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History of Dayton, Ohio 1889
Chapter Ten

(page 151)




Canal Agitation-Dinner to DeWitt Clinton-First Canal Boat Arrives-Enthusiasm of the People-Trade by Wagon to Fort Wayne-Dayton in 1827-Medical Spring Traveling Museum-First Fire Wardens-Excitement at Fires-Flood in 1825Dayton Guards-Business in 1528-Price of Properly-Temperance Society-New Market House-Rivalry Between Dayton and Cabintown-Seely's Basin-Peasley's Garden-Miniature Locomotive and Car Exhibited in the Methodist Church-Daytonians Take Their First Railroad Ride-Seneca Indians Camp in Dayton-Steele's Dam-General R. C. Schenck-Fugitive Slave Captured in Dayton-First Railroad Incorporated-Flood of 1832-Relief Sent to Cincinnati Flood Sufferers-Political Excitement-Council Cut Down a Dickson Pole-Cholera in 1832-Silk Manufactory Established--Eighth of January Barbecue-Procession of Mechanics, July 4, 1833-Taverns-Town Watchmen-Bridge Over the Miami-Lafayette Commemorative Services-Fire Guards-One Story Stone Jail Built-First Carriers' New Year’s Address-Board of Health-Fire Alarm-R. A. Thruston.


            THOUGH we shall be carried beyond the date we have now reached, it will be well to give in this chapter a full account of the canal.

            A meeting was called at Colonel Reed's inn on the evening of June 29, 1821, to appoint a committee to cooperate with committees in other places to raise means to pay for a survey of the route for a canal from Mad River to the Ohio, and to ascertain the practicability and expense of such a canal. Judge Crane was chairman of this meeting and G. S. Houston secretary. The following gentlemen were appointed to collect funds to pay for the survey: H. G. Phillips, G. W. Smith, Dr. John Steele, Alexander Grimes, and J. H. Crane.

            The law authorizing the making of a canal from Dayton to Cincinnati passed the legislature in 1825.

            On the 4th of July, 1825, Governor DeWitt Clinton, of New York, assisted at the inauguration of the Ohio canal at Newark. At a public meeting of the citizens of Dayton, James Steele and Henry Bacon were appointed a committee to wait on the governor at Newark and invite him to partake of a public dinner in their town. Resolutions were also adopted and preparations made for his reception. Mr. Steele returned from Newark on the evening of Wednesday, the 6th, and reported that the governor had accepted and would be here on Saturday. A number of gentlemen of Dayton and a detachment of the troop of horse commanded by Captain Squier met the governor at Fairfield and escorted him to town. At half past two P. M. Governor Clinton and his suite, Messrs. Jones (page 152) and Reed; Governor Morrow, Hon. Ethan A. Brown, Hon. Joseph Vance, Messrs. Tappan and Williams, canal commissioners, and Judge Bates, civil engineer, arrived at Compton's tavern, on the corner of Main and Second streets, where they were received by the citizens. Judge Crane made an address of welcome, which was responded to by Governor Clinton. About four o'clock the guests and citizens sat down to an elegant dinner prepared for the occasion at Reid's inn. Judge Crane presided, and Judge Steele and Colonel Patterson acted as vice-presidents. The dinner closed with appropriate toasts.

            The Watchman suggested in October that it would be a wise plan to run the canal, which had not yet been located, down the middle of Main Street. It stated that the channel need not be made wider than forty feet, which, if the sidewalks now sixteen and a half feet wide were reduced to twelve feet, would leave a wagon road thirty-four feet broad on either side of the water and make Main Street the handsomest street in the State. The earth taken from the canal, the Watchman asserted, would fill every hole and level every street in town. It was feared that the canal would be located a mile from the court house, which would seriously injure the town.

            The Dayton and Cincinnati canal was put under contract in 1825, and was ready for navigation early in 1829. The cost of the canal was five hundred and sixty-seven thousand dollars.

            The construction of the canal was at first "violently opposed as a ruinous and useless expenditure." But as soon as the law authorizing the expenditure was passed, and before the canal was located, the rapid improvement of Dayton and the increase in population proved the wisdom and foresight of those who since 1818 had been agitating the subject of canal improvements in the Miami valley. One of the objections against the canal urged by opponents of the project was that it could not be made to hold water. As the bed of the canal ran through loose gravel, there seemed to be force in the objection, and indeed sonic difficulty of this kind was experienced. The bottom of the canal, however, soon "puddled" and became water tight.

            The canal commissioners, on December 28, 1826, authorized Micajah T. Williams to make "the final location of that part of the Miami canal lying within the limits of the corporation of the town of Dayton." To the great satisfaction of the citizens, who had feared it would be located outside the corporation, it was located "on the common, between the saw mill race and the seminary, on St. Clair Street."

            The canal was put under contract in the spring of 1827. At the bidding for contracts there was much competition, and proposals were (page 153) by upwards of six hundred persons. The contractors began work about the first of June. The excavation at the basin between Second and Third streets was commenced on Monday, September 3d. In the evening a salute was fired in celebration of the event at the commons, now Library Park, where a large crowd was assembled. The first canal-boat built in Dayton was launched near Fifth Street on Saturday, August 16, 1828, at two Y. M. The citizens were invited to assemble at the firing of the cannon to witness the launch. The boat was called the Alpha, of Dayton, and was built for McMaken & Milton by Solomon Eversull. The Alpha was pronounced by many superior to any boat on the line of the Miami canal. As the water had not yet been let into the canal, a temporary dam was built across the canal at the bluffs, and water was turned in from the saw mill tail-race at Fifth Street. Trial trips were then made from the dam to Fifth Street and back. The Dayton Guards, the military company of boys, organized a few weeks before, made the first trip on the Alpha.

            Friday evening, September 26, 1828, water was first let into the canal by the contractors from the mill race at the corner of Fifth and Wyandot streets. Most of the water leaked out through the embankment along the river at the bluffs, in Van Buren Township, and on November 24th there was it break in the embankment at that point.

            On Wednesday, December 17th, it party of ladies and gentlemen made it trip on the Alpha to Hole's Creek. On Monday, December 22d, she took a party to Miamisburg, beyond which place the canal was not completed, returning Wednesday. Christmas there was a second excursion to Miamisburg which returned Friday. Samuel Forrer was the engineer of the Miami Canal in 1829.

            In January, 1829, citizens of Dayton were gratified with the sight, so long desired, of the arrival of canal-boats from Cincinnati. At daybreak Sunday, January 25th, the packet, Governor Brown, the first boat to arrive Here from the Ohio, reached the head of the basin. This packet was appropriately named, for since 1819 Governor Brown had been engaged in urging the connection of the two towns by means of a canal. In the afternoon the Forrer arrived, followed at dark by the Genneral Marion, and during the night by the General Pike. Each boat was welcomed by the firing of cannon and the enthusiastic cheers of it crowd of citizens assembled on the margin of the basin. The Governor Brown was henceforth to make regular trips twice a week between Dayton and Cincinnati. It was the only packet fitted up exclusively for passengers, and was handsomely and conveniently furnished. The plaster, Captain Archibald, was very popular and accommodating.  (page 154) The Alpha, which also made regular passages, was commanded by M. F. Jones, of Dayton. A part of the Alpha was prepared for passengers. A fleet of canal-boats, the Governor 13cown, Captain J. D. Archibald, master; Forcer, Captain Campbell, master; General Marion, Captain Clymer, plaster; General Pike, Captain Swain, master; accompanied by the Alpha, with a Dayton party, were to have made the first return trip to Cincinnati in company, but their departure was prevented by a break in the canal at Alexandersville.

            The people made a festival of the completion of the canal, which, they congratulated themselves, had begun a new era of prosperity for the town, and took every occasion to celebrate the event. On the evening of February 5, 1829, the canal being frozen over so that navigation was impossible, Captain Archibald, of the Governor Brown, which was embargoed by the ice at the basin, gave a handsome collation on board to a number of ladies and gentlemen. The next evening the captains of a number of boats lying in the basin partook of a canal supper at the National Hotel, and drank a number of toasts suitable to the occasion.

            On the 16th of April a steam canal-boat called the Enterprise arrived here. Two cords of wood were used in the passage from Cincinnati to Dayton. For many years it was believed that steam could be used in propelling boats on the canal, but after a fair trial it was found to be impracticable.

            Sometimes in the spring of 1829 as many as twenty-six canal-boats arrived here in a week. During the month of April seventy-one boats arrived and seventy-seven left Dayton. The number of passengers from Cincinnati and intermediate places towards Dayton was nine hundred and eighty-six. The total value of articles shipped was forty-three thousand one hundred and seventy-three dollars. The toll collected here during the year 1829 amounted to six thousand seven hundred and thirty-eight dollars and thirty-one cents. In 1831, twelve thousand forty-seven dollars and sixty-four cents, and in 1833, seventeen thousand one hundred and ninety dollars and three cents were collected. The Journal states that the number of persons traveling on the canal per week in 1832 was probably not less than one thousand, exclusive of the people employed on the boats.

            Twenty hours from Cincinnati to Dayton by canal was considered a rapid trip. Merchandise was brought here from New York by water in twenty days. The cost of freight per ton was seventeen dollars and twenty-five cents. The route was by the Eric canal to Buffalo; thence by Lake Erie to Cleveland; thence by the Ohio canal to the Ohio River, (page 155) and down the river to the Miami canal, and up the canal to Dayton-a distance of one thousand one hundred and fifty-two miles. The completion of the State canal, which ended at Second Street, was soon followed by the construction of a new basin, beginning at the terminus of the original one and extending to First Street. It was constructed by the Basin Extension Company, formed by 11. G. Phillips and James Steele, executors of the Cooper estate and others, and incorporated by the legislature February 4, 1830. Its object was to draw business to that part of town, through which it passed. The work began in the spring of 1831. The basin rail through a ten-acre lot belonging to the Cooper estate, and the portion of the ground not used for the basin, embankment, and tow-path, was laid off in lots and sold by the executors. In 1845 the work commenced some time before of extending the canal from First Street to its junction with the canal near the aqueduct was completed.

            Until the extension of the Miami canal to the north in 1841, Dayton was at the head of navigation, and supplies of every kind for this region for a long distance around were forwarded from here. A brisk trade with Fort Wayne as a distributing point was kept up, and wagon trains were constantly passing between the two points. Swaynie's tavern at the head of the basin was the favorite resort of the wagoners, and his large stable yard was nightly crowded with wagons and his tavern with the drivers. The eccentric Lorenzo Dow preached in Dayton on Friday, April 28th, at three o'clock in the afternoon and created a great sensation. The first "jubilee of the United States," commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, was celebrated July 4, 1826, by a procession from the court house, services at the brick church (First Presbyterian), a dinner at Mr. Rollman's tavern at the head of Main Street, and a picnic at the Medical Spring. The Declaration of Independence was read by John W. Van Cleve and an oration was delivered by Peter P. Lowe.

            The Watchman for July 25th is in mourning for Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the news of whose death, three weeks before on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, had just been received.

            James Perrine was appointed in June the agent of the Protection Insurance Company, of Hartford, and was the first person engaged in this business in Dayton. Mr. Perrine was just beginning his long and honorable career as a merchant in Dayton.

            Horse thieves were so troublesome in the town and country in 1826 that a public meeting was called at the court house on July 15th to devise (page 156) means for their arrest. At the meeting a society for the pursuit and capture of horse thieves was formed and very efficient work was done by the members, who were called out whenever horses were missing. This is the nearest approach to a vigilance committee we have ever had in Dayton.

            A Colonization Society was formed in Dayton November 24, 182.6. The following gentlemen were appointed a committee to solicit subscriptions to the constitution: Aaron Baker, Henry Stoddard, Luther     Bruen, O. B. Conover, and S. S. Cleveland.

            Great advantage was anticipated from a spring located near the present buildings of the St. Mary's Institute, on Brown Street. The water from the spring was copious, and contributed to the volume of water in Rubicon Creek, which in early times was a mill stream. The water was analyzed, and it was claimed that it was medicinal and equal in curative qualities to the best springs that were places of popular resort. A bath house was built, a place for refreshments opened, and a plan proposed for a hotel, which was never carried out. Although now just outside of the corporation limits, at that time it was sufficiently distant from the town to afford a pleasant drive, and during the summer months the spring was a place of resort for the Dayton people. Fourth of July celebrations and picnics were often held there. It was confidently expected that a fashionable watering place would be established and the town greatly benefited. The water proved to be simply chalybeate and all hopes of attracting public attention to the spring were abandoned.

            There were eight hundred and forty-eight voters in Dayton Township in 1827. The population within the corporation was sixteen hundred.

            George B. Holt was elected State senator this year, and Alexander Grimes and Robert J. Skinner representatives.

            This year the Baptist society, which was organized in 1824, built its first church, costing two thousand dollars, on the alley on the west side of Main Street, between Monument Avenue and First Street. In August, 1827, a traveling museum, consisting of birds, beasts, wax figures, paintings, etc., visited Dayton. One of the articles exhibited is advertised in a style worthy of Barnum, as: "That great natural curiosity, the Indian miuiliny, which was discovered and taken from the interior of a cave in Warren 'County, Kentucky, where it was probably secreted in its present state for preservation fir one thousand years." These museums, carried in cars or vans drawn by horses, traveled all over the Western country in early tinges. When they reached a town or. village, the horses were unharnessed, and the cars were (page 157) fastened together so as to make a continuous room for the display of the curiosities.

            In 1828 Henry Best opened a jewelry store. He removed in 1836 to his building on Main Street, where the business is still carried on by his son.

            Council appointed the following fire wardens in 1827: James Steele, Abram Darst, Dr, J. Raines, and Matthew Patton. The fire engine, which had been ordered from Philadelphia in 1825 at a cost of two hundred and twenty-six dollars, did not reach here till 1827. It was a small affair, and the water was thrown by turning a crank in the side of the engine. Not much care seems to have been taken of the engine, for at a fire in 1831 it could not be used, as it was filled with ice, the water not having been taken out after a fire which occurred several weeks before.

            Householders, who, as before mentioned, had not themselves procured them, were provided by the town with long black leather buckets with their flames painted in large white letters on the outside, which were used to fill the engine. The fire wardens were notified by council to meet at the engine house at two P. Ni. on May 2d for the purpose of distributing fire buckets. Freeholders wishing buckets were requested to attend. One hundred and twelve dollars and fifty cents had been expended by council in 1827 for eighty-eight buckets, half of which were to be distributed among the citizens and the rest kept at the engine house. The engine house was a frame building, which stood on the court house lot, on Main Street, near the alley. The buckets kept by the citizens were for twenty years inspected every April by the wardens.

            An alarm of fire brought out the whole population of the town, and the greatest excitement and confusion prevailed. Double lines were formed to the nearest pump, one line passing down the full buckets and the other returning the empty ones. Women were often efficient workers in these lines. The water in a well would soon be exhausted, and a move had to be made to one more remote. It was hopeless to contend with a fire of any magnitude and efforts in such cases were only made to prevent the spreading of the fire.

            In January, 1828, all three rivers were higher than they had been since the great flood of 1811. The Third Street canal bridge and all the bridges over the mill races near town were washed away, and the bridge over the canal at Jefferson Street was damaged. Fencing and buildings near the river banks were much injured. Among the landmarks swept oil_' by the high water this year was the red warehouse, used by flatboatmen and owned by Silas Broadwell, which stood on the Wilkinson Street (page 158) haul: of the Miami River. The State dam, which was built in 1827, was much damaged by this flood.

            The following fire wardens were appointed in 182S: James Steele, George W. Smith, Alexander Grimes, Matthew Patton, and Warren Munger; engineer, J. W. Van Cleve.

            The population of Dayton in 1828 was sixteen hundred and ninety-seven. Twenty stage coaches arrived weekly.

            This summer the Dayton Guards, a uniformed military company of boys, was organized. At ten o'clock Fourth of July morning the "young heroes paraded in front of the court house and shortly afterwards marched to the residence of the widow of Joseph Peirce, Esq., where were assembled a considerable number of the heads of the most respectable families and all the beauty and fashion of our flourishing town." A flag was presented to the company by the young ladies of Dayton. One of the young ladies made a lengthy presentation speech, which was replied to by a member of the Guards.

            Thirty-six brick buildings and thirty-four of wood were erected in town during 1828. In January, 1829, there were one hundred and twenty-five brick buildings in Dayton; six of stone, and two hundred and thirty-nine of wood. There were two hundred and thirty-five dwelling houses, and Presbyterian, Methodist, and Christian brick meeting-houses. This year Timothy Squier opened the National Hotel in the building on Third Street, adjoining the Beckel House.

            The executors of the Cooper estate on May 9, 1829, sold a block of five lots at the head of the basin, containing a little over one third of an acre, for two thousand, nine hundred and twenty dollars, which was considered a high price and mentioned in the newspaper as an indication of the rise of property in Dayton since the opening of the canal. Another improvement was in the increased regularity and speed with which the mail was received. Papers were received in 1829 from Washington and Baltimore in six days; from Philadelphia in seven; from New York in eight; from Boston in nine or ten.

            The white population of Dayton in 1829 was two thousand, two hundred and seventy-two; blacks eighty-six. There had been an increase of six hundred and sixty-one in the population during the past fourteen months. The amount of merchants' capital returned by the assessor of Montgomery County for 1829 was one hundred and twenty-nine thousand, eight hundred and eleven dollars. Under a new law passed by the legislature the free white male freeholders over the age of twenty-one, who had resided in the corporation one year, voted for a mayor instead of a president of council, and one recorder and five trustees.

            (page 159) Morris Seely was elected State senator this year and John Turner representative.

            In spite of the growth and improvement of Dayton, customs were still somewhat primitive in 1829. The Journal complains, in a humorous article, that the people were in the habit of taking their dogs to church, and that, during the service, they were either growling, barking, or jumping about the house, to the no small annoyance of the congregation, and suggests that it might be well to have an apartment allotted for their reception, so that they might amuse themselves without disturbing the congregation.

            At a meeting held in 1829, the first Dayton Temperance Society was formed. William King was moderator and Dr. Job Haines secretary of the meeting. The following persons were appointed to prepare a constitution and an address to the public: A. Baker, Daniel Ashton, D. Winters, D. L. Burnet, John Steele, Job Haines, H. Jewett, William M. Smith, and Henry Bacon. For some time the Dayton newspapers were full of arguments for and against temperance societies. July 27, 1829, it was decided that the new market house, which the city was about to build, should be located in the alley running from Jefferson to Main Street, between Third and Fourth streets. For the purpose of widening the market space, property costing one thousand, one hundred and ninety-six dollars was purchased by council. A small building was put tip on Main Street, which was extended to Jefferson Street in 1836.  All the space east of the market house of 1829 to Jefferson Street was given up to market wagons. The old market house    on Second Street was abandoned April 24, 1830.

            A bitter rivalry existed between the parts of the town divided by Third Street. People living north of Third Street appropriated the name of Dayton to themselves, and in derision called that part of the town lying south of that street Cabintown.. When it was proposed to remove the market from Second Street to the present location, violent opposition was made and every measure resorted to defeat it. Two tickets were nominated for city officers, politics were forgotten, and this was made the sole issue. Cabintown proved numerically the stronger and the fate of the market house was sealed. When the market house was moved, Thomas Morrison, who had it in charge, placed a large placard on it, "Bound for Cabintown," which was read with the deepest chagrin by the people on Market, now Second Street. So bitter was the feeling that for a long while, many persons refused to attend market at the new location. William Clark was appointed clerk and marshal of the market by council in 1830. His salary was seventy-five dollars per annum.

            (page 160) In 1830 a company was formed to construct a basin connecting the canal at its intersection with Wayne Street and a point at the southern extremity of the city. Morris Seely was the main mover in this project, and great expectations were entertained in regard to it. The supreme court had decided that the water power within the city limits, and furnished by the canal, belonged to the State of Ohio, a decision which was afterwards reversed, and the water power given to the Cooper estate. It was believed that this water power could be leased and utilized along the proposed basin. Land was bought at what was then an extravagant price, and lots laid out. These lots were small in size, and arranged fir factories, warehouses, and docks, such as would be required in a large city, but were unsuited to a place with the pretensions of Dayton. The scheme proved an utter failure, and left consequences that were an annoyance to the city for years afterwards. The lots were unsalable, and the method of platting a serious detriment to that part of the town. The canal, or ditch as. it was afterwards called, bred disease, and the city authorities were called upon to fill it up. Before the controversy was finally settled, the excitement ran so high that the saw mill of Mr. E. Thresher, located on the canal at Wayne Street, which used the ditch as a tail-race, was burned. A large part of the ditch is now filled up, and the lower end used as a city drain.

            In connection with the basin and on its bank a pleasure garden was opened by A. M. Peasley on Warren Street. A small pleasure boat was run from Third Street on summer afternoons to the garden, where refreshments were provided, and it was expected that large numbers of pleasure seekers would resort there. Like the basin, the garden was ahead of the times and after a trial of two or three years was abandoned. In 1830 Alexander Grimes and William M. Smith, both Whigs, were elected to the legislature. General Smith died, and was succeeded December 7th by Henry Stoddard, also a Whig.

            In 1830 Stevenson ran the first locomotive in England over the Manchester and Liverpool railroad. The sane year a miniature locomotive and cars were exhibited in Dayton in the Methodist Church. The fact that the city council by resolution exempted the exhibition from a license fee, and that the Methodist Church was used for this purpose illustrates the deep interest felt by the public in the then new and almost untried scheme -to transport freight and passengers by steam over roads constructed for the purpose. A track was run around the interior of the church, and for a small fee parties were carried in the car. A large part of the then citizens of Dayton took their first railroad ride in this way.

            (page 161) In July, 1831, a second exhibition of a miniature locomotive and car occurred, and the following advertisement, headed Important Exhibition," appeared in the Journal: "A locomotive or steam carriage drawing a car on a miniature railroad will be exhibited at Machir & Hardcastle's warehouse, near the basin, on Friday and Saturday, July 1st and 2nd. The exhibition will be a rich treat to the friends of State or National improvement. The locomotive works with great celerity and precision, drawing a splendid miniature car in which two persons may ride at the same time. Both locomotive and car are constructed on the most improved principles by Mr. A. Bruen, of Lexington, 1entucky, and the workmanship may be safely pronounced of the first order. The novelty of this machine has never failed to excite the admiration and curiosity of all who have seen it. Ladies and gentlemen are respectfully invited to call and ride. Admittance twenty-five cents; children half price." The population of Dayton in 1830 was two thousand, nine hundred and fifty-four, a gain of one thousand, two hundred and thirty-seven in little more than two years. This year eighty-one houses were built. In 1831 fifty brick buildings and seventy-two of frame were erected. The population was three thousand, two hundred and fifty-eight. Six thousand, two hundred and nineteen passengers by coach passed through town this year.

            David Cathcart was appointed postmaster to succeed George S. Houston.

            In October Christ's Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. Ethan Allen.

            Robert Young was elected State senator, and Henry Sheideler and G. S. Swain members of the assembly in 1831. Mr. Sheideler was a Democrat and Mr. Swain a Whig.

            In November about two hundred and fifty Seneca Indians, men, women, and children, on their way to the reservation west of the Mississippi River, encamped at the big spring on the north side of Mad River. They were here three days and excited great curiosity by their singular, rude, and uncivilized habits and appearance. One of the gaping crowd, who was watching them at dinner, moved off in some confusion, w Indian, at whom he was staring, looked up and said: "Indian eats just like white man; he puts the victuals in his mouth."

            Just below the mouth of Stillwater the Miami makes a bend in the form of a horseshoe, inclosing in it that part of Dayton known as McPherson. By cutting a race across the bend, a valuable water power is obtained. About 1829 James Steele, who owned the land, completed a dam across the Miami and the race. In 1830 he erected a saw mill (page 162) and afterwards a grist mill. This water power is now known as the Dayton View Hydraulic, and the large establishments of Stillwell & Bierce, A. Simonds, and the Dayton Electric Light Company use the power to propel their machinery. In digging the race, an immense tooth of a mastodon was unearthed, which was deposited as a curiosity in the Cincinnati Museum. As no other part of the skeleton was found in the vicinity, it is supposed that the tooth was brought here with the drift from some other region.

            General Robert C. Schenck began the practice of law in Dayton in 1831. He was a public-spirited citizen, taking an active interest in all efforts for the improvement of the town, and impressing himself upon this community long before he attained a national reputation. Ile devoted much time and labor to the Dayton Lyceum, Mechanics' Institute, Public Library, Woodland Cemetery, city park, the hydraulic, turnpikes, railroads, and public schools, and frequently gave gratuitous lectures at the invitation of his townsmen.

            In 1832 a fugitive slave was captured in Dayton, and carried of by his master, who lived in Kentucky. The occurrence produced the greatest excitement and indignation in the community. All that was necessary to prove the detestable character of the fugitive slave law was an attempt to enforce it. The following account, from the Dayton Journal, of the affair by all eye-witness, who was not an Abolitionist, though his sympathies were all with the negro, is worthy of insertion in the history of Dayton:


            " A short time ago a negro man, who had lived in this place two or three years under the name of Thomas Mitchell, was arrested by some men from Kentucky and taken before a justice under a charge of being a

            slave who had escaped from his roaster. The magistrate, on hearing the evidence, discharged the black man, not being satisfied with the proof brought by the claimants of their rights to him. A few weeks afterwards some men awned, employed by the master, seized the negro in our Main Street, and were hurrying him towards the outskirts of the town, where they had a sleigh in waiting to carry hint of. The negro's cries brought a number of citizens into the street, who interfered and prevented the men from taking him away without having legally proved their right to do so. The claimants of the negro went before the justice again, and after a long examination of the case on some new evidence being produced, he was decided to be the slave of the person claiming him as such. In the meantime a good deal of excitement had been produced among the people of the place and their sympathies for the poor black fellow were so much awakened that a proposition was made to buy his (page 163) freedom. The agent of the master agreed to sell him under the supposition that the master would sell him his liberty, and a considerable sure was subscribed, to which, out of his own savings, the negro contributed upwards of fifty dollars himself. The master, however, when his agent returned to Kentucky, refused to agree to the arrangement, and came himself the week before last to take the negro away. Their first meeting was in the tipper story of a house, and Tom, on seeing those who were about to take him, rushed to a window and endeavored, but without success, to dash himself through it, although had he succeeded, he would have fallen on a stone pavement from a height not less than fifteen feet. He was prevented, however, and the master took him away with him and got him as far as Cincinnati. The following letter received by a gentleman in this place gives the concluding account of the matter:



"'CINCINNATI, January 24, 1832.

            "DEAR SIR:-In compliance with a request of Mr. J. Deinkard, of Kentucky, I take my pen to inform you of the death of his black man Ben, whom he took in your place a few days ago. The circumstances are as follows: On the evening of the 22d inst. Mr. D. and company, with Ben, arrived in this city on their way to Kentucky, and put up at the Main Street Hotel, where a room on the uppermost story (fourth) of the building was provided for Ben and his guard. All being safe, as they thought, about one o'clock, when they were in a sound sleep, poor Ben stimulated with even the faint prospect of escape or perhaps predetermined on liberty or death, threw himself from the window which is upwards of forty feet from the pavement. he was, as you may well suppose, severely injured, and the poor fellow died this morning about 4 o’clock. Mr. S. left this morning with the dead body of the slave, to which he told me he would give decent burial in his own churchyard. Please tell Ben’s wife of these circumstances. Your unknown correspondent,


“R. P. Simmons.”


            “Tom, or as he is called in the letter, Ben, was an industrious, steady, saving little fellow and had laid up a small sum of money, all of which he gave to his wife ad child when his master took him away.  A poor     and humble being, of an unfortunate and degraded race-the same feeling which animated the signers of the Declaration of Independence to pledge life, fortune, and Honor for liberty, determined him to be free or die."

            Early in 1832 the Journal suggests the building of a railroad from Dayton to Cincinnati, giving as one urgent reason for the undertaking (page 164) the fact that part of every year the canal was frozen over, and, as there was then no sufficient connection with the Cincinnati market, Dayton products fell to a ruinously low price. The same winter the legislature incorporated the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad Company.

            In February, 1832, there was a freshet which equaled that which had caused so much destruction of property four years before. The Journal of February 14th makes the following allusion to the high water: The late rains produced a great food in the Miami. On Sunday night a serious apprehension was felt for the safety of the levees, which protect the basin and canal from the river; but they stood firmly and were sufficiently high for the present emergency, and we think low enough to show the necessity of their being raised and strengthened. The flood reached exactly to the one on the 8th of January, 1828, which was the highest one since 1814."

            This year there was much destruction of property and great distress caused by the unprecedented height of the Ohio at Cincinnati. As soon as the news reached here that the homes of many poor people at Cincinnati had been washed away, call for a meeting at the court house to raise funds for the flood sufferers was published in the Dayton newspapers. At the meeting two hundred and two dollars were raised by subscription and sent by J. W. Van Cleve, mayor of Dayton, to the mayor of Cincinnati, "to aid in relieving the distressed people of that city."

            Henry Sheideler and William Sawyer, both Democrats, were elected members of the legislature in 1832.

            The Fourth of July celebration in 1832 was a grand affair. Edward W. Davies read the Declaration of Independence, and Robert A. Thruston delivered all oration. Adam Houk was marshal of the procession, and G. C. Davis, Robert C. Schenck, Jefferson Patterson, Peter P. Lowe, and George Engle served as assistant marshals. The following gentlemen were the committee of arrangements: Thomas Clegg, Charles G. Swain, David C. Baker, Charles R. Greene, George Grove, William Eaker, Peter Baer, Johnson V. Perrine, William Roth, John Engel, David Davis, Thomas Morrison, F. F. Carrell, Samuel Foley, and Thomas Brown. At no time in the history of Dayton, except during the civil war, has there been as exciting a political campaign as that of 1832, preceding the second election of General Jackson as president of the United States. So bitter was the feeling on both sides in this contest, that Whigs and Democrats, though neighbors and old friends, ceased speaking to each other on the streets. Previous to Madison's administration the people of Dayton seem to have been nearly all of one mind on the subject of politics, or at (page 165) any rate not intense partisans. But for a number of years after that date an election rarely passed without several fghts between the members of the two parties, usually on the corner of Main and Third streets, for the court house was the polling place for the whole township, in which the territory now assigned to Harrison, Mad River, and Vau Buren townships was then included.

            Late on the night before the presidential election in 1832, a tall hickory pole was erected on the outer edge of the pavement in front of the court house, and from it floated the American fag. Great was the surprise and indignation of the Whigs when this pole greeted their eyes the next morning, and great the triumph of the party which had erected.  Crowds of Whigs gathered on the corners, muttering angry imprecations. It was evident that they permit hickory tree to remain standing at the polls, and as certain that the Democrats would violently resist any effort which the other party might make to remove it, and that a pitched battle would ensue if the authorities did not interfere. A meeting of council was held early in the morning, and presently those of the citizens who had not gone home to breakfast, saw the council, headed by the marshal, John Dodson, followed by John W. Van Cleve, the mayor, axe in hand, and Dr. John Steele and F. F. Carrell, march to the hickory tree and form a circle around it. The mayor notified the marshal of the order of council, just passed, to "cut down the pole and drag it out as a nuisance." It was the duty of the marshal to perform this perilous act. Au account of this occurrence published in the Journal in 1889 called out two communications on the subject from eye witnesses.

            One of them says: "In the face and in defiance of an outraged and infuriated collection (not mob) of red-hot Jackson Democrats-and what that meant could hardly be appreciated by one of this cold-blooded, law-abiding generation-the worthy marshal hesitated, as well he might. A man of lofty mien and determined purpose in every movement, stepped to the front, seized the axe, and wielding it as only a stalwart Kentuckian could wield it, with it few well served strokes, brought the offensive emblem to the ground. When it fell there was a pause, not a cheer was heard from the Whigs, and only muttered curses from the Democrats. The audacity of this brave act of Dr. John Steele, a man universally known and respected, no doubt prevented a bloody riot. Another correspondent states that the pole was cut down by Herbert S. Williams. Probably both accounts were correct, as from the size of the pole it would require It good many strokes of the axe to fell it, and more than one hand may have been employed on it.

            A canal boat arrived in Dayton December 17, 1832, with twenty-five German emigrants on board, all of whom were ill with cholera, or something resembling it. One of them had died the day before the boat reached here. They all crowded into a small room together when they landed. Seven of them died. One of the doctors and the two men employed by the town to nurse the Germans were taken sick. Both the nurses died. Cholera did not become epidemic here at this time, and the nine deaths just mentioned were all that occurred. A board of health had been appointed by council in the sunnier, so that all sanitary precautions were taken to prevent the spread of the disease, which was prevailing in other parts of the United States. The board of health consisted of a member of council and two other citizens from each ward. The following persons were appointed: First Ward, Aaron Baker and George C. Davis; Second Ward, James Steele and William Bomberger; Third Ward, H. G. Phillips and Stephen Whicher; Fourth Ward, Dr. Raines and F. W. Davies; Fifth Ward, James Mitchell and William Patterson.

            During 1832 fifty-one brick and sixty-two wooden houses were erected.

            A silk manufactory was established in town this year by Daniel Roe. He made sewing silk and the warp for coarse stuffs. Some handkerchiefs were also manufactured. He advertises in June that he has two thousand Italian mulberry trees ready to pluck, and will furnish leaves, silk worm eggs, and frames for those willing to raise cocoons for hire on shares. He also offers to pay the highest price for cocoons delivered at the store of Swain & Demorest, and hoped by the next year to take all that the neighborhood could produce. A number of persons planted mulberry trees at this time, and expected to engage in raising silk worms. But the factory was not a success.

            Charles Soule, afterwards a noted portrait painter, opened a store for the sale of engravings and for framing pictures in 1833. He also carried on "his old business of sign and ornamental painting" at his shop. This year George C. Davis and William Sawyer represented Montgomery County in the legislature. Mr. Davis was a Whig and Mr. Sawyer a Democrat.

            The second election of General Jackson to the presidency was celebrated in Dayton oil the 8th of January, 1833, by a barbecue on the common west of the basin, now Library Park. National salutes were fired during the day. Immediately on the arrival at noon of a canal boat with from fifty to one hundred citizens of Miamisburg, "a hickory tree bearing the American flag, still larger and more majestic than (page 167) which oil a previous occasion left a stump" (an evident allusion to the cutting down of the Jackson pole in 1832), was erected.

            A large number of people from this and adjacent counties were present on this occasion.

            After the erection of the pole, a procession was formed in front of which walked four Revolutionary soldiers hearing Liberty caps and two members of the Dayton. Hickory Club carrying all appropriate banner, who were followed by another soldier bearing the American flag. After moving through the principal streets, the procession passed into the court house, where an address was made and resolutions adopted. From the court house they proceeded to the common, where an ox was roasted whole, of which and other refreshments all were indiscriminately invited to partake. The barbecue was followed by "some spirited sentiments," after which the procession reformed and marched to the center of town, where it dispersed.

            A barbecue was usually an uninviting feast. The outer part of the ox was smoked and scorched, and the remainder uncooked, though the animal was always roasted for many hours. After the feast, the almost untouched carcass was hauled oft by horses, surrounded by a crowd of boys and dogs, to be disposed of by hogs and hounds.

            November 19, 1833, a new hand engine, called the Safety, was bought, a description of which, and the other hand engines subsequently bought, and the companies formed to operate them, will be found in the chapter on the "Fire Department."

            In 1833 Christ's Church, the first Episcopal church erected in Dayton, was built on South Jefferson Street, near Fifth.

            The following trades marched with appropriate banners in the Fourth of July procession for 1833: One coppersmith and tinner, two combmakers, three tobacconists, three bookbinders, five shoemakers, six stonecutters, seven brickmakers, eight printers, nine saddlers, tell coopers, eleven butchers, twelve carpenters; thirteen painters, fourteen bakers, fifteen cabinet-makers; sixteen bricklayers, seventeen chairmakers, eighteen hatters, twenty coachmakers, nineteen blacksmiths, twenty-one tailors. On account of the cholera, it fast day was appointed by Dr. Job Haines, mayor of Dayton, for the 23d of July. There were thirty-three deaths here from cholera from June to September, 1833. There were one thousand and one buildings in Dayton in 1833. The population was four thousand. The following were the Dayton taverns about this period: The frame tavern kept by John Wolf, west side of Second Street, cast of Ludlow, was popular with country people because it had a large feed yard and barn in the rear. In 1829 it was called (page 168) the Farmers' Hotel, and afterwards Farmers and Mechanics' Hotel. A similar hotel, with barn and feed yard, was the Franklin House, south west corner Main and Second streets. Edmund Browning, of Columbus, opened the National Hotel in the building still standing on Third Street, adjoining the Becket House, in 1830, and kept it till 1836. The Travelers' Inn, a three-story brick building on the south side of First, near St. Clair Street, was opened by John Lehman in April, 1832. The Lafayette House stood on the north side of Third, between Jefferson and St. Clair streets. The Montgomery House, which still stands oil tile northeast corner of Canal and Third streets, did a thriving business during the early years of the canal.

            January 3, 1834, an ordinance was passed by council for the appointment of one or more watchmen. They were to wear uniform badges and have the same power to call on persons to assist them in arresting offenders as the marshal had. The marshal and these watchmen constituted the police of Dayton.

            Plans for a covered wooden bridge over the Miami River on Main Street were advertised for on the 28th of January. The county commissioners on June 4, 1835, appropriated six hundred dollars toward the building fund, and the remainder of the money was raised by subscription.

            The bridge was opened for travel in 1836.

            February 2, 1834, five buildings were burned near the basin. This was the largest fire that had occurred here for fifteen years. The engines were found insufficient, and a subscription was raised to purchase an additional one.

            The news of the death of Lafayette was received in 1834, and commemorative services were held here on the 31st of August. A procession, composed of the mechanics of the town, carrying handsome banners draped in black, and representing their different occupations, the Masonic Fraternity, and the order of Independent Odd Fellows, formed about eleven o'clock and marched to the Presbyterian church. The exercises were opened with an impressive prayer by Rev. E. Allen, after which a beautiful and feeling ode, written for the occasion by a young lady of Dayton, was sung by the choir. Robert A. Thruston delivered "an impassioned and eloquent delineation of the talents of the deceased patriot." Then an ode, written for a similar occasion in Cincinnati by James Hall, was sung by the choir. Solemn music by the Cincinnati band accompanied the exercises, which closed with a prayer and benediction by Rev. David Winters. The committee of arrangements on this occasion was composed of the following gentlemen: Thomas Clegg, George Owen, W. L. Helfenstein, E. W. Davies, Peter (page 169) Odlin, John Steele, E. Browning, P. A. Thruston, E. Brabham, James Brown, Robert C. Schenck, John Anderson, Peter Baer, and C. G. Swain.

            In 1834 the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad Company was organized. The Dayton members of the first board of directors were H. G. Phillips, J. Harshman, and C. G. Swain.

            In the winter of 1834 Alexander Grimes, I. T. Harker, John Reuch, D. Stone, and others formed a company, called the Fire Guards. They carried white wands, and it was their duty to protect property and keep order at fires.

            Horace Pease, who was a Whig, and William Sawyer, a Democrat, were elected to the legislature this year from Montgomery County. James Steele, a Whig, was elected State senator.

            In the winter of 1834-1835 a one-story building of heavy cut stone was erected in the rear of the old jail. It contained four cells constructed with arched brick ceilings and stone floors. This building was used as county jail for ten years, as the one erected in 1813 was considered unsafe. On January 1, 1835, appeared the first rhymed New Year's address of the carriers of the Dayton Journal. This custom was continued for years, and the patrons of the Journal always had a quarter or half dollar ready when the carrier appeared with his verses, printed on a separate sheet from the newspaper on New Year's morning. Some of these addresses were written in excellent verse, were very witty, and full of amusing puns, jokes, and local hits.

            In 1835 Fielding Loury, a member of the Democratic party, represented Montgomery County in the legislature.

            In December, 1835, council passed an ordinance directing physicians, keepers of public houses, and commanders of canal boats, to report all cases of smallpox, cholera, or any other malignant or unusual disease to the mayor. A hospital was provided and all persons so diseased were to be sent there if willing to go, and if they objected to being removed, a notice or sign naming the disease was to be put up in a conspicuous place on the outside of the house where they were, on penalty of a fine. Persons suffering from such diseases were also to be fined if they left the house till well. All this was a preparation for all epidemic, which, fortunately, did not appear. It was the first time that such precautionary measures were adopted in Dayton.

            The following fire wardens were appointed in 1836: First ward, Matthew Patton and Moses Simpson; second, James Steele and Abram Darst; third, Musto Chambers and Samuel Shoup; fourth, John Bench and David Osborn; fifth, A. Artz and William Hart. Council agreed this year to pay "fifty cents to each of the sextons of the several churches (page 170) as Avell as to the sheriff for ringing their respective bells at each fire to give the alarm more generally to the citizens." They also resolved to finish the cisterns already commenced with lime cement, and to purchase five hundred more feet of hose for the fire department.

            James Steele was re-elected State senator in 1836, and Robert A. Thruston was elected member of the lower house of the legislature. Mr. Thruston was re-elected in 1837, but died before the close of his second term. He was a than of brilliant talents and noted for his graceful oratory. The deepest regret was felt by the community that a career of such fine promise was cut short in early life.

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