Dayton Incorporated-Form of Government--Taxation to Pay Town Expenses Voted Down-New Settlers--Colonel Robert Patterson-McCullum's Tavern First Brick Building--Used as a Court House--Dayton Library Society-First Great Flood-Levees--Jonathan Harshman-Licenses--Ferries-Cooper's New Plat of Dayton-Public Square in the Center of Third and Main Street Crossing--Brick Court House -First Brick Stores--Four General Merchandise Stores--Country Produce Taken Instead of Cash--Difficulty of the Trip East for Goods--Trouble in Collecting Debts --Mode of Bringing Merchandise to Dayton-Trains of Pack Horses-Dayton Academy-John Folkerth-New Roads Opened--Miserable Condition of Roads-First Brick Private Residence-Advertisements of Business Alen in the Repertory -Troop of Light Dragoons--Taverns--Dr. Welsh--Dr. Elliott-First Drug Store-Abram Darst-Revised Town Plat-Fourth of July, 1809-First Political Convention --Navigation of the Miami, 1809-1828--Keelboats Between Dayton and Lake Erie-Flatboating to New Orleans--First Book Published in Dayton-Fourth of July, 1810--Oration by Joseph H. Crane-Militia Drill--Shakers Mobbed -Political Animosity-Two Public Dinners, July 4, 1811-Earthquakes-Prosperity of Town, 1812-1813.
FEBRUARY 12, 1805, the legislature incorporated the town of Dayton. The town government consisted of seven trustees, a collector, supervisor, and marshal, elected by free-holders, who had lived in Dayton six months. A president, who acted as mayor, and a recorder were to be chosen by the trustees from their own number, and they were also to elect a treasurer who need not be a member of their hoard. The board of trustees was called "the select council of the town of Dayton." The first election under the act of incorporation occurred on the first Monday
in May, 1805.
Expenditures were authorized and voted at meetings of the freeholders and householders of the town till 1812-1814, when this section of
the law was repealed. For ten years meetings of council were held at the houses of members. A fine of twenty-five cents was imposed on a councilman for being thirty minutes late. The act incorporating Dayton provided, "that such part of the township of Dayton, in the county of Montgomery, as is included within the following limits, that is to say, beginning on the banks of the Miami, where the sectional line between the second and third sections, fifth township and seventh range intersects the same, thence east with said line to the middle of Section 33, second township, seventh range; thence north two miles, thence west to the Miami; thence down the same to the place of beginning, shall be, and the same is hereby, erected into a town corporate, which shall henceforth be known and distinguished by the name and town of Dayton."
(page 83) In 1805 the expenses of the town were seventy-two dollars, and the council proposed raising the amount by taxation. But at the meeting of voters called to decide the question, the proposition was defeated, thirteen voting in favor of taxation and seventeen against it. An ordinance was passed forbidding the running of hogs and other animals at large on the streets of the town, in September, 1806, but was not enforced till the spring of 1807. A measure so far in advance of the times would not have been adopted but for the fact that few farms or town lots were fenced, and horses, cattle, and hogs wandered about without restraint of any kind.
A large number of valuable citizens, principally from New Jersey, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Ohio company's settlements in Washington County, were added to the population in from 1804-1808. In 1804, Colonel Robert Patterson, famous as an Indian fighter, and as one of the founders of Cincinnati and Lexington, arrived from Kentucky. His biography will be given elsewhere in this history.
In 1805 McCullum's tavern, which was the first brick building erected in Dayton, was built on the southwest corner of Main and Second streets. It was two stories high, and was the best house in the village. A bell in the belfry, on the Second Street side of the roof, called regular and transient boarders to meals. Breakfast was served before daylight. On the sign, after 1812, was painted a picture of the capture of the British frigate Guerriere by the American frigate Constitution. A highly colored engraving of this naval battle was a favorite ornament for Ohio parlors at that date.
About 1870 the house ceased to be used as a tavern, but by lowering the floors and other changes, the rooms were adapted for business. It was used as a business block till 1880, when it was torn down, and the Farmer's InsuranceBuilding erected on the site.
The county court, for the fall terns of 1805, was held at McCullum's tavern instead of, as formerly, at Newcom's, the commissioners having contracted with McCullum for the use of as much of his house, when completed, as would be needed for holding the courts. They paid him twenty-five dollars per annum.
In the spring of 1805, the Dayton Library Society was incorporated by the legislature.
March, 1805, is noted as the date of the first great flood that occurred here after the settlement of the town. John W. Van Cleve gave the following interesting account of this food in an address on the " Settlement and Progress of Dayton," delivered before the Dayton Lyceum August 27, 1833, and published in the Journal:
(page 84) "In the spring of 1805 Dayton was inundated by an extraordinary rise of the river. In all ordinary freshets, the water used to pass through the prairie at the east side of the town, where the basin now is, but the flood of 1805 covered a great portion of the town itself. There were only two spots of dry land within the whole place. The water came out of the river at the head of Jefferson Street, and ran down to the common at the east end of Old Market. Street, in a stream which a horse could not cross without swimming, leaving an island between it and the mill. A canoe could be floated at the intersection of First Street with St. Clair, and the first dry land was west of that point. The western extremity of that island was near the crossing of Main and First streets, from whence it bore down in a southern direction towards where the saw mill now stands, leaving a dry strip from a point on the south side of Main Cross Street, between Jefferson Street and the prairie, to the river bank at the head of Main Street. Almost the whole of the land was under water, with the exception of those two islands,- from the river to the hill which circles round south and east of town, from MadRiver to the Miami. The water was probably eight feet- deep in Main Street, at the court house, where the ground has since been raised several feet.
"In consequence of the flood, a considerable portion of the inhabitants became strongly disposed to abandon the present site of the town, and the proposition was made and urged very strenuously that lots should be laid of upon the plain upon the second rise on the southeast of the town, through which the Waynesville road passes, and that the inhabitants should take lots there in exchange, for those which they owned upon the present plat, and thus remove the town to a higher and more secure situation. The project, however, was defeated by the unyielding opposition of some of the citizens, and it was no doubt for the advantage and prosperity of the place that it was.
"Sometime afterwards a levee was raised across the low ground at the grist mill, to prevent the passage of the water through the prairie in freshets; but not being built with sufficient strength and elevation, the floods rose over it and washed it away several times, until at length it
was made high and strong enough to resist the greatest rises of water that have occurred since 1805, although one like the one of that year would still pass over it. The last time it was washed away was in August, 1814."
At an early day a levee was built by Silas Broadwell to protect the western part of the town from the overflow of the annual freshets. The levee began at Wilkinson Street, and ran west a considerable distance (page 85) with the meanderings of the Miami. Mr. D. C. Cooper agreed to give Silas Broadwell certain lots in the vicinity of the levee in payment for building and keeping it in repair.
In the summer of 1805, Jonathan Harshman, one of the earliest settlers of MontgomeryCounty, arrived in Dayton from Frederick County, Maryland, and purchased a farm five miles from town. He was for many years profitably engaged in farming, milling, and distilling, and made a large fortune. He also had a store in Dayton, in partnership with John Rench. They traded for country produce, which they sent down the river to Cincinnati and New Orleans. In 1825 he was elected a member of the Ohio legislature. In 1845 he was elected president of the Dayton bank and served till his death, March 31, 1850. February 18, 1808, he married Susannah Rench, daughter of John Rench. His wife died December 5, 1839. They had eight children, all of whom married and settled in this neighborhood. Elizabeth married Israel Huston; Catharine married Valentine Winters; Jonathan married Abigail Hivling; Mary married George Gorman; Joseph married Caroline Protzman; George W. married Ann Virginia Rohrer; Susannah married Daniel Beckel; Reuben married Mary Protzman. The sons were largely engaged in business, and the husbands of the daughters became wealthy and prominent citizens.
John Rench, the brother-in-law and partner of Jonathan Harshman, was for many years one of the most active and enterprising business men of Dayton, and did much to promote the prosperity of the town. His descendants are numerous in Dayton and highly respected. Ferry rates were fixed by the county commissioners in June, 1805, as follows: For each loaded wagon and team, seventy-five cents; for each empty wagon and team, fifty cents; for each two-wheel carriage, thirty-seven and a half cents; for each man and horse, twelve and a half cents; for each foot person, six and a quarter cents.
Doctors and lawyers were required to pay a license fee of three dollars each; taverns, nine dollars. The next year ferry rates were advanced and licenses were increased one dollar. There were two ferries over the Miami at Dayton; one at the foot of First Street, at the old ford on the road to Salem, and another at the foot of Fourth Street, on the road to Germantown. The First Street Ferry was used till 1819, when a bridge was built.
In 1804 Mr. D. C. Cooper made a larger plat of Dayton than that of 1802; but though submitted for record September 9th, it was not recorded until November 29, 1805. The plat of 1805 provided for a public square at the crossing at Main and Third Streets. The center of (page 86) the crossing was fixed as the center of the square, and at that point a court house was to be built.
June, 1805, the county commissioners advertised in Cincinnati and Lexington, Kentucky, papers for proposals for building a brick court house at Dayton, forty-two by thirty-eight feet in size, and two stories high. February 3, 1806, the contract was let. Though not finished, it was occupied in the winter of 1807. It stood on the present court house lot instead of, as had been contemplated in Mr. Cooper's plat, in the center of the Main and Third Street crossing. It contained jury rooms in the second story and a court room on the first floor. In 1815 a cupola was
added, in which in 1816 a bell was hung. Curwen says that the building, as first completed, was but of one story. It was removed about the year 1847.
In 1806 D. C. Cooper built a brick store room on the northeast corner of Main and First streets, and entering into partnership with John Compton, opened a stock of goods there. The same year James Steele, who since November 12, 1805, had been in partnership in Dayton with William McClure, built a brick store of two stories on the southeast corner of Main and First streets. November 30, 1807, McClure and Steele dissolved partnership. Mr. Steele, on the 2d of December, 1807, entered into partnership with Joseph Peirce, and they continued the business of general merchandising together in " his new brick house, opposite John Compton's store," till Mr. Peirce's death, in 1822. This building remained without alteration till 1865, when it was removed, and Turner's opera house, which was burned in 1869, erected on the site. The building of Cooper's and Steele's stores drew business from the river bank towards the center of town. Brown & Sutherland, and 11. G. Phillips also had stores on Main Street.
The Dayton merchants kept a miscellaneous stock of articles, selling dry goods, groceries, medicines, stationery; almanacs, which were in great demand, books, gueensware, glass, hardware, iron, nails, and castings. When cash payments could not be obtained, wheat, rye, corn-fed pork, corn, or other merchantable produce, "suitable for the Orleans market," was taken in payment, if delivered in time for the spring trip south by flatboat. Mechanics were willing to receive similar articles in payment for their labor, if delivered before the work was taken away from the shop. Until as late is 1840 all merchants kept bottles of wine and whisky on their counters, from which customers were expected to help themselves. Hitching posts and feed boxes were always provided in front of the stores.
Every spring the merchants went to Philadelphia to buy goods. The (page 87) journey was usually made on horseback over rough, unimproved roads and occupied a month. The streams were not bridged, and were difficult especially during high water, to cross. "' Is he a good swimmer?' was a common question when a mail was trying to sell a customer a horse." The way occasionally lay for miles through uninhabited woods with no protection for horse or traveler in bad weather but the overhanging branches of a tree, in which the rider, having secured his animal, sometimes climbed for the night, or perhaps he took refuge under a fallen tree top. All travelers carried arms. Women and children, who emigrated to Ohio, or who visited the East at this period, usually traveled on horseback. Babies were sometimes "carried in a net swung round the father's neck and rested on the pommel of the saddle." A led horse sometimes carried the clothes of the traveler, but they were generally packed in saddle bags, which were swung across the back of his horse. Often the unbeaten bridle path at the western end of the journey was difcult to follow, as it was merely a narrow track marked by blazed trees. They frequently camped in the woods, often, fearing otherwise to lose their bearings, close to the path. To keep of wild animals, fires were built at night, but what was a protection against one savage foe sometimes attracted the attention of roving bands of Indians, who were even more dangerous to encounter than panthers or wolves. Often the trip between Pittsburg and Cincinnati was made in a flatboat, and part of the journey was sometimes by. wagon, but there were no public conveyances. Such appeals as the following, from merchants preparing to make the annual trip across the mountains, frequently appear in the Dayton Repertory: “expects to start to Philadelphia in a very few weeks, and will be very much in want of cash. Any persons in his debt are called upon to make payment before the last day of March. He will receive in payment fur, beeswax, or tallow." Merchandise for Dayton stores was brought across the Alleghany mountains from Philadelphia to Pittsburg in huge Conestoga wagons drawn by horses, wearing red yokes hung with jingling bells to warn travelers through the narrow mountain passes of their approach. At Pittsburg the goods were loaded on flatboats, popularly known as broad horns, and floated down to Cincinnati, from whence they were usually poled up the Miami to Dayton in keel boats. They were often brought on pack horses, which was a quicker mode of transit than by water. It was a common sight to see these long "line teams," often of a dozen horses tied together in single file, the leader wearing a bell and each animal carrying two hundred pounds, moving up Main Street to unload at one of the four stores. A train of this length was accompanied by three or four men equipped with rife, (page 88) ammunition, axe, and blanket. The game in the woods supplied themwith food. Men were stationed at each end of the file to take care of the leader and hind horse, keep the train going and watch over the goods. Sometimes the train was made up of loose horses taught by long experience and service to follow each other without being fastened together. At night during the journey up the valley, bells were attached to the necks of all the horses, and they were turned loose to graze till morning. In July, 1806, Mr. Crane, of Lebanon, endeavored to establish a newspaper here. After issuing a few numbers, he was attacked with ague, and, in consequence of this illness, abandoned his project and returned to Lebanon. No file of the paper has been preserved, and even it's name is, forgotten.
In 1807 the DaytonAcademy was incorporated by the legislature. The corporators were James Welsh, Daniel C. Cooper, William McClure, George F. Tennery, John Folkerth, and James Hamer. William M. Smith was the first teacher. In 1808 a brick school house was built by subscription on the west side of St. Clair, near Third Street. Mr. D. C. Cooper presented the bell and two lots. During the winter of 1807 and 1808 a debating club was formed. Its meetings and also spelling matches, which were very popular entertainments, were held in the school house for several winters.
John Folkerth, who was one of the incorporators of the academy, came here from Baltimore among the earliest settlers. Soon after his arrival, he was elected magistrate, which position he held for more than forty years. In 1829, under the amended town charter, he was elected first mayor of Dayton. He was a man of sterling integrity, and a great reader of good books. He was one of the founders of the Dayton Library Association, the first library incorporated by the Ohio legislature. In the early history of the town, much the largest part of the deeds were drawn by him, and no doubt his distinct but peculiar chirography is familiar to many of our citizens. Quiet and unobtrusive in his manner, he was held in the highest esteem by those who knew him best. Four of his children are living in Dayton: Russell, who is engaged in business at the advanced age of eighty-three years; Mrs. William Atkin, and Rebecca and Margaret.
March 1, 1807, by the formation of MiamiCounty, MontgomeryCounty was reduced to the territory now within both Montgomery and Preble counties.
This year roads were opened from Dayton to Piqua, New Lexington, Salem, Greenville, Xenia, Germantown, Lebanon, Franklin, and Miamisburg. Most of these roads were very narrow and cut up into (page 89) deep wagon ruts, and were not much improved till 1839. A bridle path was, in the winter of 1810-1811, contracted for and cut through from Dayton to Vincennes, a distance of two hundred miles. The same winter the State Road, known as the "old corduroy road," which was almost impassable in winter or bad weather, was built, and rail east and west through the town. Mud holes and low places were filled with poles, which floated, and through which horses' feet would sink. Travelers were often delayed for hours by such accidents to their horses. All roads were neglected till 1812, when those from Franklin to Staunton through Dayton, the road south to Lebanon, and the river road from the foot of Fourth Street, Dayton to Alexandersville, which were military roads, were kept iii tolerable repair by the quartermaster's department of the army.
At the fall election of 1808 one hundred and ninety-six votes were cast at the Dayton court house.
This year Henry Brown erected a two-story brick dwelling on the west side of Main Street, on the alley between Second and Third streets.
This was the first brick private residence built in Dayton. It was occupied till 1863 as a dwelling, and from then till it was torn down as the Journal office.
The first number of the Dayton Repertory, a weekly four-page newspaper, was issued September 18, 1808, by William McClure and George Smith. It was printed with old style type on a second-hand press, brought here from the East, and on paper eight by twelve and one half inches in size, two columns on a page. October 21st, when five numbers had been issued, the paper was suspended till February 1, 1809, when it was reissued as a twelve by twenty sheet, Henry Disbrow and William McClure editors. During the suspension, the office was removed to the south side of Second, between Main and Jefferson streets. The price of the paper was two dollars per year. About the first of January, 1810, it was discontinued. It, contained very few local items, but was principally occupied with European news several months old. The advertisements and a few marriage or death notices constitute its chief interest for us. A file is preserved in the Dayton Public Library. As the advertising columns of a newspaper usually furnish a vivid picture of a town or city, a sketch of the advertisements found in the repertory of 1808 may give its a glimpse of Dayton at that date. It contains the advertisements of John Compton, II. G. Phillips, and Steele & Peirce, merchants; John Dodson, carpenter; John Manna, weaving establishment, south end of Main Street; John and Archibald Burns, sickle factory; John Strain & Company, nail factory, southwest side of (page 90) Main, between Monument Avenue and First Street; James Beck, blue dying establishment - cotton dyed at seventy-five cents per pound, linen or woolen at sixty-two and a half cents. David Steele had a cooper shop on First Street, near St. Clair. Thomas Nutt carried on the tailoring business in all its branches, doing work "oil the most reasonable terms and at the shortest notice."
In each number of the Repertory is found the advertisement of Matthew Patton, cabinet-maker, showing that he had something of the modern enterprise in this respect. He lived to old age in Dayton, always bearing an excellent reputation. His son, Captain William Patton, has filled the offices of sheriff of MontgomeryCounty, and captain of the Dayton police.
Paul D. Butler advertises his house for sale in 1808, which he describes "as large and commodious, and will answer for almost any business; good well and pump at the door; frame stable." In May, 1809, Henry Disbrow, now one of the editors of the Repertory, advertises two lots and "an elegant two-story frame house, forty-five feet front and twenty-four feet back; a good kitchen adjoining; good well of water at the door; good nail factory and stable; situation good for either tavern or store; post and rail fence." He offers to take in pay instead of cash, "such produce as will suit the Orleans market."
March 20th the troop of Light Dragoons are requested through the Repertory "to meet at Colonel Grimes' tavern on Saturday, the 1st of April, at A. M., in complete uniform; George Grove, first sergeant." D. C. Cooper informs the farmers that he is prepared to card wool. The publishers of the Repertory advertise for sale at their office for cash or clean. rags, stationery and school books, Kentucky Preceptors, Webster's spelling books, Murray's first book for children, and primers. Apprentices, with reputable connections and of good moral character, are several times advertised for by business men. They did not always prove submissive to their masters. On December 10, 1810, H. D. Disbrow offers through the columns of the Centinal the reward of one cent to any person who will return his runaway apprentice lad.
The only accident reported in the Repertory is the drowning of an unknown man in MadRiver, June 30, 1809. There were three taverns in Dayton in 1808-McCullum's, Grimes', and Reid's, though the latter was called Reid's inn. Colonel Reid gave notice in the Repertory that, though he should no longer keep a tavern at his house on Main Street, he would open a house of entertainment there. The change was made to avoid paying the tavern license of ten dollars. Reid's inn was a two-story frame building with a belfry and stood on the west side of Main Street, at (page 91) the corner of the alley between First and Second streets. In a square frame on a post, which stood on the edge of the sidewalk, swung his sign on which at a later date than this was painted the portrait of Commodore Lawrence and a scroll with his last words, "Don't give up the ship."
Below hung the small sign, Reid's Inn.
Grimes' tavern was a log building, one and a half stories high, with a log barn and feed yard on the alley back of it. It stood on the south corner of the first alley on Main Street, south of Monument Avenue. Several frame additions were built to the tavern some years later, and the large dining-room of the house became the popular place for dances and balls.
Dayton had now become an enterprising little town. The taverns, stores, pack-horses, and flatboats were doing a good business. Roads were opened to the surrounding settlements. There were three doctors, a minister, a school teacher, and a lawyer, Joseph H. Crane, living in town. A biography of Joseph H. Crane appears in the chapter on the "Bench and Bar." The west side of Main Street, as far as the alley north of the court house, and a square or two on First Street, east and west of Main, were occupied by residences. The streets were not graveled, and no pains were taken to keep the sidewalks in order. The fences were usually stake-and-rider, though a few were post and rail. The Dayton physicians in 1808 and 1809 were Rev. James Welsh, M. D.; Dr. John Elliott, Dr. William Murphy, and Dr. P. Wood. Dr. Welsh had practiced medicine here and kept a supply of drugs since his settlement in Dayton, in 1804, as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.
December 7, 1809, he opened a drug store. Ile advertised a long list of fresh drugs and medicines. Over his signature in the Repertory, February 20, 1809, lie prints the following spicy address to delinquent patients. We wonder whether his parishioners were as dilatory in paying for his spiritual as for his medical ministrations:
" TAKE NOTICE!
"I must pay my debts. To do this is impracticable unless those who are indebted to me pay hm what they owe. All such are once more and for the last time called on to come forward and make payment before the 25th of March next, or, disagreeable as it is, compulsory measures may be certainly expected."
Dr. William Murphy, who had practiced medicine here for two or three years, died March 1, 1809.
Dr. John Elliott also died this year. lie had been a surgeon in the (page 92) United States Army during the Revolution, and also in the West under St. Clair and Wayne, and was mustered out with his regiment in 1802. Dr. Drake, a distinguished Cincinnati physician, says of Dr. Elliott, in an "Address on Pioneer Physicians," delivered in Cincinnati: "In the summer of 1804 I saw him in Dayton, a highly accomplished gentleman in a purple silk coat, which contrasted strangely with the surrounding thickets of brush and high bushes." The "purple silk coat" appears rather bizarre when contrasted with the subdued colors now worn by gentlemen; but high colors were the fashion in the time of the Revolution and for some time afterward.
Dr. Elliott practiced medicine here for several years, and was highly esteemed. He died March 26, 1809, and was buried with martial honors.
His remains were accompanied to the burying ground by Captain Steele's troop of horse, and Captain Butler's company of infantry, together with the clergy of the neighborhood and a large concourse of people from town and country, and of the latter to some considerable distance. An appropriate address was delivered at the grave by one of the ministers. The Repertory contains a long eulogistic obituary of Dr. Elliott. He was a great loss, socially and professionally, to the community. His wife died before he came to Dayton. He had two daughters; Julia, who married Joseph H. Crane, and Harriet, who married Joseph Peirce. They were prominent and useful pioneer ladies.
April 9, 1809, the Repertory contains the advertisement of Dr. P. Wood. He opened in Reid's inn an office and a drug store for the sale of "medicine in the small," which was the first apothecary's shop established here.
One of the earliest settlers was Abram Darst, who was born in FranklinCounty, Virginia, July 25, 1782; came to Dayton in 1805, and was at the date we have now reached, and for many years afterwards engaged in business here. He was a man of sterling integrity, highly esteemed by the community, and occupied many positions of trust and importance. His wife was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, April 2, 1787, and came to Dayton in 1807. Mr. Durst died February 9, 1865. His wife lived to be ninety-five years old, dying December 12, 1882. Mrs. Darst was a typical pioneer woman, full of energy and gifted with the faculty of taking care of a large household and at the same time assisting her husband in his business, as was the custom in Dayton at that day. Many a lesson of cheerfulness, patience, industry, and thrift might be learned from the laborious but contented lives of the wives of the founders of Dayton, could their biographies be given at length. One of our old merchants attributed his success largely to the assistance of his wife, and (page 93) what was true of her was true of many others. Mr. and Mrs. Darst had ten children: Julia, Christina, Mary, Sarah, Phebe, Martha, Napoleon B., John W., Samuel B., and Alfred Britain. The daughters all married prominent business men. Julia married James Perrine; Christina married W. B. Dix; Mary married Jacob Wilt; Sarah married W. C. Davis; Martha married George M. Dixon. Napoleon B. Darst married Susanna, daughter of Valentine Winters.
In 1809 Mr. Cooper made a revised plat of the town which conformed to deeds and patents, and to the plat made by St. Clair and his associates in 1795. The present town plat is essentially that of 1809, though large additions have been made.
On the 4th of July, 1809, the people had a grand celebration. There was a procession of militia and citizens from the town and vicinity which formed on the river bank at the head of Main Street and marched to the
court house, where they listened to appropriate singing and an oration. At the close of the exercises the procession reformed and marched to the house of Henry Disbrow, where an elegant dinner was served, tickets costing fifty cents. A number of patriotic toasts were drunk. Salutes were fired by the Dayton company of infantry, commanded by Captain Paul. D. Butler, and by Captain James Steele's troop of Light Dragoons. Benjamin Van Cleve, Owen Davis, and William M. Smith were the committee of arrangements. They had various sports and games in the afternoon and a dance in the evening.
This year an ordinance of the select council ordered all males of twenty-one years old and upwards, resident within the corporation, and who had lived in the State three months, and were not a township charge, and not physically incapable, to work for two days every year on the streets and roads under the direction of a supervisor, the penalty of disobedience to the order being a fine of one dollar.
September 6, 1809, the first MontgomeryCounty political convention was held at the court house. David Reid was moderator; Benjamin Van
Cleve, clerk. The nominations were as follows: For representatives in State legislature, Joseph H. Crane, MontgomeryCounty; David Purviance, PrebleCounty; for sheriff, Jerome Holt; coroner, David Squier; commissioner, John Folkerth. Six hundred votes were cast at the election and the whole of this ticket was elected. On the 9th a second convention had been held, and opposition candidates for sheriff and commissioner nominated. David Purviance, in a letter to William McClure, dated Chillicothe, December 29, 1809, makes the following allusion to his
colleague: "Mr. Crane is the only lawyer who is a member of the house of representatives. He conducts with prudence, and is in good repute as (page 94) a member." Isaac G. Burnet was president of the select council this year, and John Folkerth, recorder.
The Great Miami was navigable, both above and below Dayton, during the greater part of the year for keel-boats, which were built like canal boats, only slighter and sharper, as well as for flatboats till about 1820, when the numerous mill dams, that had by that time been erected, obstructed the channel. From that date till 1829, when the canal was opened, freighting south by water, except what was done in flatboats during floods, was almost abandoned. That some conception of the extent and value of the boating interest during this period may be formed, all the facts in regard to it that have been collected will be given in this place, though the account will extend to a date several years in advance of the other events related in this chapter.
The boats were often loaded with produce, taken in exchange for goods, work, or even for lots and houses, for business men, instead of having money to deposit in bank. or to invest, were frequently obliged to send cargoes of articles received in place of cash, south or north for sale. Cherry and walnut logs and lumber were brought down the river by rafts. The flatboatmen sold their boats when they arrived at New Orleans, and buying a horse, returned home by land. Flatboats were "made of green oak plank fastened by wooden pins to a frame of timber, and caulked with tow or any other pliant substance that could be procured," and were inclosed and roofed with boards. They were only used in descending streams, and floated with the current. Lou-, sweeping oars fastened at both ends of the boat, worked by men standing on the deck, were employed to keep it in the channel, and in navigating difficult and dangerous places in the river.
The Dayton Repertory for May 24, 1809, contains the first notice of a Dayton flatboat published here. It says: "A flat-bottomed boat, owned by Mr. John Compton, of this place, descended the Miami yesterday. She was loaded with pork, four, bacon, and whisky, and destined for FortAdams." Mr. Compton's boat got safely through to the Ohio, though, on account of low water and changes in the channel of the river, at Hamilton navigation was considered dangerous. Other flatboats also made the trip this year, but it took there two or three weeks to reach the mouth of the Miami. The Repertory, noticing the safe passage of Mr. Compton's boat, says: "Notwithstanding the representations made of the danger in navigating the Great Miami, we are well convinced that nothing is wanting but care and attention to take our boats with safety from this place."
During this year and the next there was much complaint that the (page 95) Miami, Mad River, and Stillwater had become so obstructed with brush dams and fish baskets as to impede navigation, and a petition was presented to the legislature praying that Mad River might be declared a public highway, and that the channel of the Great Miami so far as the mouth of Stony Creek, be declared a state road, and that a part of the three per cent fund set apart by government for the improvement of highways, be appropriated to the opening thereof. An effort was also made to have the channel of Stillwater declared a public highway.
Fish baskets, of which frequent mention is made in the newspapers of the day, were made by building a dam on the riffles so as to concentrate the water at the middle of the river, where an opening was made into a box constructed of slats and placed at a lower level than the dam. Into this box the fish ran, but were unable to return. A basket of this kind remained on the rifle at the foot of First Street as late as 1830: Paul D. Butler, on the 21st of August, 1809, gives notice in the Repertory of his intention to navigate the Great Miami from Dayton to the mouth of Stony Creek as soon as the season will permit, and forewarns all persons obstructing the navigation by erecting fish baskets or any other obstructions that he is determined to prosecute those who erect them. He and Henry Disbrow soon after proceeded to build two keelboats. They were built during the winter of 1809-1810 in the street in front of the court house, and when finished were moved on rollers up Main Street to the river and launched. They ascended the Miami to the Laramie portage, which was as far as they could go. Then one of their boats was taken out of the river and drawn across to the St. Mary's. For some time this boat made regular trips on the Maumee and the other on the Miami, the portage between them being about twelve miles across. A freight line, which did a good business, was thus established between Dayton and Lake Erie by way of the Miami, Auglaize, and Maumee rivers.
The flatboating business yearly increased till 1829. Nine flatboats left the Water Street landing on May 13 and 14, 1811, for New Orleans.
They were loaded with flour, grain, salt, pork, whisky, and pelts. All the boats arrived safely at their destination except one which was wrecked at a point twelve miles down the river. A private letter dated DaytonMarch 28, 1812, says: "We had a snow storm on Sunday last, eight inches deep, but as it went of immediately it did not swell the river sufficiently to let Phillips' and Smith's boats out." Boats usually started when the spring freshet had raised the Miami.
Shipments were generally made from Broadwell's old red warehouse, at the head of Wilkinson Street, which was a busy, bustling place when (page 96) the boatmen were hurrying their cargoes on board, in order to get awaywhile the food was at its Height. The red warehouse itself was floated off in the freshet of 1828. Boats built up the river lauded and tied up at Dayton to join those built Here, and they all proceeded south in a fleet. The trip to the Ohio usually occupied about a week, and it often took six or ten weeks more for the remainder of the voyage to New Orleans. Sometimes groceries were brought by river from New Orleans to Cincinnati, and then in wagons to Dayton. Some of the difficulties and delays of the upward trip are described in the following letter, addressed to Steele & Peirce by Baum & Perry, Cincinnati, December 29, 1812: We have just had the arrival of our barge from New Orleans. She was delayed at the falls for nearly two weeks before she could get over, and after she got over, detained five or six days, waiting for the loading to be hauled from the lower landing to the upper, and finally had to come away with part of her cargo only, there being no wagons to be had, and ever since she left that place has been obliged to force her way for two weeks past through the ice. These are the circumstances which prevented her arriving sooner. Knowing that sugar is much wanting at' your place, have thought it advisable to load Mr. Enoch's wagon, and let it proceed to your town with that article, to wit, with six boxes weighing as follows: 438 pounds for Mr. Henry Brown; 448 pounds, Cooper & Burnet; 432 pounds, Isaac Spiling; 480 pounds, Robert Wilson; 510 pounds, Steele & Peirce; 430 pounds, Major Churchill."
The sugar was twenty cents a pound by the single box, and eighteen and three quarters cents per pound, if three boxes were taken by one person. The freightage by wagon was one dollar per hundred weight. In 1815 people began to congratulate themselves that the success of steamboats on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers was assured, and that they would enhance the value of property in the western country. Men of enterprise and capital on the Ohio River were making arrangements to import goods from Europe, by way of New Orleans, on ocean steamers. and river steamboats. The citizens of Dayton wished to share the advantage of this direct importation from Europe; otherwise they thought their Cincinnati contemporaries would grow rich, while the vast sums of money sent from along the Miami beyond the mountains to buy goods must leave them poor. The farmer could not wagon his produce to the Ohio with advantage. Tlie Miami was a public highway, and an individual had the same right to fence of one of the public roads as to impede the navigation of that stream; yet fish traps and mill dams had almost ruined the navigation of the river.
A writer in the Republican for September 4, 1815, whom we have (page 97) already quoted, says that "the wealth and increased population of the waters of the Great Miami demand immediate attention to the navigation of that stream, without which the country loses half of its value." "Will the people tamely submit to suffer a few men so essentially to injure the country? The obstructions in the river must be removed. All are interested in an object so important, and it is hoped the settlers on the waters of the Great Miami will immediately turn their attention to improving its navigation."
As a result of all this agitation of the subject, a navigation board seems to have been appointed, which met for the first time at the house of John C. Tenney, in Franklin, on the fourth Monday of May, 1816. The board consisted of the following gentlemen: William C. Schenck and William Sayre, of WarrenCounty; James Thomson and James Steele, of Montgomery; Andrew Reed and John Cox, of Greene; Jonah Baldwin and Samuel Tibbs, of Champaign; Fielding Loury and John Rogers, of MiamiCounty. All the members were urged to attend the meeting, which was evidently considered of much importance. December 30, 1817, a number of citizens of Dayton and this vicinity met at Colonel Reid's inn and formed an importing and exporting company. It was thought that such an association would be productive of much good to this neighborhood, as the navigation of the Great Miami would soon be opened and our farmers find a market for their produce just at their doors.
In March and April, 1818, seventeen hundred barrels of four for the New Orleans market were put on board boats at Dayton and at points a few miles higher up the river.
During the last week of March, 1819, eight flatboats and one handsome keel-boat loaded here, shoved of from the landing for the markets below, and several flatboats loaded with flour, pork, and whisky also passed down the Miami. This year a second line of keel-boats was established for carrying grain and produce up the Miami. At Laramie it was transferred, after a portage across the land intervening between the two rivers, to other boats and transported down the Maumee to the rapids, which was the point of transfer from river boats to lake vessels. At the rapids there was a large warehouse for storage of cargoes. In May Daytonians were gratified to see a large keel-boat, upwards of seventy feet in length and with twelve tons of merchandise on board, belonging to H. G. Phillips, and Messrs. Smith and Eaker, arrive here from Cincinnati. She was the only keel-boat that had for a number of years been brought this far up the Miami, as the river between here and its mouth had been much obstructed. The Watchman, after announcing (page 98) this arrival, says that the time is not far distant when it will not be considered a novel sight to see keel-boats and barges arrive from below, but impresses upon its readers the fact that if this anticipation is to be realized, the work of removing mill dams and other obstructions from the river, which had been begun, must be energetically continued till completed.
This year an exporting and importing association, called the "Company of Miami Farmers," was organized by citizens of MontgomeryCounty. Among the corporators were B. Van Cleve, John II. Williams, David Huston, Jerome Holt, and David Hoover.
For several days previous to the 21st of April, 1821, the Miami was very high, and a number of boats with fine cargoes of the produce of the country passed down the river.
The Watchman, in the spring of this year, contained an article expatiating on the value of the Miami River: "Another advantage which this country possesses is the ease with which its produce may be transported to New York by the improvement of the navigation of the Miami and the St. Mary's rivers. This improvement may be made at a very trifling expense… The markets of New York and New Orleans would be accessible to our produce. The spectacle will some day be presented here of water craft in a canal that shall unite the waters of Lake Erie with those of the Ohio. The scene of navigation the Miami now presents to Dayton will be then changed to the canal. It is very pleasing to anticipate the time when we shall have boats almost at our doors ready to carry us to the Gulf of Mexico, or the city of New York, and when we shall have stages passing on the National road through Dayton from the remote State of Maine to Missouri." What would the readers of the Watchman have thought had the writer of this communication added to his other prophecies the building of our innumerable lines of railways, an improvement which probably did not suggest itself to the imagination of the most sanguine Daytonian!
In 1822 for the first time the Dayton paper expresses a doubt of the possibility of navigating the Miami. It says that such is the composition of the bed of the river, and so liable is it to change, that every freshet would make it necessary to repeat the work of improvement, and the expense would be very great.
Seven flat-bottom boats and one keel-boat left here on the 16th of March, 1822, for New Orleans. It was thought that they ran great risk in starting, and that the Miami was not high enough to carry them over the mill dams. All the boats did not get safely through. As the people of the Miami valley had so far failed in securing a (page 99) canal, movements were renewed in 1824 for the navigation of the river.
They now hoped that the channel could be so much improved that steamboats might be run between Dayton and Cincinnati. A large and enthusiastic meeting was held at Reid's inn, "at early candle light," Saturday, April 24th, for the formation of a central navigation company, with branch companies throughout the Miami country. James Steele was chairman, George S. Houston secretary of the meeting. Various committees were appointed, composed of the following gentlemen: Joseph H. Crane, Alexander Grimes, George W. Smith, H. G. Phillips, William Griffin, C. R. Greene, and G. S. Houston. It was suggested that locks might easily be placed in the side of the dams that now obstructed the river, and the channel cleared and deepened, work in which the farmers would no doubt be willing to assist personally, if they could not contribute money to pay laborers.
It was estimated that a boat capable of carrying a cargo of about two hundred and fifty barrels, and drawing, when loaded, nearly three feet of water, would cost five thousand, four hundred dollars, and could pass from Dayton to Cincinnati and back during three months of the year. The remainder of the year it could be run, with profit, between Cincinnati and Pittsburg. The profits for the three months were reckoned at six thousand, four hundred and fifteen dollars, and fifty cents for freight, and nine hundred and ninety dollars for passengers. The fare would be four dollars down and five dollars up the river; deck passengers, two dollars. It was thought there would be about six passengers each trip. It was proposed to make five trips per month, each trip. requiring five or six days. But the navigation company was a failure, and the little steamboat was not purchased.
The last week in April, 1824, three flat-bottomed boats left for the New Orleans market, and another passed here from sixteen miles further north. All got through safely. One of the boats contained four hundred barrels of flour, forty of whisky, and one thousand pounds of bacon. Saturday and Sunday, March 26 and 27, 1825, were unusually exciting days in Dayton among boatmen, millers, distillers, farmers, merchants, and teamsters, as a fleet of thirty or more boats that had been embargoed here by low water left their moorings bound for New Orleans. Rain had begun to fall on Wednesday and continued till Friday, when the river rose. "The people," says the Watchman," flocked to the banks, returning with cheerful countenances, saying, ' The boats will get of On Saturday all was the busy hum of a seaport; wagons were conveying flour, pork, whisky, etc., to the different boats strung along the river. Several arrived during the day from the north. On Sunday morning others came down, (page 100) the water began to fall, and the boats carrying about forty thousand dollars worth of the produce of the country got under way." The whole value of the cargoes that left the Miami above and below Dayton during this freshet was estimated as at least one hundred thousand dollars. Some of the boats were stove and the flour damaged, but most of them passed safely to their destination.
Twelve boats left here for New Orleans in February, 1827, from Montgomery and Miami counties, chiefly loaded with flour, pork, and whisky. Their cargoes were worth about twenty thousand dollars. The river had been high and in fine boating condition for some days. A number of boats also left on the 29th of April. Two of them struck on a rock in going over the Broad Ripple and one immediately sunk. The other, belonging to Phillips and Perrino, and chiefly loaded with four, was able to proceed, though considerably injured. The editor of the Dayton paper closes his notice of this accident by saying that he believed that the loss on the river during his recollection equaled the amount required to make one sixth of the Miami canal, and that for this as well as other reasons all would rejoice to see the completion of this all important improvement.
In February, 1828, the last boat, loaded with produce for New Orleans, left here by the Miami. The next year freight began to be shipped south by canal. As late as 1836, and perhaps a year later, when the canal was opened to Piqua, the line of boats on the river to the north was continued. April 23rd a conference of ministers and laymen, which met at the house of Colonel Robert Patterson, near Dayton, requested Rev. John Thomson, in conjunction with David Purviance, Samuel Westerfield, William Snodgrass, and William McClure, to collect and arrange the hymns, and prepare for the press a book, to be called the Christian Hymn Book, containing two hundred and fifty hymns. The price was not to exceed seventy five cents a copy; it was to be printed with good type on good paper, and to be well bound. It was published at the Centinal office, Dayton, as according to a letter written by John Thomson to William McClure on May 10th, they could not "get the work done anywhere on better terms than at Mr. Burnet's." William McClure, of Dayton, received subscriptions. This was the first work printed or published in Dayton. In the summer of 1810, the Indians were encamped at Greenville. There were twenty-four hundred of them living in Ohio, though many had emigrated to the West. Five hundred and fifty-nine of them lived at Wapakoneta. Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, were uniting the Indians in the West and South in a league against the whites, and their movements were watched by Dayton people with much anxiety.
(page 101) In. 1810 D. C. Cooper was elected president of the select council and James Steele recorder.
The population of Dayton was three hundred and eighty-three; the population of the county was seven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-two. The revenue of the county for 1809-1810 was one thousand, six hundred and forty-four dollars, and fifteen cents. Curwell exultingly contrasts the small income of the county in 1810 with the ninety thousand dollars raised by taxation in 1850, which seems a small amount when contrasted with 1888, when the amount levied was one million, twenty-one thousand, four hundred and eighty dollars. In 1810 the county commissioners paid thirty dollars for wolf scalps. The next year they paid twenty-two dollars.
An ordinance, passed by council in 1810, indicates the size of the town at that date. The ordinance provided for the improvement of the sidewalks along Monument Avenue, then called Water Street, from Main to Mill Street; along First, from Ludlow to St. Clair, except the south side of First, between Jefferson and St. Clair; and on Main Street, from Monument Avenue to Third Street. The walks were ordered to be "laid with stone or brick, or to be completely graveled, and a ditch dug along the outer edge of the walks," and people were forbidden to drive over the walks, except when absolutely necessary. Fines imposed for the infringement of this ordinance were to be expended in making walks across the streets. The Ohio Centinal, which had appeared on May 10th, when Dayton had been five months without a newspaper, says, in an editorial, that there will be general rejoicing among citizens and visitors from the country on account of the passage of this law. The Centinal succeeded the Repertory, and was eleven by nine inches in size, and published weekly by Isaac G. Burnet till 1813, when it was discontinued. The editorials are remarkably interesting and well written, for the editor was a man of talent and education. Editors in. those days labored under many difficulties. In consequence of the high water in July, 1810, the eastern mail, due two or three days before, had not arrived here on the 26th, when the Centinal appeared. The same month, on account of the illness of the private post rider employed by Mr. Burnet and the impossibility of procuring another at the busy season of the year, subscribers out of town were obliged to do without their paper for two weeks.
The Fourth of July was celebrated as last year by a procession from the river to the court house, where the programme was as follows: Singing of an ode; prayer by Rev. Dr. Welsh; reading of the Declaration of Independence by Benjamin Van Cleve, and an oration. by Joseph H. (page 102)Crane. The "oration was eloquent and well adapted to the occasion."
The exercises were followed by a dinner under a bower. Seventeen toasts were drunk, and during the drinking of the toasts national salutes were fired.
Though Dayton had grown steadily since its incorporation, it was still too insignificant in 1810 to appear on the maps of the United States in school books; but the people might have consoled themselves by remembering that Cincinnati was also ignored by the map-makers. In 1810 a work called "A New System of Modern Geography," by Elijah Parish, D.D., Minister of Byfield, was published at Newburyport, Massachusetts. In this curious book, which professes to be very complete, but is full of amusing blunders and omissions, Xenia is spelled Xenica, and Dayton and the Great Miami River are not mentioned. Marietta, which was founded by New Englanders, has more space devoted to it than that given to all the other towns put together. "No considerable towns are yet reared in this vast wilderness," says Dr. Parish, in the chapter on Ohio; "Xenica, the seat of justice for the county of Greene, lies on the Little Miami, six miles from the celebrated medicinal springs, near which is a mine of copper or gold. Cincinnati is the largest town of Ohio, containing four hundred houses. The public buildings are a court house, prison, and two places of public worship. It is four hundred and ninety-three miles from Pittsburg."
On the 17th of September Colonel Jerome Holt assembled the Fifth regiment of militia at Dayton for training purposes. Militia trainings were gala occasions. Business was suspended, and crowds flocked into town to witness the drill and parade. The Dayton troop of Light Dragoons were notified in orders, signed by Henry Marquardt, second sergeant, to assemble equipped, as the law requires, at McCullum's tavern to join the regiment.
In 1811 a colony of Shakers lived in Dayton, and in May of that year they were mobbed and warned several times in insulting placards, placed on their gate-posts, to leave town or suffer the consequences. They seem to have offered no resistance to these attacks of armed men, but made a moderate and sensible reply to their assailants in the Repertory, and declined to leave Dayton. Soon after they bought a fertile tract of land a few miles southeast of town on which they built a village, where the society still lives. It is hard to believe that these inoffensive people were ever hated or feared and mobbed by their neighbors. This year the 4th of July was celebrated with more than the usual spirit. The general committee of arrangements was composed of Dr. N. Edwards, Joseph II. Crane, and Joseph Peirce.
(page 103) A sermon was preached at an early hour in the day by Rev. Dr. Welsh. After divine service the usual procession to the court house formed on the Main Street batik of the river. The Declaration of Independence was read by Joseph H. Crane, and an oration was delivered by Benjamin Van Cleve.
For many years there was little political excitement or animosity in Dayton. Members of both parties were sometimes nominated on thesame ticket. But in 1811 the opposition of the two parties to each other had become so bitter and extreme that they were unwilling to dine together on the Fourth of July as in former years, and drink patriotic toasts prepared by a committee appointed at a town meeting. Two public dinners were prepared under bowers erected for the occasion, one by Mr. Strain and the other by Mr. Graham. Each company drank seventeen toasts, expressing their political opinions, accompanied at Mr. Graham's by a discharge of small arms and ending with an eighteenth volunteer toast, which was in the spirit of those preceding it, and was as follows: " Thomas Jefferson, late President of the United States." The party at Mr. Strain's drank their toasts "under a discharge of cannon and loud and repeated cheers." The final volunteer toast, which was as follows, indicates their attitude towards the Democratic party: "May our young Americans have firmness enough to defend their rights without joining any Tammany club or society." In the afternoon the Rifle Company and the Dragoons paraded, and there was a dance in the evening. Mills, barns, still houses, and all outbuildings, other than dwellings, were in 1811 exempted from taxation. The commissioners ordered a standard half bushel. James Wilson was appointed keeper of the measures, and announces in the Centinal that he will be at his house in Dayton every Saturday to measure and seal half bushels. This fall croup, or some other throat disease called by that name, seems to have been epidemic in Dayton, and a large number of children died from it. The disease was attributed to "the sudden changes of this moist and variable climate," and the people were warned that if they would save the lives of their children, they must carefully guard there against exposure.
A comet was visible in 1811, and this, together with the series of earthquakes throughout the Ohio valley, which occurred during that and the succeeding year, and neither of which had been experienced before since the settlement of the western country, were regarded with terror by the superstitious, who considered them evil portents, and ominous of private or public misfortune.
The Centinal contains graphic accounts of the earthquakes, from (page 104) which we shall borrow largely in our description of this terrible visitation. On Monday and Tuesday, the 16th and 17th of December, 1811, the inhabitants of Dayton were kept in continual alarm by repeated shocks. The first and by far the severest shock was felt between two and on Monday morning. It was so severe as to rouse almost every person in the village from his slumbers. Some left their houses in afright, and all were terrified at the unusual phenomenon. The horses and cattle were equally alarmed, and the fowls left their roosts in great consternation. It was not preceded by the usual token of a rumbling noise. The earth must have been in a constant tremor on Monday and Tuesday. A surveyor went out on Monday for the purpose of surveying a road in the neighborhood, but being unable to get the needle to settle, he was obliged to desist. He tried it again on Tuesday, with the same effect.
Between eight and nine o'clock on Thursday morning, January 23, 1812, occurred another shock of earthquake more severe, it was generally supposed, than any of those which had preceded it. It was equally alarming at Cincinnati and other adjacent towns. Several considerable shocks followed, the most severe occurring on the morning of the 27th. It agitated the houses considerably, and articles suspended in stores were kept in motion about one minute.
About a Friday morning, February 13th, the people were again alarmed by this awful visitor. Two shocks in quick succession were felt. The rumbling noise, which is the usual precursor and attendant of earthquakes, was distinctly heard to precede and accompany both the shocks. Those who were not awake at the commencement were sensible of but one shock; but there were certainly two, though the intermission was but momentary. There was all intermission both in the noise and the agitation of the earth; not a total one, but a perceptible degree of abatement in both. The noise appeared for a few moments to be subsiding, but recommenced with increasing loudness, and continued till the second, shock was nearly or quite at its height. It was by far the most awful, both in its severity and the length of its duration, of any that had been felt in Dayton, and left an impression upon the minds of the people which many years did not erase. Persons who experienced it in youth spoke of it in old age with a shudder of horror. The motion on February 13th was from the southwest, and many thought there was also a vertical motion, and that the undulatory motion was shorter and quicker than usual. The air was cold and remarkably clear, but became hazy shortly after. Many of the inhabitants left their houses; the fowls left their roosts, and cattle and horses (pages 105) manifested the same consciousness of danger. In the evening of the same day two other shocks were felt-the first about a , and the other about . It snowed, and the night was cloudy and extremely dark. A dine light in the southwest was seen by several for some time prior to the first shock in the evening, and disappeared immediately after it.
The number of the Centinal, which describes the shocks on February 13th, contains a frightful account of the earthquake which destroyed New Madrid, on the Mississippi, and the people of Dayton, no doubt, read it with awe and dread, it being not impossible that a similar fate awaited them. All winter the newspapers were full of startling earthquake news. On the 27th of June the most violent tornado ever previously known in Ohio passed through Montgomery County about eight miles from Dayton. The physicians practicing in Dayton in 1812 were Dr. Edwards, Rev. Dr. Welsh, Dr. Charles Este, and Dr. John Steele.
This year Joseph H. Crane was elected member of congress; George Newcom was elected State senator, and Joseph Peirce representative in the legislature.
The revenue of the county for 1811-1812 was one thousand, seven hundred and forty-eight dollars, and eighty-seven cents, and the expenditures, one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-eight dollars, and sixty-six cents.
In January the government had begun to raise troops for the war with Great Britain. While the Ohio militia were encamped at Dayton, D. C. Cooper employed them in digging a race from his old saw mill to Sixth Street, at the intersection of which street with the present line of the basin he erected a saw mill which remained there till 1848. A letter written front Dayton in 1812 by a prominent merchant to his partner, who had gone east to buy goods, reports "business quite as good as could be expected. Groceries, especially coffee, are scarce in town. I think eight or ten barrels would not be too much for us if they can be purchased cheap. A good assortment of muslins to sell at twenty-five, thirty-three, thirty-seven and a half, forty-fve, and fifty cents would be desirable, and if L. Pasesoii can furnish you with them as cheap at four months as for cash, I would purchase pretty largely." Soon after the same merchant wrote to a relative that he had been so overwhelmed with business since the arrival of the troops that he had not had time to attend to leis correspondence.
Dayton prospered during the war of 1812. A great deal of money was made in regular trade and in real estate speculations. Working men and mechanics began to buy homes in the spring of 1813, and "land was platted and sold in lots up MadRiver as far as the Staunton Road ford."