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History of Dayton, Ohio 1889
Chapter Sixteen

(page 353)




Mercantile and Commercial-Numerous Branches of Trade and Commerce-Numbers of Firms in Business in Various Years-The Wholesale and Retail Grocer-Dry Goods Dealers-Extent of Trade-Disproportionate-Explanation-Dayton Exchange-Circular Issued-Railroad Construction from Xenia to Washington-Cheap Coal a Desideratum-Death of the Exchange-Completion of the Railroad into Jackson County-Gradual Reduction in Price of Coal-New Board of Trade-Its Efforts in Behalf of the Prosperity of the City.


            THE branches of trade and commerce in Dayton, like the classes of manufactures, are so numerous that it is manifestly impracticable to trace them out in all their details, and it is likewise impossible to present an historical sketch of this branch of the city's interests that shall be anything like satisfactory either to the reader or to the writer. No one realizes this more clearly or forcibly that those gentlemen, officers and members of the board of trade, who have made several earnest efforts, all of them unsuccessful, to collect complete statistical information regarding either commerce or manufactures. Neither merchants nor manufacturers, as a rule, are willing to give the necessary facts and figures from which, when summed up, such a statement as is required by those who are merely seeking information might be made, even when every assurance of the most rigid secrecy as to the facts concerning any individual firm or company is given. Hence it is evident that any attempt to do justice to this subject must fail from the necessities of the case.

            But, if it is possible by a problem in proportion to arrive approximately at the extent or amount of business done in any one year, from a tolerably close estimate of the number of firms and the amount of business transacted in any other year, the following figures may be of some value and interest, besides satisfying the curiosity of the reader: From the city directories of 1856, 1871, 1880, and 1888, it has been computed that there were in those years in the various branches of business, the following numbers of individuals and firms engaged: In 1856-Bookstores, 3; dealers in clothing, 4; coal dealer, 1; commission merchants, 2; confectioners, 4; druggists, 6; dry goods merchants, 6; furniture dealer, 1; grain dealer, 1; grocers, 26; hardware dealers, 2; hat, cap, and fur dealers, 3; land agent, 1; leather dealers, 3; lime and   limestone dealers 1; lumber dealers, 6; meat marketmen, 2; merchant tailors, 4; milliners, 3; piano dealers, 1; pork packers, 1; produce dealers, 2; provision stores 3; restaurateurs, 2. (page 354) In 1871-Bakers, 24; in 1880, 31; in 1888, 32; bookstores, in 1871, 7; in 1880, 9; and in 1888, 10; boot and shoe dealers, in 1871, 70; in 1880, 97; in 1888, 90; butter dealers, in 1871, 1; in 1880, 4; in 1888, 3; dealers in china, glass and queensware, in 1871, 55; in 1880, 23; in 1888, 7*; dealers in cigars and tobacco, in 1871, 24; in 1880, 60; in 1888, 53; coal dealers, in 1871, 13; in 1880, 19; in 1888, 33; commission merchants, in 1871, 12; in 1880, 9; in 1888, 10; confectioners, in 1871, 23; in 1880, 34; in 1888, 47; druggists, in 1871, 23; in 1880, 30; in 1888, 43; dry goods merchants, in 1871, 35; in 1880, 22; in '888, 32; dealers in flour and feed, in 1871, 20; in 1880, 30; in 1888, 30; fruit dealers, in 1871, 17; in 1880, 17; in 1888, 15; furniture manufacturers and dealers, in 1871, 12; in 1880, 17; in 1888, manufacturers, 7; dealers, 13; merchant tailors, in 1871, 23; in 1880, 23; in 1888, 21; grain dealers, in 1871, 6; in 1880, 8; in 1888, 6; wholesale grocers, in 1871, 9; in 1880, 12; in 1888, 8; retail grocers, in 1871, 211; in 1880,190; in 1888, 250; hardware merchants, in 1871, 9; in 1880, 9; in 1888, 10; dealers in house furnishing goods, in 1.871, 4; in 1880, 7; 1888, 9; ice dealers, in 1871, 2; in 1880, 1; in 1888, 5; lumber dealers, in 1871, 10; in 1880, 9; 1888, 11; meat-marketmen, in 1871, 14; in 1880,-52; in 1888,100; milliners, in 1871, 34; in 1880, 33; in 1888, 34; dealers in notions, in 1871, 18; in 1880, 62; in 1888, 49; piano dealers, in 1871, 3; in 1880, 6; in 1888, 6; pork packers, in 1871, 2; in 1880, 3; in 1888, 4; silverware dealers, in 1871, 6; in 1880, 5; in 1888, 6; dealers in stoves and hollow-ware, in 1871, 15; in 1880, 26; 1888, 30; watch-makers and jewelers, in 1871, 10; in 1880, 13; in 1888, 27.

            * The number for 1888 includes only exclusive dealers.


            One of the most important branches of business in connection with any city or community is that of the grocer. Everyone must patronize the grocer, because everyone must live. The increase in the number of establishments carrying on the grocery business, therefore, would seem to be a better index to the growth of a city than perhaps any other class of business. At the present time there are five exclusively wholesale grocery companies in Dayton: John K. McIntire & Company, Weakley, Worman & Company, N. Thacker & Company, W. S. Phelps & Sons, and Crossley & Adamson. These five firms transact in the aggregate an annual business of over three million dollars. The directory of 1888, as stated above, contains a list of about two hundred and fifty grocers doing a retail business. However, it has been stated upon apparently good authority, that there are over five hundred and eighty retail grocers in the city, a few of whom carry on also a wholesale business. The estimate is made that these retail grocers, including those who are wholesalers as well, transact an annual business of about ten thousand dollars each, or an aggregate of over five million eight hundred thousand dollars per annum. In the dry goods lines, the directory of 1888 enumerates three wholesale (page 355) houses and houses and twenty-nine retail houses. Some of the largest of these retail firms are D. L. Dike & Co., Daniels & Meldrum, Lambert & Clock, Elder, Hunter & Johnston, and Bauer, Forster & Co., all of whom do an immense business. The first firm mentioned is said to transact a business of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per year, a part of it being wholesale. In the ready-made clothing line there are several. large establishments, which is also true of the boot and shoe trade, the jewelry business, fancy goods, and several other lines. The last directory enumerates forty-three drug stores in the city, and in all there are, in all probability, over twenty-three hundred retail establishments of all kinds. The estimate is made that each of these establishments, large and small, on the average, do a business of about seven thousand dollars per year, and, according to this estimate, the retail business of Dayton would amount, annually, to nearly eighteen million dollars. The entire number of wholesale houses in the city is forty, and the amount of their business annually is estimated at eight million, five hundred thousand dollars.

            This trade is largely disproportionate to the population of the city, but is explained by the fact that Dayton is in the heart of a rich agricultural region, which is inhabited by an industrious and thriving community of farmers. It is also surrounded on all sides by an immense number of wealthy towns and villages, whose merchants, for the most part, make it the source of supplies of all kinds. The merchants of Dayton buy directly from the manufacturers, and are thus enabled to compete successfully with merchants of even larger cities. They occupy not only all the territory to which they are rightfully entitled, but encroach considerably on the territory that would seem to belong to such cities as Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. The growth of the trade of the city for the past fve or six years has been particularly remarkable and gratifying. This fact would seem to indicate that Dayton has become a more important center of trade than ever before in her history. While conservatism may have its faults and disadvantages, yet it is doubtless owing to this characteristic of the inhabitants of this city that this very valuable feature of the life of the city is due. The first organized effort made in this city to collect data with reference to the commercial and manufacturing interests of the place, and to stimulate and increase their growth, was in 1873. The first meeting of citizens for these purposes was held in the law office of Jordan & Linden, December 1st. Hon. J. A. Jordan was called to the chair, and S. B. Smith was made secretary. Hon. Mr. Jordan made a short address, in which he said that the object of the meeting was to organize a board of trade which would give impetus to the business of the city. He said (page 356) that the prospects of the city were good, business had not been overdone, and the people had confidence in the future of the place. Some had thought that the business prosperity of the city depended largely on the facilities for securing cheaper coal, and it was true there was a large class of manufacturers to whom coal was an important item in the success of their business. There were then three coal roads and less than one hundred and thirty miles from the coal felds. Instead of shipping coal from Cincinnati to Dayton, as had to be done in former years, coal was then being shipped from Dayton to Cincinnati. There were then twelve coal yards in the city, instead of two as formerly. Dayton was then consuming about one hundred and twenty thousand tons of coal per annum, which cost to bring it to Dayton two dollars per ton, and the facilities for getting coal to Dayton were constantly increasing.

            These were the principal remarks made, from which it will be seen that the main idea in which the meeting was interested, was that of securing cheaper coal. An organization of the board was then effected with Hon. J. A. Jordan, president; Michael Ohmer, vice-president; Ashley Brown, secretary, and John W. Stoddard, treasurer. The next meeting was held on the 6th of the month. At this meeting the principal question discussed was the building of a coal road to the coal fields in. Jackson County. Mr. Jordan, however, called attention to the fact that there were numerous branches of manufacture, to which coal was not a necessity at all. Committees were appointed for carrying out the work of the board. There was an executive committee, a finance committee, a committee on statistics, a committee of the whole, a committee to raise funds for the procuring of statistics, a committee on the extension of manufactures, and a committee on holding an annual exposition at Dayton. A constitution was adopted setting forth the objects of the board, which was named the Dayton Exchange, which were to collect and publish statistics and facts; to develop the business interests of the city; to encourage men to engage in business; to encourage merchants and manufacturers, and to create a market for real estate. A report was made to the exchange by Mr. Arnold that he had information to the effect that there was one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ready to go into various manufacturing enterprises, and that there were citizens with sufficient public spirit to donate land to the value of one hundred thousand dollars to enterprises of the kind. A committee on freights was, at this meeting, appointed to inquire into and report the price of freights on railroads leading into Dayton, as compared with other cities, and to learn whether there were any discriminations in favor of through freights as against local freights. Robert G. Corwin was (page 357) requested to make a statement as to the feasibility of completing the railroad from Xenia to Washington and what advantages would be gained thereby to Dayton.

            The exchange issued a circular on the 17th of the month, by a committee composed of A. D. Wilt, Charles E. Pease, and W. H. Gillespie, requesting all classes of business men to send to them statistics of their business, so that a comprehensive statement and accurate report might be made. W. B. Pease was appointed to collect statistics. At the next meeting held on the 20th of December, Robert G. Corwin made a report on the construction of the railroad from Xenia to Washington. He said that if it were completed there would be a saving of forty miles in the distance from Dayton to Muskingum and Perry counties, and the cost of bringing coal to this city would be greatly reduced. Coal then cost at the mines, on board the cars, one dollar and fifty cents per ton, and with this road completed the freight would be one dollar per ton, making coal cost, laid down in Dayton, two dollars and fifty cents per ton. The two roads then in existence, leading from Dayton to Columbus, were not competing with each other for the transportation of coal, and as a' consequence the rates of freight were excessive.

            In informal meeting was held at the Beckel house on the 23d of December for the purpose of conferring with a number of gentlemen from Greene, Jackson, and Fayette counties, in relation to the new road to the Jackson County coal fields. The plan discussed at that time was that of building a road from Xenia to Anderson, Ross County, fifty-four miles in length, and there making connection with the Cincinnati and Marietta road, which, at the distance of thirty-four miles, came into the rich coal and iron fields, to which Dayton was desirous of securing access. The cost of building or of completing the road, as part of the grading was already done, including the laying of the ties and rails, was estimated at five hundred and seventy thousand dollars.

            The Exchange from this time on seems to have done but little, as on the 9th of February, 1874, it was reorganized, Mr. Jordan suggesting the importance of employing a secretary who could devote his whole time to the duties of the position. The discussion of the construction of the Dayton and Southeastern Railroad was further continued, and the Exchange from that time on seems to have been suffered to lapse into nonentity, as no further accounts of its meetings could be found in the daily papers.

            The road into the Jackson County coal fields was completed in 1881, and it is of interest to all to trace the gradual reduction in the price of coal for the past twelve or fifteen years. This reduction may not, how (page 358) ever, be wholly owing to competition in railroad freights, and doubtless is not, as in any civilized country there are at work numerous agencies which have a steady tendency to reduce the cost not only of what may be termed luxuries, but also the necessaries of life. But whether or not the completion of the Dayton & Southeastern Railroad has done all or most of that which has been done toward bringing down the price of coal, one thing is certain, and that is that it has prevented it from going higher. Early in the fall of 1872, anthracite coal was selling to consumers at $10 per ton, while at the same time Hocking Valley coal was $5 to $5.40 per ton. In January, 1872, in accordance with the general rule that coal is higher during the winter months than in the summer and early fall, the prices were, for Hocking Valley coal, $5.90 per ton, and for Youghiogheny coal, $6.50 to $7.25 per toil. In August and October, 1873, the price for Hocking Valley was $5 per toil. In November, 1874, Hocking Valley coal was $4 per ton, and in September and October, 1875, it was the same, while anthracite coal was $9 per toil. In December, 1876, Hocking Valley coal was still $4 per ton, Youghiogheny was $4.50. In February, 1877, Hocking Valley was $4, and in September and November it was $3.50. In April and July, 1878, the price was still $3.50, while in April and June, 1879, it was $3.25. In September, 1882, it was $3.25, as was also Jackson County coal. In December the price for both kinds went up to $3.75, and it was the same in January, 1883. In May and October, 1884, the price for both Hocking Valley and Jackson County coal was $3.50 per ton, while anthracite was $7.25. The prices were the same for all kinds of coal in January, 1885. In October and November, 1885, the prices were $3.25 for Hocking Valley and Jackson County coal, and for anthracite, $6.50. In September, 1886, the prices were the same all round, and in 1887 they were about fifty cents higher on the ton. In the fall of 1888, Hocking Valley and Jackson County coal ranged from $3.25 to $3.50 per toil, aid in the spring of 1889, both Hocking Valley and Jackson County coal were $2.75 per ton, and anthracite $6.25.

            With reference to coal for manufacturing or steam-making purposes, it may be stated that when coal for domestic purposes is $4 per toil, lump coal for other purposes named usually is from $2.50 to $2.75 per toil, while slack is $2. During the last four or five years steam coal has been on the average, for slack, $1.50 per toil, nut and slack, $2, nut, $2.25, and lump $3; at the present time the prices for steam coal are, slack, $1.25, nut and slack, $1.75, nut, $2.25, and lump, $2.50.

            The present low prices for coal are in part, at least, attributable to the introduction of natural was into domestic and manufacturing purposes.

            (page 359) It is estimated that in 1870, the consumption of coal in Dayton was about forty thousand toils, while in 1888 an estimate was made, which is very close, and in every way reliable, showing that the consumption reached very nearly if not quite two hundred thousand tons. The next effort to organize a board of trade was made in April, 1887. A preliminary meeting was held on the 30th of that month at the Phillips House, at which John K. McIntire presided, and A. S. Estabrook acted as secretary. Speeches were made by Dennis Dwyer, James McDaniel, G. N. Bierce, N. P. Ramsey, W. R. Nevin, S. D. Conover, E. P. Matthews, and others. A committee on by-laws and constitution was appointed, consisting of H. B. Pruden, W. Worman, W. E. Crume, G. N. Bierce, H. E. Mead, N. P. Ramsey, and E. P. Matthews. At this preliminary meeting, fifty-eight individuals and firms signed a list, signifying their desire to become members of the organization.

            The first official session of the directory of this new organization was held in the Council Chamber May 23d, with President H. H. Weakley in the chair. E. P. Matthews was the secretary, and all the members were in attendance. The following standing committees were announced by the president:

            Executive Committee-H. H. Weakley, H. B. Pruden, R. R. Dickey, E. P. Matthews, and L. B. Gunckel.

            Committee on Appeal-Warren Munger, W. E. Crume, and D. W. Engle.

            Arbitration-J. A. McMahon, D. L. Rike, A. C. Fenner, E. E. Barney, Joseph R. Gebhart.

            Membership-O. W. Kneisley, H. E. Mead, George M. Lane, Millington Kemper, and A. Beebe.

            Manufactures-H. H. Laubach, V. P. Van Horne, W. R. Baker, Orion Dodds, A. A. Simonds, G. Stomps, J. W. Sefton, E. F. Stoddard, W. W. Smith, G. W. Heathman, William M. Kinnard, and Calvin Lyon. Transportation-George P. Huffman, W. M. Mills, S. D. Conover, G. N. Bierce, R. C. Schenck, Jr., S. J. Patterson, W. H. Simms, J. K. McIntire, and John D. Turner.

            Mercantile Interests-N. Thacker, Walter Worman, T. A. Legler, C. V. Osborn, H. C. Thompson, Harry Kiefaber, A. Newsalt, Houston Lowe, E. F. Cooper, D. R. Johnston, and Charles Spatz.

            Statistics-W. R. Nevin, B. F. Hargrave, E. C. Baird, Frank Conover, James Cummin, F. T. Hufman, and Joel O. Shoup. Printing-Edward Sachs, A. L. Bauman, and G. C. Kennedy.

            Public Improvements-C. A. Phillips, Ezra Bimm, B. Kuhns, J. E. (page 360) Lowes, M. A. Nipgen, John G. Doren, Ira Crawford, S. N. Brown, H. B. Groneweg, R. I. Cummin, and M. W. Chambers.

            Finance and Legislation-E. M. Thresher, A. S. Estabrook, 0. M. Gottschall, George P. Gebhart, Adam Lessner, Walter A. King, A. A. Winters, W. D. Bickham, W. D. McKemy, E. A. Parrott, and J. H. Cook. Produce-Joseph Kratochwill, Williani Kiefaber, N. Jacobs, A. A. Bimm, and S. D. Bear.

            Fuel and Light-Charles Whelan, J. E. Gimperling, Frank D. Fowler, Frank Huffman, Dennis Dwyer, Alonzo Ridgway, and J. Lane Reed.

            Lumber-Harry C. Wight, Silas R. Burns, Elliott Pierce, William Ohmer, Charles I. Williams, George Herbig, and David Pruden.

            Grain-Harry Schaefer, J. L. Norris, W. H. Nauman, Thomas Negus, and George P. Gebhart.

            Insurance-H. N. Williams, Horace Fox, A. D. Wilt, J. N. Thorn, Henry Zwick.

            Sanitary Affairs-Dr. A. H. Iddings, E. C. Baird, William Burkhardt, Otto Weusthof and George Schantz.

            Water--Luther Peters, Frederick Withoft, Charles W. Brown, George Neder, and E. R. Stilwell.

            Municipal Matters-Frank Conover, John Hanitch, Charles D. Iddings, J. A. Weed, and G. C. Wise.

            At that time there were three hundred and thirty-six members of the association. The executive committee was entrusted with the question of securing rooms for the meetings of the board, and a special committee was appointed to prepare a code of by-laws. Rooms were secured at Number 8 North Main Street, and the first meeting held therein was on June 7th. At this time appropriate resolutions were adopted regarding the death of E. F. Stoddard, and Houston Lowe was appointed to the vacancy caused by his death. The regular quarterly meeting was held June 13, 1887, at which time there had been paid of the membership fees, nearly $4,000. Four of the National Banks had joined the association, and the rooms then occupied by the Public Library were rented by the board. The officers of the board for 1887 were as follows: II. H. Weakley, president; H. B. Pruden, first vice-president; A. A. Winters, second vice-president; E. P. Matthews, secretary, and Walter A. King, treasurer. The officers for 1888 were the same as for 1887.

            The officers for 1889 are the following: A. A. Winters, president: H. B. Pruden, first vice-president; A. C. Marshall, second vice-president; E. P. Matthews, secretary; A. S. Estabrook, treasurer, and Hermann F. Cellarius, superintendent. The superintendent takes the place of the (page 361) manager, according to a new code of by-laws adopted February 11, 1889.

            Following are the standing committees for the year 1889. Executive Committee-H. H. Weakley, A. C. Marshall, S. J. Patterson, A. L. Bauman, W. E. Crume, H. R. Groneweg, H. B. Pruden.

            Municipal Affairs-R. I. Cummin, W. D. McKemy, A. C. Nixon, E. P. Mathews, A. C. Marshall, H. H. Laubach, G. N. Bierce.

            Finance and Legislation--E. M. Thresher, R. C. Schenck, Jr., James Turner, W. D. Bickham, J. O. Shoup, O. B. Brown, Albert Beebe. Railroads and Transportation-George P. Hufman, Walter W. Smith, Cyrus V. Osborn, Joseph R. Gebhart, C. J. Ferneding, D. B. Corwin, B. F. Hargrave.

            Manufacturers--G. N. Bierce, A. A. Simonds, Frank J. Patterson, W. P. Callahan, Adam Schantz, H. B. Pruden, John F. Ohmer.

            Mercantile Interests-J. K. McIntire, Walter Worman, Houston Lowe, Samuel Weller, DeWitt C. Arnold, Henry Lessner, H. C. Kiefaber.

            Fuel and Light--H. E. Mead, O. I. Gunckel, J. E. Boyer, Millington Kemper, H. E. Parrott, Charles Whelan, Charles I. Williams.

            Health and Sanitary Affairs--Dr. J. E. Lowes, Ira Crawford, J. J. Rossell, John A. Mayer, E. C. Baird, Otto Weusthof, Philip E. Gilbert. The objects of the board of trade, as set forth in its recently adopted constitution, are to encourage integrity and fairness in business; to discover and correct abuses; to establish and maintain uniformity in commercial usages; to collect, preserve, and circulate statistics and information regarding business; to prevent or adjust controversies that may arise between persons engaged in trade, and generally to advance the commercial and material interests of the city of Dayton. In furtherance of these objects the board, in the spring of 1889, found it necessary to undertake to secure the erection of a new union depot. The first meeting at which this subject was discussed was held March 11, 1889. The following series of resolutions, adopted at that meeting, abundantly set forth the views of the board of trade and of the citizens of Dayton on the subject:

            " WHEREAS, The passenger depot facilities of the city of Dayton are inadequate for the transaction of its business, and for the convenience and safety of the public, to an extent which does not exist in any other city of the country in proportion to population and the number of railroads using the said depot, and the business transacted; and,

            "WHEREAS, The citizens of Dayton have protested against this injustice for many years without any other result than securing promises from the railroad companies to speedily erect a. suitable building with proper (page 362) approaches and commensurate in all respects with the city's just claims, which promises have not been fulfilled; and,

            "WHEREAS, The competing roads for the business of the city assert their desire and readiness to join in the erection of a new depot, with the single exception of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroad Company, and have attended the joint conferences called for the purpose, but without action being taken on account of the representative of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Company having failed to attend the meeting as appointed; and,

            "WHEREAS, We believe that the cooperation of the said Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroad Company, and an effort on its part in proportion to its interests in the business of the city, would secure the erection of a new station during the coming summer; therefore, "Resolved, That a special committee be appointed to advise the proper representatives of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroad, and connecting lines, the White Line, the Merchants' Dispatch, and the American Express Company, that the business and traveling public hold the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railroad Company responsible for the continued disregard of the rights and interests of our people.

            "Resolved, That said committee be requested to report the results of its correspondence with said company at the regular meeting of the board of trade, to be held April 1, 1889, together with such recommendations on the subject of continued patronage of this company and its associate interests, as it may deem proper."

            The committee appointed to carry out the instructions contained in these resolutions was as follows: A. C. Marshall, George P. Huffman, and H. H. Weakley. This committee desiring to be indorsed by a strong representation of the city's business, secured the active support of the leading business men and firms of the city. Thus sustained, the committee communicated with General-Superintendent Beach, of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroad Company, and the result has been several meetings of the board of trade, and the final submission of plans and specifications for the raising of the railroad tracks and the erection of a new union depot building, the prospect being that in the near future an agreement will be arrived at, which will be satisfactory to all concerned, and a building erected which will be not only a convenience, but an ornament to the city.

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