First Disastrous Flood - Emigrants from New Jersey - Charles Russell Greene - Ferries - First Court House - First Newspaper - First Brick Stores - James Steele - Robert W. Steele - Dayton Academy - James Hanna - John Folkerth - First Teachers in the Academy - William M. Smith - James H. Mitchell - E. E. Barney - Trustees of the Academy in 1833 - Collins Wight - Milo G. Williams - Transfer of Academy to Board of Education - Henry Bacon - Luther Bruen - Antislavery Excitement - Arrest and Suicide of a Fugitive Slave - Colored People Leave Dayton for Hayti - A Colonization Society Formed - Antislavery Society - Union Meeting House, Principally Built by Luther Bruen - Dr. Timothy Birney and Mr. Rankin Mobbed - Dr. H. Jewett - Dr. John Steele - Advertisement of a Runaway Slave - Jonathan Harshman - First Brick Residence - The Cannon of "Mad Anthony" - Rev. James Welsh, M.D. - Dr. John Elliot - Town Prospering - No Care Taken of Streets or Walks - Grimes's Tavern - Alexander Grimes - Reid's Inn - Colonel Reid - Second Newspaper, the Repertory - Advertisements in the Repertory - Matthew Patton - Abram Darst - Pioneer Women.
In March, 1805, a disastrous flood - the first of any importance that had occurred since the settlement of Dayton - swept over the town plat.No levees had been built at this date, and when the town began to raise them they were repeatedly washed away.It took long and painful experience to teach the lesson that levees must be high and strong. John W. Van Cleve describes this flood in an address on the "Settlement and Progress of Dayton," delivered in 1833 before the Dayton Lyceum, a literary society, having a public library connected with it.The address was printed in the morning paper.
"In the spring of 1805," Mr. Van Cleve says,"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 is 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 sawmill now stands, leaving a dry strip from a point on the south side of Main Cross Street [now Third], 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 town 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 Courthouse, 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 off 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."
Some of us can remember how certain aged pioneers used to upbraid the founders of the town for putting it down in a hollow, instead of the hills to the southeast, and expatiate on the folly which the people were guilty of in voting against the removal, after the terrible freshet of 1805, to high ground."Some day there will be a flood which will sweep Dayton out of existence," those ancient men and women used to prophesy to their grandchildren.
In no way did Daniel C. Cooper confer a greater benefit upon his town than by inducing a number of men of superior education, character, and business capacity to come here from his native New Jersey and other States, between 1804 and 1808.About 1804 or 1805 arrived Charles Russell Greene, whose sister Mr. Cooper married. He was born in Rhode Island, but as, like his cousin Joseph Peirce, he was the son of a shareholder in the Ohio Company, his youth was spent at Marietta.The boys who came to Ohio in 1788 received a good education, for the company employed excellent teachers; and if these had been wanting, men, of whom there were many, of the ability and knowledge of Isaac Peirce and Charles Greene, fathers of Joseph Peirce and Charles R. Greene, were capable of instructing their sons themselves.When Charles R. Greene first came to Dayton, he was in business with Mr. Cooper.Afterwards he had a store of his own.
He succeeded Benjamin Van Cleve in 1821 as clerk of the court, a position for which he was eminently fitted.He was remarkably elegant and fine-looking.An old gentleman who was a child when Mr. Greene died was fond of relating how admiringly the boys used to watch this handsome, graceful man, mounted on a beautiful, spirited white horse, taking his daily ride down Main Street out into the country.Mr. Greene married a daughter of Henry Disbrow, a prominent Dayton business man.They had six children:Luciana Zeigler, married J. D. Phillips;Sophia, married E. T. Schneck;Eliza, married David Z. Peirce; Cooper, died unmarried;Harriet, married David Junkin;Charles H., married Adeline D. Piper.All are deceased except Mrs. Schneck.Mrs. C. R. Greene died November 3, 1873.
Mr. Greene was a highly esteemed citizen, and his death in 1831 threw a gloom over the whole community.Even the man who, while under the influence of liquor, caused his death admitted that he had killed his best friend.The indignation against the murderer was intense.At a fire, which occurred here on the night of September 10, 1833, Mr. Greene, one of the fire wardens, ordered Matthew Thompson, who was looking idly on, to assist in passing water in the leather buckets to the little engine, which was now always used in addition to the buckets.Thompson refused, and offering some resistance when the order was repeated, Mr. Greene was obliged to use force to compel him to obey.The next day, on the complaint of Thompson, Mr. Greene was summoned to appear before the squire.While he was being questioned, Thompson struck him with a club, death resulting in a short time.Mr. Greene's sister, Mrs. Cooper, by her third marriage became the mother of Major Fielding Loury, the father ofCharles G. and Sophie Loury, Mrs. Anna Dana, and Mrs. Elise L. Smith.
There were no bridges over the Miami or MadRiver in 1805; but there were two ferries over the Miami - 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 until a bridge was built in 1819.Ferry rates were fixed by the county commissioners, as follows: loaded wagon and team, seventy-five cents; empty wagon and team, fifty cents; two-wheeled carriage, thirty-seven and one-half cents; man and horse, twelve and one-half cents; person on foot, six and one-quarter cents.
In 1806 the first Court-house, a brick structure, fifty-two by thirty-eight feet in size, two stories high, was built on the present Court-house lot.The court-room was on the first floor, and the jury-rooms in the second story.In 1815 a cupola was built, in which a bell was hung in 1816.The building was removed about 1847, and that perfect piece of architecture, the "old Court-house," built on its site.
In July of this year a Mr. Crane, from Lebanon, Ohio, endeavored to establish a newspaper here.After issuing a few numbers, he was attacked with fever and ague, and, in consequence of this illness, returned to Lebanon, and abandoned his project.No file of his paper has been preserved, and even his name has been forgotten.
In 1806 two brick stores, one story high, were erected on the northeast corner of First and Main by Mr. Cooper, and one, two stories high, on the northeast corner of Main and First by James Steele.The latter building stood till 1865; it gave place to Turner's Opera House.Brown & Sutherland had a frame store on Main, near Monument Avenue, and H. G. Phillips a log store on the southwest corner of First and Jefferson streets.In 1812 he built a brick store, with a handsome residence adjoining, on the southwest corner of Main and Second streets.The brick business houses of 1806 were very small, plain and insignificant affairs, as those who remember the Steele store are aware.But Cooper's and Steele's stores drew business toward the center of town.
James Steele was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1778, and brought to Kentucky by his father in 1788.He came to Dayton from Kentucky in 1805, and was in business till 1807 with his brother-in-law, William McClure.From December, 1807, till 1821 he was in partnership with his wife's brother, Joseph Peirce.Before he came to Dayton, his life was one of hardship and anxiety on a Kentucky farm, where he labored strenuously to support and educate his fatherless brothers and sisters.He earned the capital with which he began his business here by making trips on a flatboat, laden with farm products, from Kentucky to New Orleans.Like his son, Robert W. Steele, he was interested in every effort to promote the prosperity of the town, and gave money time and labor to schools, libraries, churches, benevolent societies, and to all organizations formed to secure public improvements.He was for many years a trustee of the old DaytonAcademy, and was instrumental in securing the employment of E. E. Barney as principal.He was deeply interested in the second building erected by the First Presbyterian Church in 1839 (considered a model church), and gave to it largely of his means and personal attention. He died in 1841, just as it was finished.A friend described him as noted for unyielding integrity, candor, moderation, kindness, and benignity.
For fourteen years, Mr. Steele was associate judge of MontgomeryCounty, elected by the Legislature, and for four years was a member of the Ohio Senate."On the bench he was distinguished for good sense, integrity, and impartiality," wrote Judge Crane."As a legislator, in a period of great public excitement, though firm and consistent in his political opinions, he won the esteem and respect of his opponents by his candor and moderation."In 1824 he was one of the electors for President and Vice-President of the United States for the State of Ohio.His old friend Henry Clay was his candidate.From 1815 to 1822 he was director in the Dayton Bank, and from the latter date till his sudden death, in 1841, president.The stone bank built in 1815, converted into dwellings, still stands on Main Street, next to the High School.In June, 1837, the MuscatineGazette said that the Dayton Bank was the only one in the United States that had refused to respect President Jackson's Treasury order, and it was one of the three banks that continued to pay specie during that time of financial panic.But people preferred to take, and even hoarded, the notes of the bank.Mr. Steele served in the War of 1812.After the disgraceful surrender of General Hull, information was sent to Dayton that the Indians assembled near Piqua in council, emboldened by the success of the British, were dangerous, and threatening to attack the inhabitants.The news came on Saturday, and on Sunday morning at a company of seventy men, commanded by Captain James Steele, were ready to march to the front.The alarm proved groundless, and after a few days the company returned home, but Captain was retained in the service for some time by order of General Harrison, to superintend the building of blockhouses at St. Mary's for the protection of the people of that region.
In November, 1812, James Steele married Phebe, daughter of Isaac Peirce, who served as an officer in the Revolutionary army, and was a member of the Ohio Company.Mr. Peirce came to Marietta, Ohio, from Rhode Island with his family in 1788, and was in 1789 one of the founders of Belpre.Mr. And Mrs. Steele had two sons - Robert Wilbur, born in 1819, died in 1891 and Joseph Peirce, born in 1821, who entered into rest several years before the death of his idolized brother.
Robert W. Steele married, first, Elizabeth Smith, and five children of this marriage survive - Mary D., Sarah S., and Agnes C. Steele, of Dayton; Egbert T., of Spokane, Washington, married Louise White; William C., of Rocky Ford, Colorado, married May Carter.R. W. Steele married, second, Clara P. Steele, who, with one daughter, Charlotte H. Steele, survives him, and lives in Dayton.He was for thirty-three years member of the Board of Education, and for twelve years president; was one of the founders of the Dayton Library Association, and served for many years as director and president.After it was united with the Public Library in 1860, he was, excepting one or two years, till his death in 1891 a member of the Library Board.In 1844 he was one of the incorporators of Cooper Seminary, and a trustee till the school passed into private hands.He was nine years a trustee of MiamiUniversity, appointed by the Governor of Ohio.From 1858 to 1891 he was president of Woodland Cemetery Association; was a member, appointed by the Governor, of the Ohio State Board of Charities for five years; was actively engaged all his life in promoting agricultural and horticultural societies; was trustee of the Montgomery County Children's Home for nine years; was an elder in the Third Street Presbyterian Church for thirty-seven years, and a member of that church for fifty years.In the early history of railroads he was much interested in promoting those improvements, and was a subscriber to the stock of all the railroads, excepting three, entering Dayton.During the Rebellion he was active in promoting enlistments, and in aiding in providing for the comfort of the soldiers and their families.He was appointed by the Governor of Ohio and served as a member of the Military Committee of Montgomery County; was a member of the Sanitary Commission, and Chairman of the Citizen's Committee to assist in raising of the Ninety-third Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry.He loved his native town with a personal love almost as strong and warm as that which he felt for relatives and individual friends.
The DaytonAcademy was incorporated in 1807 by James Welsh, Daniel C. Cooper, William McClure, David Reid, John Folkerth, John T. Tennery, Benjamin Van Cleve, and James Hanna.Mr. Hanna was an influential citizen in early days.The family left many years ago.John Folkerth, one of the incorporators of the academy, was also one of the incorporators , in 1805, of the Library Society.He was elected first Mayor of Dayton under the charter of 1829.He was a man of sterling integrity, and a great reader of good books.He served in the War of 1812 as first sergeant in Captain Steele's company.In the early history of the town the greater part of the deeds were drawn by him, and his legible but peculiar handwriting is familiar to many.His daughter, Mrs. William Atkin, and his granddaughter, Mrs. D. W. Iddings, are widely known in Dayton.
Besides donations in money, Mr. Cooper presented for the use of the academy two lots on St. Clair Street, opposite Cooper Park, just north of Park Presbyterian Church, on which, in 1808, a two story brick building was erected by subscription.He also gave a bell.In 1807 and 1808 a debating club met on winter evenings in the academy.
This was the only boys' school in Dayton for many years.The first teacher was William M. Smith.He and his sons were prominent citizens.In his contract with the trustees he agreed to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, the classics, and the sciences.Teaching in elocution was also given prominence.In 1815 Mr. Smith had for assistant Rev. James B. Findlay, who afterwards became a distinguished Methodist preacher.About 1820 Mr. Smith was succeeded by Gideon McMillan, a graduate of the University of Glasgow, who in his advertisements made claims to great scholarship.Succeeding teachers were Captain McMullin ; James H. Mitchell, a graduate of Yale, who afterwards followed the profession of civil engineer, and was leading citizen for many years ; E. E. Barney, a graduate of Union College, New York, and a remarkable teacher and man.Mr. Barney, by the introduction of the analytical method, exercised an important influence on our public schools.Teachers educated by him carried these methods into the schools in advance of most places in the West, and gave them in their early history a high reputation.The year before Mr. Barney came, 1833, the old academy had been sold and a new one erected on the southwest corner of Fourth and Wilkinson streets.The trustees this year were Aaron Baker, Job Haines, Obadiah B. Conover, James Steele, and John W. Van Cleve.In 1840 Collins Wight, long known as a dealer in lumber, taught in the academy.He was succeeded in 1844 by Milo G. Williams, a teacher of large experience and reputation, who remained till 1850, when the academy was deeded to the Board of Education.
Among the early settlers of Dayton were Henry Bacon, Luther Bruen, and Jonathan Harshman - very unlike, but, nevertheless, all typical men.Mr. Bacon was a successful lawyer, and a man of unusual legal as well as literary acquirements.He served as prosecuting attorney, and ably discharged the duties of the office.He was endowed with much force and keenness of intellect, and "waked up sometimes, in addressing a jury, especially as a prosecutor of criminal cases, to flashes of eloquence."Two grandsons of Henry Bacon are prominent in Dayton - General Samuel B. and J. McLain Smith.
Luther Bruen was born in New Jersey in 1783, and came to Dayton in 1804.He was an influential and useful citizen, and noted for benevolence as well as for business talent.He has a number of descendants - Frank, Robert, and Mary Bruen, Mrs. Sella Wright, David B., Quincy, and Thomas Corwin, Mrs. Susie Zeller, Mrs. Dr. Pauley, Mrs. Charles D. Mead, Miss Mary and Miss Martha and William Brady.
Mr. Bruen was a practical abolitionist in times when to advocate antislavery principles required both moral and physical courage and enlightened views.A number of the founders of our city came to Ohio before 1808 because they did not want to bring up their children in a slave State.But there was little active opposition to what the father of one of them called "that great oppression" till 1832, when a respectable, industrious colored man, much liked by every one, a refugee from Kentucky who had lived here three years, was, in spite of protests and every effort for his legal protection on the part of the people, arrested by a party of slave catchers.The law delivered the negro over to his master.A great deal of sympathy and indignation were excited by this iniquitous proceeding, and citizens offered to buy his freedom and prevent his separation from his freeborn wife.The mast declined to sell, when his agents wrote to him, so valuable a servant, and came himself to take "Black Ben" to Kentucky.Arrived at Cincinnati, the captive was confined for the night in the fourth-story room of a hotel."All being safe, as they thought, about , when they were in a sound sleep, poor Ben threw himself from the window, which is upwards of forty feet from the pavement."He was dreadfully injured, but lived two days."A poor and humble being of an unfortunate 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.Mr. D. left this morning with the dead body of his slave, to which he told me he would give a decent burial in his own churchyard.Please tell Ben's wife of these circumstances."Strange to say, the words first quoted are from a letter which Ben's master requested a friend to write to the DaytonJournal. Poor Ben's capture and suicide were not forgotten in Dayton.
Twenty-four people of color left Dayton on October 21, 1824, for Hayti.Their expenses were paid by the Haytian government, which was inviting negro emigrants from the United States, and sent an agent to New York to take charge of the large numbers who were willing to go; but citizens afforded aid, and felt much sympathy for those who went from Dayton.The departure was a scene of the greatest excitement - wild weeping, wailing, and shouting, and lamentations over the separation for life from friends and home; but nearly all who went from here soon found their way back again to Dayton.A colonization society was formed November 24, 1826, and 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.
In 1839 Luther Bruen was able to form an antislavery society of which he was elected president.On South Main Street, west side, between Fourth and Fifth streets, a church known as the Union or Newlight Church, which was largely built with money subscribed by Mr. Bruen, was erected.Here lectures by famous antislavery leaders were frequently delivered.The meetings were frequently interrupted and the speakers treated with violence and indignity by angry proslavery crowds.In 1836 Dr. Birney and Rev. Mr. Rankin, who were invited to address an audience at the Union Church, barely escaped with their lives, and were hidden away for some hours, one at the residence of Dr. H. Jewett, a leading physician and active Abolitionist, and the other at the home of his relative, Dr. John Steele, who, though not an Abolitionist, believed in justice and free speech. The mob destroyed or injured the houses of Abolitionists and negroes, and tore to pieces the Bible, and broke the windows and stove at the church.Side by side in the Journal with the account of the organization of the antislavery society may be seen one of the coal-black little pictures representing a bare-headed colored man, carrying a bundle hung on a stick, and with negro quarters in the background, making all the speed for the free States, which so often at this date appeared in the Dayton newspapers. The poor fellow is described as "Likely and pleasant when spoken to, easily alarmed, and calling himself Washington, though that was not his name."
Jonathan Harshman came to MontgomeryCounty from Maryland, at the age of twenty-four, in 1805, and purchased forty acres of land in what is now MadriverTownship; but he and his family are so identified with Dayton that his life is part of the history of the town.The first three years after his arrival he spent in clearing his land, with the assistance of his neighbors, helping them in turn.In 1808 he married Susannah Rench, daughter of John Rench, and active and enterprising business man, who did much to promote the prosperity of the town.Among the latter's descendants are William H. Johanna, David C., and Charles Rench.
Mrs. Jonathan Harshman was, like many of the pioneer women, of whom their grandchildren are so proud, a strong character, energetic, industrious, and capable in many directions.In the period now reached there were not only housekeeping, cooking, and sewing to attend to, but cows to milk, butter to churn, poultry to care for, the smokehouse to fill with hams, sausage, and pickled pork; the vegetable garden to cultivate - in town as well as in the country.All these things were the duties of the housekeeper, and to these multifarious labors spinning and weaving were added.The spinning-wheel and loom were found in most houses.Many yards of linsey-woolsey were woven and made into summer clothes for children and grown people; while wool was woven into blankets, dress goods, cloth, and flannels for winter by the mistress of the family and her daughters.The "help," if any was employed, was some farmer's daughter, a friend, or acquaintance, who was literally one of the family, though she received wages.Frequently the help was a bound girl, an orphan, whom the county was obliged to support, and whom the commissioners placed in a private family on the condition that she should be free at eighteen and receive from her employers, on leaving them, a certain amount of money, clothes, and specified articles of furniture.No wages were paid her, but she received for her work food, clothing, and lodging.
In addition to his farming, Mr. Harshman engaged in milling and distilling, and opened with John Rench a store, trading for country produce, which they sent in flatboats for sale to Cincinnati or New Orleans.He accumulated a large fortune.In 1845 he was elected president of the Dayton Bank, and served until 1850.He was a member of the Twenty-fourth General Assembly of Ohio.In earlier years he was a staunch Federalist, and later an ardent Whig.In 1840 the famous Harrison convention was held in Dayton on the 10th of September.General Harrison, on his journey to Dayton, reached Jonathan Harshman's, five miles from town, on the evening of the 9th, and spent the night there.Early in the morning, his escort, which had been encamped at Fairview, marched to Mr. Harshman's residence, and halted till for breakfast, when it got in motion under command of Joseph Barnett, of Dayton, and other marshals from ClarkCounty.Mr. Harshman died in 1850, and his wife in 1839.They had eight children. Elizabeth married Israel Huston, Catherine married Valentine Winters, Jonathan married Abigail Hiveling.These are all deceased, as are Mary, who became the wife of George Gorman, and Susannah, who married Daniel Beckel.Three sons - Joseph, George W. and Reuben - survive.
In the fall election of 1808 one hundred and ninety-six votes were cast at the Dayton Court-house.This year the first brick residence erected in town, a substantial, comfortable, two-story dwelling, was built by Henry Brown on the west side of Main Street on the alley between Second and Third streets.It was occupied until 1863 as a dwelling, and from then till it was torn down as a newspaper office.Mr. Brown kept in his stable a cannon, which, not so much because it was taken down to the river bank by an excited crowd and fired on the very rare occasions when there was anything to celebrate in Dayton, as on account of its imposing name, "Mad Anthony," was an object of awe and curiosity to all the boys and girls in town. Mr. Brown was engaged in trade with the Indians, and had obtained this cannon from them in exchange for his merchandise.It had been abandoned in the woods by one of the regiments of the Western army.As it was the only cannon in town for many years, it was quite an important possession.Finally it burst, killing the patriotic gunner who was firing it.At one time a company of mounted rangers was formed in Dayton, and called for the cannon the Mad Anthony Troop.When Mr. Brown first brought it here, it used to be fired on the vacant lots on Main Street, opposite his house.
Rev. James Welsh, M.D., and Dr. John Elliot, a retired army surgeon, both already mentioned, were interesting characters of this period.Dr. Welsh was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church from 1804 to 1817, and also practiced medicine and kept a drug store.Notices to delinquent patients over his signature, like the following, frequently appeared in the newspapers:"I must pay my debts.To do this is impracticable unless those who are indebted to me pay me what they owe.All such are once more, 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." The death of Dr. Elliot, who died in 1809, was considered a great loss to the community, as he was socially and professionally popular.The Repertory contained a eulogistic obituary, and not only citizens, but large numbers from the country, attended his funeral.He was buried with martial honors, and Captain James Steele's troop of horse and Captain Paul Butler's company of infantry headed the procession to the Sixth Street cemetery.These two military organizations were probably formed for defense against the Indians, at this date restive and threatening.
Between 1808 and 1810 Dayton began to grow and prosper.Two editors, a minister, a lawyer, a school-teacher, and three physicians were numbered among the inhabitants, and there were five stores and three taverns, all doing well.A square or two on First Street, and the west side of Main Street from Newcom'sTavern to the Court-house alley, except the corner on which stood McCullum's Tavern, and the site of Reid's Inn, were occupied by residences, separated from each other by several vacant lots.The east side of Main Street was not built up, and was covered with hazel bushes and wild fruit-trees, except the lots from the High School alley to the corner of Main and First streets, which were occupied by Grimes's Tavern and Cooper & Compton's and Steele & Peirce's stores.The first-named store front on Main Street.Dwellings were built close to the pavement with no ground between, but there were large yards at the side and back of the houses.Streets were not graveled, no care was taken of walks, and fences were of the stake-and-rider or post-and-rail order.
Grimes's Tavern stood on the south corner of the first alley south of Monument Avenue.It was a one-story-and-a-half log house, and in the alley back of it were a log barn and feed-yard.A few years later, when it had ceased to be kept by its original owner, several frame additions and a large dining-room having been added, it became a popular place for parties and balls.Colonel John Grimes, the proprietor, was the father of Alexander Grimes and the grandfather of Charles G. Grimes.Alexander Grimes was for many years (1831-1843) cashier of the Dayton Bank, and also in 1819 a director.No one was more thoroughly identified with this bank than he.On the 1st of January, 1843, he, as agent, closed up the affairs of the bank.At an early day he was in partnership with Steele and Peirce, under the name of Grimes & Company.In 1817 the firm was dissolved.Mr. Grimes married, first, Miss Gordon, and second, Miss Maria Greene, a member of a leading Dayton family.In connection with Edward Davies, he was trustee of the estate of David Zeigler Cooper, heir of D. C. Cooper.The property rapidly increased in value, and was also a great benefit to Dayton as a result of their prudent and liberal management.Mr. Grimes served in the War of 1812.
Reid's Inn stood on the west side of Main Street, between First and Second streets, the present site of the FirstBaptistChurch.The proprietor earned his title by service in the War of 1812.He was in command of the First Battalion of the First Regiment of Ohio Militia.The inn parlor was a favorite place for public meetings, in which Colonel Reid was a leading spirit, and in the large barnyard for years the menagerie and museums which visited the town annually always gave their exhibitions.The "Inn or House of Entertaining," - as, to escape the tavern license of ten dollars, it was called in the advertisement inserted in the newspaper - kept by Colonel Reid was a frame building two stories high, with a belfry for the dinner bell.On the large sign which, after the War of 1812, hung in a square frame from a tall post on the edge of the sidewalk, was painted a portrait of Commodore Lawrence, and a scroll bearing the words, "Don't give up the ship."The original small sign of the tavern, "Reid's Inn," hung below the larger one.Mr. Samuel Forrer, who staid at the inn in 1818, when he spent some time here, not then having become a permanent resident, "enjoying the hospitalities of the place, and the pleasures derived from the manly sports of those times," describes Colonel Reid as, "a good man and excellent landlord."To Colonel Reid's very competent and energetic wife was, of course, due the bountiful, well-cooked meals and comfortable beds of Reid's Inn.
On the 18th of September, 1808, William McClure and George Smith began to edit and publish the second Dayton newspaper, the Repertory.It contained four pages of two columns each, was eight by twelve and one-half inches in size, and printed with old-fashioned type on a second-hand press.When five numbers had appeared, it was suspended till 1809, when Henry Disbrow and William McClure revived it as a twelve-by-twenty-inch sheet.It was published on Second Street, between Main and Jefferson streets, till 1810, when it ceased to exist.It was principally filled with foreign news several months old, but some local items can be gleaned from the Public Library.Paul D. Butler advertised his "large and commodious house for sale; will answer for almost any business; good well and pump at the door, frame stable."Henry Disbrow offers a house and two lots, agreeing to take in payment "such produce as will suit the Orleans market," instead of cash, describing the property as "an elegant two-story frame house [not all the houses were log at this date], forty-five feet front and twenty-four feet back; a good kitchen adjoining; good well water at the door; good nail factory and stable; situation good for either tavern or store; post-and-rail fence."Advertisements are inserted by John Compton, H. G. Phillips, and Steele & Peirce, merchants; John Dodson, carpenter; John Hanna, weaving establishment, south end of Main Street; john Strain & Co., nail factory; James Beck, blue-dying establishment; David Steele, cooper-shop, First Street near St. Clair; Thomas Nutt, tailor; Matthew Patton, cabinet-maker.The advertisement of Mr. Patton is found in every number of the paper, showing that he had something of the modern enterprise in this respect.He served as first corporal in Captain Steele's company in 1812.He lived to an old age in Dayton and was highly respected and esteemed.He was the father of Captain William Patton, and has several grandchildren.
One of the earliest settlers and business men was Abram Darst, who came here from Virginia in 1805."He was a man of sterling integrity, highly esteemed by the community, and occupied many positions of trust and usefulness.Mr. Darst died in 1865, aged eighty-three.His wife lived to be ninety-five, dying in 1882.She was a remarkable character, a typical pioneer woman, full of energy, and gifted with the faculty of taking excellent care of a large household, and at the same time assisting her husband in his business, as was the almost universal custom in that day."Life here was very much what it is at the present day among educated people in many a far Western settlement, who have gone west to make their fortunes.American women, when there is a need of special effort, always prove that their sex has not degenerated during the past one hundred years.Many a lesson of cheerfulness, patience, industry, and thrift might be learned from the laborious, but contented, and, in the end, prosperous lives of the wives of the founders of Dayton.One of our wealthiest old merchants attributed his success largely to the assistance of his wife, brought up in a fashionable circle in an Eastern city.What was true of her was true of many others.When Robert Edgar was absent in the army during the war of 1812, his wife remained alone with her family in her lonely cabin, on the site of the Water Works, not only doing all the work of the household herself, but taking charge of the farm, so that when her husband returned things were not much less prosperous with them when he left.But think of the burden of responsibility, labor, and anxiety that Mrs. Edgar and other wives of soldiers of 1812 bore ion that dark era.Mr. And Mrs. Darst had ten children, of whom Miss Phebe and Mr. John W. Darst alone survive.Julia married James Perrine; Christina, W. B. Dix; Mary, Jacob Wilt; Sarah, W. C. Davis; Martha, George M. Dixon; and Napoleon B., Susannah, daughter of Valentine Winters, so that Abram Darst has many descendants in Dayton.We can only mention A. D. Wilt, Charles W., Fred T., Johnson P., Samuel B., and Rolla Darst, Mrs. Edward Fuller, Mrs. Joseph E. Bimm, Miss Fanny and Miss Mary Dixon, Mrs. George W. Shaw, Mrs. E. E. Barney, Miss Martha Perrine, who are grandchildren.