arriving January 3, 1790.
Benjamin Van Cleve, who was now seventeen, settled on the east bank of the Licking, where Major Leech, in order to form a settlement, and have a farm opened for himself, offered a hundred acres for clearing each ten acre field, with the use of the cleared land for three years. John Van Cleve intended to assist his son in this work, but was killed by the Indians on the 1st of June, while working in his out-lots near Cincinnati. He was stabbed in five places and scalped. Benjamin Van Cleve, by hard work as a day laborer, paid John Van Cleve's small debts, finished, for the benefit of his mother, work which his father had engaged to do, settled his books and sold his blacksmith's tools to the quartermaster general. He returned after the funeral to his land at Leech's Station to plant his corn, but was obliged to spend the greater part of his time in Cincinnati working to support his mother and young brother and sisters. He tried to the best of his ability, though a mere boy, to fill his father's place.
Much of the time from 1791 till 1794 he was employed in the quartermaster's department, whose headquarters were at FortWashington. He branded and herded government horses and cattle, brought up boat loads of salt and provisions from Kentucky, accompanied brigades of loaded pack-horses to the headquarters of St. Clair's army in the Indian country; carried orders, kept accounts, acted as hostler for his uncle and himself, often walking weary miles over icy roads or through (page 42) snow, slush and mud, earning his wages of fifteen dollars a month by hard, rough work. He was young and inexperienced, but poverty and the thought of his helpless family sobered and restrained him, and he had no inclination to fall into idle or dissipated habits. It is remarkable that he had sufficient fortitude and resolution to resist temptation, forced as he was for several years to associate with discharged soldiers and the most profane and dissolute followers of the army.
He was present at St. Clair's defeat, and gives in his journal a thrilling account of the rout and retreat of the army and his own escape and safe return to Cincinnati. He lost his horse and his clothing, for "having sometimes to be with the offers and sometimes in the mud," when employed by the quartermaster's department, he carried all the clothes he owned with him.
In the spring of 1792 he was sent off from Cincinnati at , at a moment's notice, by the quartermaster general to carry dispatches to the War Department at Philadelphia. At that day such a journey was a long and weary one, and although the authorities were satisfied with his services and accounts, they did not pay him until March, 1793, which subjected him to great inconvenience. In connection with this visit to Philadelphia, he mentions drawing a plan of the President's new house, reading "Barclay's Apology," and a number of other Quaker works, and purchasing twenty-five books, which he read through on the voyage from Pittsburg to Cincinnati, entries which are all very characteristic of the man.
In the spring of 1794 lie went with Hugh Wilson, commissary, William Gahagan, and others down the Ohio to FortMassac in charge of two contractors' boats, loaded with provisions and accompanied by a detachment of troops. There were twelve boats in their feet. They were constantly apprehending attacks from the Indians. lie describes himself on this voyage as dressed in hunting frock, breech cloth, leggings, and moccasins, and carrying a gun, and tomahawk, and a knife eighteen inches long suspended from his belt.
In the fall of 1795 be accompanied Captain Dunlap's party to make the survey for the Dayton settlement. When not surveying, he wrote in the recorder's office.
April 10, 1796, he arrived in Dayton with the first party of settlers that came. This year he raised a good crop of corn at Dayton and sold out his possessions in Cincinnati, but sunk the price of his lots. Most of his corn was destroyed and he was about $40.00 in debt. He gave "$80.00 for a yoke of oxen and one of them was shot, and $20.00 for a cow and she died."
(page 43) In the fall of the year he went with Israel Ludlow and William C. Schenck to survey the United States military lands between the Scioto and MuskingumRivers. "We had deep snow," he says, "covered with crust; the weather was cold and still, so that we could kill but little game and were twenty-nine days without bread and nearly all that time without salt and sometimes very little to eat. We were five days, seven in company, on four meals, and they, except the last, scanty. They consisted of a turkey, two young raccoons, and the last day some rabbits and venison, which we got from some Indians."
From this time until 1802 he farmed in summer, and in winter went out surveying, kept books, wrote in the recorder's office at Cincinnati, where one winter he also studied surveying; or assisted the clerk of the Ohio legislature, or made out the list of taxable persons and their property. August 28, 1800, he married Mary Whitten, daughter of John and Phebe Whitten, who lived in Wayne township. This year he was appointed surveyor of Dayton township. He had been forced to sell his preemption rights to out-lots, but in 1801, when land offices were opened and commissioners to examine claims were appointed, he succeeded in getting certificates for 160 acres and for some lots in Dayton, which he afterwards got patented. lie built a cabin on his quarter section, and as far as his health would permit, devoted himself to farming. This quarter section is now included within the corporation of Dayton and has proved a valuable property to his descendants.
Benjamin Van Cleve, though self-educated, was a man of much information and became a prominent and influential citizen. In the winter of 1799-1800 he taught in the block house, the first school opened in Dayton. From the organization of MontgomeryCounty in 1803 till his death in 1821 he was clerk of the court. He was the first postmaster of Dayton and served from 1804 till 1821. In 1805 lie was one of the incorporators of the Dayton Library. In 1809 he was appointed by the legislature a member of the first board of trustees of MiamiUniversity. He was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church. Benjamin Van Cleve's valuable and interesting journal, only a small part of which has been printed, contains almost all the early documentary history of Dayton that is now in existence. The files of Dayton newspapers 1808-1821, fortunately preserved by him and presented to the Public Library by his son, John W. Van Cleve, furnish the largest part of the material for that period in the history of the town now obtainable. Mr. Van Clove's graphic description in his journal of St. Clair's defeat is considered the best account of that terrible rout and massacre ever written and has been published many times. His manuscript journal, (page 44) written for the "instruction and entertainment of his children," is now in the possession of his great grandson, Mr. R. Fay Dover, of Dayton. It is written in a beautiful hand, as legible as copper-plate, and is adorned with a neatly executed plan of FortDefiance, drawn and colored by the author. He had five children, one of whom died young. John Whitten Van Cleve, his eldest child, was born June 27, 1801, and died at Dayton,
September 6, 1858. He had three daughters. Henrietta Maria married first Samuel B. Dover, and after his death Joseph Bond. Mary Cornelia married James Andrews. Sarah Sophia married David C. Baker. Mary Van Cleve, their mother, died December 28, 1810. Benjamin Van Cleve died November 29, 1821.
Captain William Van Cleve, brother of Benjamin, was born near Monmouth, New Jersey, in 1777. He was married twice, and by his first wife, Effe Westfall, had several children.
At the first call for troops in 1812, he raised a company of riflemen in Dayton, which was ordered to the front in June. From the close ofthe war until his death, in 1828, he kept a tavern at the junction of Warren and Jefferson streets. Mary Van Cleve, the sister of Benjamin and William, lived in Dayton from her eleventh year till her death, March 3, 1882, at the age of ninety-fve years. Many valuable facts in regard to early times were obtained from her in 1882 by Captain Ashley Brown, from whose gleanings all later historians of Dayton are obliged to borrow. She described the trip on the pirogue from Cincinnati, remembered, in 1799 and 1800, attending the school taught by her brother in the block house on the Main Street bank of the Miami, and was familiar with events happening in every stage in the progress of the town during the first eighty-five years of its history. She was married twice-in 1804 to John McCain, by whom she had ten children, and in 1826 to Robert Swaynie. She had no children by her second marriage. William Gabagan was a native of Pennsylvania, but of Irish parentage. He was a soldier in Wayne's legion, and came. West in 1793, serving with the army till the peace in 1795. Benjamin Van Cleve and he were friends and comrades, and in the summer of 1794 made a trip together to FortMassac, with contractors' goods. They were also both of the party who went, under the command of Captain Dunlap, to survey the MadRiver lands. He removed in 1804 or 1805 to a tract of land south of Troy, called Gahagan's Prairie, which he owned. Here his wife died, and he married Mrs. Tennery. He died about 1845 in Troy. The McClures, after living in Dayton four or five years, removed to Honey Creek, MiamiCounty. Of Solomon Goss, Thomas Davis, William Chenowith, James Morris, and Daniel Ferrell little is known.
(page 45) Abraham Grassmire was a German and unmarried. He was a very useful member of the little community, helping to make the first looms owned in Dayton, and showing much ingenuity in contriving conveniences not easily obtained by pioneer housekeepers.
John Dorough was the owner of a mill on MadRiver, five miles northeast of Dayton, afterward known as the Kneisly mills. Colonel George Newcom was born in Ireland, but emigrated to Delaware with his father and mother in 1775. He moved to Cincinnati about 1794, and, as before stated, to Dayton in 1796. Jane, daughter of George and Mary Newcom, was born at DaytonApril 14, 1800, at her father's tavern, on the corner of Main Street and Monument Avenue. She was married in 1819 to Nathaniel Wilson. Colonel Newcom, as he was usually called, served as a soldier in Wayne's campaign against the Indians, and also in the war of 1812. He was sheriff of the county, State senator, member of the assembly, and was highly esteemed by the whole community. His first wife died in 1834, and in 1836 he married Elizabeth Bowen, who died in 1850. Colonel Newcom died February 25, 1853.
William Newcom, younger brother of George, was born about 1776. He died at Dayton from the effects of hardships and exposure during the war of 1812, in which he served as a soldier.
William Hamer was a native of Maryland, and was born about 1750. Mr. Hamer was a Methodist local preacher. He was the first minister who preached in the settlement, and as soon as his cabin was finished, began to hold services there.
As Jerome Holt, D. C. Cooper, and Robert Edgar arrived in the summer of 1796, they may be properly numbered among the original settlers of Dayton.
Jerome Holt was a brother-in-law of Benjamin Van Cleve, and they had been partners in Cincinnati. When John Van Cleve was killed, he assisted Benjamin in his first efforts to provide for the family. His wife, Ann Van Cleve, was born in Monmouth County, New Jersey, July 30, 1775, and died in 1858, in Van Buren Township, where the Holts settled in 1797. He was appointed constable of DaytonTownship in 1800, and was elected sheriff of MontgomeryCounty in 1809. From 1810-1812 he was Colonel of the Fifth Regiment of militia. The following order was issued in 1812 by R. J. Meigs, governor of Ohio :
"HEADQUARTERS, DAYTON, May 26, 1812.
"Captain Van Cleve's company of riflemen will march to the frontier of the State west of the Miami under the direction and charge of Colonel Holt. Colonel Holt will assist the frontier inhabitants in erecting block (page 46) houses in suitable places and adopt any mode he may think best for the protection of the frontier and the continuance of the settlements."
The men were encamped at Adauis' prairie, near Hole's Creek. Daniel C. Cooper was born in Morris County, New Jersey, November 20, 1773. He and one brother constituted the whole family. Mr. Cooper came to Cincinnati about 1793, as agent for Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, who was interested in the Symmes purchase. He obtained employment as a surveyor, and his business gave him an opportunity to examine lands and select valuable tracts for himself. Little is known of his history for the first year or two after he came to Ohio. In 1794 and 1795 he accompanied the surveying parties led by Colonel Israel Ludlow through the Miami valley. As a preparation for the settlement of Dayton, lie, by the direction of the proprietors, in September, 1795, marked out a road from FortHamilton to the month of MadRiver, cutting a narrow track through the brush, so that horses -and wagons could pass over it. During the fall and winter he located one thousand acres of fine land near and in Dayton. In the summer of 1796 he settled here, building a cabin at the southeast corner of Monument Avenue and Jefferson Street.
About 1798 he moved out to his cabin, on his farm south of Dayton. Here, in the fall of 1799, he built a distillery, "corn cracker" mill, and a saw mill, and made other improvements.
He married about 1803 Mrs. Sophia Greene Burnet, a young and very beautiful woman. She was born in Rhode Island in 1780. Her father, Charles Greene, was a member of the Ohio Company, and emigrated with his family to Marietta in 1788. G. W. Burnet, Mrs. Cooper's first husband, was a young Cincinnati lawyer, a brother of Judge Jacob Burnet, who died suddenly in 1801 by the roadside, of consumption, while traveling on horseback to Marietta, with his wife and Thomas Ewing, afterwards United States Senator and Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Cooper had several children, but all died young, except David Zeigler, born November 8, 1S12. IIe died December 4,1836, leaving a widow, but no children.
St. Clair, Dayton, Wilkinson, and Ludlow, on account of Symmes' inability to complete his purchase from the United States, and the high price charged by the government for land, were obliged to relinquish their MadRiver purchase. Soon after the original proprietors retired, Mr. Cooper purchased preemption rights, and made satisfactory arrangements with land owners. Many interests were involved, and the transfer was a work of time. He was intelligent and public spirited, and to his enlarged views, generosity, integrity, and business capacity much of the present (page 47) prosperity of the city is due. lie induced settlers to conic to Dayton by donations of lots, gave lots and money to schools and churches, provided ground for county buildings, graveyard, and a public common, now known as Library Park, and built the only mills erected in Dayton during the first ten years of its history.
He sold his mills and farm south of town to Colonel Robert Patterson in 1804, and from that date till his death lived in his "elegant mansion of hewn logs," on the southwest corner of First and Ludlow streets. Mr. Cooper was a very prominent and influential man in the State. In 1804, and again in 1807 and 1813, he was elected a member of the house of legislature. In 1808, 1809, 1815, and 1816, he was elected State senator.
He was appointed justice of the peace for DaytonTownshipOctober 4, 1799, and served till May 1, 1803, the date of the formation of the county.In 1810 and 1812 he was president of the select council of Dayton. After he sold his farm and mills to Colonel Patterson, he built, in 1805, a saw mill on First Street, near Sears, and four and fulling mills at the head of Mill Street in 1805 and 1809. In 1812 he built a saw mill on Fifth Street, which stood till 1847. In 1806 he built one of the first two brick stores erected in Dayton, and opened a stock of goods therein partnership with John Compton.
When he died his affairs were somewhat involved, but by prudent and conscientious management of his property, the executors, H. G. Phillips and James Steele, relieved the estate from embarrassment, and it henceforth steadily increased in value. Every improvement of this large property benefited the city.
Mr. Cooper died July 13, 1818. His death is said to have been the result of all accident. A large bell, ordered for the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Second and Ludlow streets, in which he was much interested, having arrived at his store, on the corner of Main and First streets, he put it in a barrow and wheeled it himself to the newly-erected building. The exertion was too much for his strength, and he ruptured a blood vessel. A few years after Mr. Cooper's death, his widow married General Fielding Loury, of Dayton. They had one son, named for his father, who served as a major in the army during the rebellion and was afterwards postmaster of Dayton. Mrs. General Loury died May 17, 1826. Robert Edgar was born at Staunton, AugustaCounty, Virginia, February 8, 1770. He settled in Dayton in 1796, a few weeks after the founders of the town arrived. September 17, 1798, he married Mrs. Margaret Gillespie Kirkwood. She was a native of Philadelphia and was born April 6, 1772.
(page 48) Mr. Edgar located eighty acres of land in section 33, now the southwest corner of MadRiver township. Part of it is now within the corporation, at the south end of Wayne Street. He went to housekeeping in a cabin on the southwest corner of Monument Avenue and Mill Street, but after a year or two moved on his farm. Though he engaged in farming, as he had a good deal of mechanical ingenuity he often obtained profitable employment at the Cooper and Robinson mills. In 1805 he moved to town and built a grist mill for D. C. Cooper at the head of Mill Street. He ran it for a few months, but returned to his farm at the close of the winter of 1806.
In 1812 Robert Edgar served as a soldier in a MontgomeryCounty company of mounted rangers. His sword, now in the possession of his son, John F. Edgar, is an interesting relic of the war. During his absence, the whole burden and responsibility of the management of the farm and their four children rested on his wife, who had the industry, resolution, and hopeful courage of the typical pioneer woman. Mr. and Mrs. Edgar were, from its inauguration in 1800, which he was active in promoting, members of the First Presbyterian Church.
He had a large family, but only five lived beyond childhood. Jane Ellen Edgar married Augustus George; Robert Andrew married Catharine Iddings; Samuel D. married Minerva Jones; John F. married Efie A. Rogers.