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Early Dayton
Chapter Ten: Dayton From 1840 to 1896



THE Beginning of “the Forties” – Distinguished Visitors – Schools – Oregon – West Dayton – Banks – Police Department – New Jail and Court-House – Cemeteries – Dayton Bar – General Robert C. Schenck – Clement L. Vallandigham – Thomas Brown – Prominent Physicians – Public Library – Churches – Floods – Cholera – The Mexican War – First Telegraph Message – Gasand Electric Light – Railroads – Street-Railroads – Fire Department – Water-Works – Dayton Orphan Asylum – Young Women’s League – St. Elizabeth Hospital – Protestant Deaconess Hospital – Musical Societies - Literary Clubs – Improvements – Manufacturing and Mercantile Interests – Natural Gas – Newspapers – Periodicals – David Stout – Ebenezer Thresher – Valentine Winters – Frederick Gebhart – Robert W. Steele.


      By the beginning of “the forties” many of the toilers who had made the early history of Dayton slept in the little green graveyard on Fifth Street.  There were a few left – old men and women who told the fireside tales, or watched with quiet wonder the enterprises of the new generation, treading with careful steps the newly made streets and pavements, or venturing out on the smooth roads, with bridges, toll-gates, and taverns, that were being built in all directions.

      This bright, hospitable little town seems to have had some distinguished visitors.  In 1842 it was enlivened by another convention and honored by the presence of the great Clay.  Again all were made welcome.  Receptions, banquets, banner presentations, and speeches were the order of the day.  In the autumn of 1843 John Quincy Adams passed through Dayton on his way to Cincinnati.

      The early settlers had ever been anxious to secure for their children the advantages of civilization which they had willingly abandoned for themselves, and now the public schools, under the care of a faithful board of directors, were getting a foothold in spite of hard times, for in 1842 four schools were opened, - two in houses built for them in 1837 and two in rented rooms, - but were thriftily closed before the end of the second quarter to avoid debt; and it was not until 1849 that the full school year was reached.  But there was no lack of fine private schools.  Milo G. Williams took charge of the Dayton Academy in 1844, and taught there until 1850; and in 1845 Cooper Female Seminary was opened, in charge of E. E. Barney, and at once became known throughout Ohio, by reason of the strong personality, magnetism, and culture of Mr. Barney, as an attractive and scholarly institution – qualities which also distinguished it under the management of Miss Cox, whose name is held in thankful remembrance by many of the brightest women of Dayton and other Ohio cities.

      The Roman Catholic Church in 1847 added St. Joseph’s to its parochial schools, and in 1849 St. Mary’s Institute.

      In the spring of 1850 the Central High School of Dayton was opened.  In the fall it was located in the old academy building, where it remained until 1857, when a new building was put up for it on the same ground – on the southwest corner of Fourth and Wilkinson streets, where the Central District Schools now stands.  James Campbell, who was afterwards superintendent of schools, and who was a dear lover of books, served as principal for eight years.  Miss Mary G. Dickson, upon whom much practical work must have fallen; James Turpin, whose name stood for music in Dayton; and, later, dear old Jean Bartholomew, genial, easy, and far from a fiery Frenchman, completed the first short list of teachers, whose names, “like a waft from the gracious spring,” take back to youth many staid and sober men and women of to-day.  Since then the roll of teachers and pupils has lengthened and the curriculum broadened, but the same spirit of zeal, energy, and enthusiasm rules in the new High School building, occupied since 1892, and named in honor of one of the best friends of the schools – Robert W. Steele.  The new building is situated on the southeast corner of Main Street and Monument Avenue, and is one of the finest in the country, having cost over a quarter of a million dollars.

      A normal school was opened in the autumn of 1869 for the higher education and training of teachers.  The free night schools were established in 1877.  A manual-training school was opened January 2, 1896, in the Central District School building.

      There are now nineteen district schools, with twenty-nine buildings conveniently located in the various parts of the city.  Many of these buildings are large, handsome in appearance, and well equipped with modern improvements.

      In 1845 Dayton began to spread itself.  That part of the city called “Oregon” was platted; also, about the same time, the part lying west, between Wolf Creek and the Germantown pike, which was called “Miami City,” now “West Dayton.”  The common from 1845 to 1855 was the unenclosed ground west of Ludlow Street to the river and south of the old graveyard.

      The warfare of President Andrew Jackson upon the United States Bank and the refusal of the Ohio Legislature to renew its charter compelled the closing, on the 27th day of January, 1843, of one of the soundest banks in the country – the old Dayton Banks.  Dayton remained without banking facilities for more than two years.  In 1845 two strong, conservative banks were started – the Dayton Bank and the Bank of Dayton.  Fifty years of fair business prosperity, with the advantages of the banking law of 1863, have since given us a number of reliable and successful banks.

      In 1841 an ordinance was passed providing that for the protection of the city two constables should be elected each year in addition to the marshal and deputy.  It would seem that Dayton was once a very good little city, but in 1850 sixty men were added to this body.  That Dayton, as a certain small boy said of himself, “grew bigger and bigger and badder and badder,” is indicated by the organization in 1873 of the metropolitan police force, with a chief, two lieutenants, twenty-six patrolmen, three roundsmen, and three turnkeys, the arrangement being similar to that now in force.  The city had no prison before 1858, its few offenders being confined in the county jail.  Then an old engine-house on Main Street, between Fifth and Sixth, was fitted with cells and so used.  In 1872 the United Brethren church, near the corner of Sixth and Logan streets, was bought and remodeled for a city prison.  In 1875 the county commissioners vacated the stone jail on Main Street, and it has since then been used as a work-house.

      The old court-house, on the northwest corner of Main and Third streets, was completed in 1850.  “An exceptionally fine reproduction of Grecian architecture, it was at the time of its erection the finest building in the State, and is still regarded as one of the notable buildings of the city.”  The new Court-house on Main Street, north of the old one, was completed in 1884.

      It was decided in the spring of 1869, that a new jail was needed for the county.  It was placed west of the Court-house, on Third Street, and completed in February, 1874.

      John W. Van Cleve, of whom a biographical sketch has been given in a previous chapter, had a very tender feeling for this corner of the earth, which his father had helped to hew out of the wilderness.  He was one of those who “call every bush my cousin.”  Original in character, odd in appearance, the jolly band of children who followed his burly figure through many holiday excursions grew wiser, happier, and healthier.  Men and women found in him an intelligent, cultivated, and agreeable companion, and a very true and loyal friend.  As a citizen he was advanced, enterprising, and of unbending integrity.  As previously stated, to him more than to any other we are indebted for out beautiful Woodland Cemetery.  He made the suggestion of a rural cemetery, and from the organization of the Woodland Cemetery Association, in 1842, to the time of his death, in 1858, served as its president and gave to its affairs an amount of labor and watchful supervision which money could not have purchased.  In June, 1843, the cemetery was opened, being the third rural cemetery of any importance established in the United States.  Robert W. Steele became the president upon the death of Mr. Van Cleve, and served with the same unselfish sagacity until his death in 1891.  Since the death of Mr. Steele, Jonathan H. Winters has been the president of the association.

      The ground for St. Henry’s Cemetery was purchased by Archbishop Purcell and used as a burial-place by the Roman Catholics until 1872, when land was purchased for Calvary Cemetery, two and a half miles south of the city, on a commanding bluff, with a wide outlook over the neighboring hills, valleys, and river.

      The Hebrew Congregation purchased an acre on Brown Street in 1851, which is no longer in use, a new cemetery having been located near Calvary on the bluffs.

      The first member of the Dayton bar, Judge Crane, with his well-trained mind, legal learning, courteous and commanding bearing, simple life, and kind and helpful friendliness, had unconsciously done much to mold the character and ambitions of the young lawyers who were his companions and successors, so that the spirit of integrity came to be a characteristic of the early Dayton bar.  Of the members of this early bar, Charles Anderson became Governor of Ohio, four were judges, two members of Congress, and ten members of the Ohio Legislature.  Among the later members Judge Haynes is perhaps the oldest and most respected.  John A. McMahon, who represented the Third Ohio District in Congress for three terms, and Lewis B. Gunckel, who served in Congress and other political capacities, and whose services in connection with the location of the Soldiers’ Home in Dayton and its management are especially appreciated, stand at the head of the profession at present.

      If “the baton of a marechal is hidden in every soldier’s knapsack,” there must have been much in the saddle-bags which young Robert C. Schenck brought to Dayton in 1831 of which even he had no knowledge, for his musings as he followed the narrow trail through the quiet wood were only of the fortune he must have make and of how would some day write his name beside those of Crane, Holt, Anderson, and Thruston.  The youth was not ill equipped – with a nature which time showed to be strong and deep, unlimited energy, a brain full of wit, and a mind original and logical, stored and trained by six years at Oxford, Ohio, where he had graduated first in his class, and in the office of one of the most distinguished legal practitioners of Ohio – Thomas Corwin, of Lebanon.  The saddle-bags contained one very tangible treasure in the sealed letter from Mr. Corwin to Judge Crane – the “open sesame” to needed opportunity, for when the Judge had read it and taken a keen, quiet look at the slim, pale-faced, pale-haired young man, he invited him to become his partner.  So, instead of waiting and hoping for a client, he had for the next three years the care of one of the largest practices in Ohio, Judge Crane having been called to Washington soon after.

      In politics Mr. Schenck was an ardent Whig.  He was a captivating speaker, and did yeoman service in the Harrison campaign.  In 1841 he was elected to the Ohio Legislature, from which and other Whig members resigned in order to defeat the Democratic “gerrymander bill.”  The next year he as returned to the Legislature.  In 1843 Mr. Schenck was elected to represent this district in Congress, where he spent eight active years and was ranked among the foremost men of his party.  In 1851 he was appointed United States Minister to Brazil.  Having performed some important diplomatic services, he returned to Dayton in 1856.

      Robert C. Schenck was said by Lincoln to have been the first man who in a public address name him for the Presidency.

      When “with a voice that shook the land, the guns of Sumter spoke,” Mr. Schenck offered his services to the Government and was made a brigadier-general.  He commanded a brigade at the battle of the Bull Run, and did good service by his “gallantry in action and coolness and discretion in retreat.”  In the second battle of Bull Run he was shot in the wrist while urging his men on with uplifted sword.  While suffering from this wound he received the commission of major-general.  Still unfit for active service, he filled a difficult place with sagacity and skill.  Being again elected to Congress in his old Third District, in 1863, he resigned his commission in the army.  It has been said that “a history of the course of General Schenck in the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congress would be a complete history of the military legislation of the country through the most eventful years of the War to its close.”

      Appointed by General Grant Minister to Great Britain in 1871, he represented the United States at the Court of St. James for five years.  During this period he was also a member of the Joint High Commission providing for the Geneva Conference.  And to the zeal and ability, tact and experience, or Robert C. Schenck America is very much indebted for that peaceful settlement.  This was the crowning achievement in the life of an old statesman.

      It seems well to tell the story of General Schenck’s life at some length, not because it is full of interest, as it is, - not because he served his country well, as he did, - but because he belonged to Dayton – was her most distinguished citizen: his fame was hers; he love the place, cast his first and last vote at her polls, and now sleeps on one of her sunny hillsides with the companions of his youth.

      To the older men of Dayton there are few names that bring more stirring memories that that of Clement L. Vallandigham, who came to Dayton in 1847, - a lawyer by profession, by instinct a politician.  He had the qualities of his ancestors, - Scotch-Irish and Huguenot, - ability, courage, ambition, and dogged determination, qualities which, after a series of defeats, gave him a seat in the Congress of 1856, and kept him there until 1862.  Vallandigham’s opposition to the War was so radical, his principles so boldly declared, his influence in his party so great, as to induce his arrest by the Government in May, 1863, his trial by a military commission, and banishment to the South.  In June of the next year he ran the blockade from Wilmington to Bermuda, and from there to Canada, where he remained at Windsor until the following spring.  While there he was nominated by acclamation Democratic candidate for Governor of Ohio, and defeated by John Brough, of which Senator Sherman had just said, “I have always regarded Brough’s election in Ohio upon the issue distinctly made, not only as to the prosecution of the War, but in support of the most vigorous measures to conduct it, as having an important influence in favor of the Union caused equal to that of the battle of the War.”  In June, 1864, Mr. Vallandigham returned to his home in Dayton, where he was received by an immense crowd of sympathetic and enthusiastic friends.  From this time he was again a familiar and striking figure at Democratic meetings and conventions.  In May, 1871, he presented to the convention in Dayton his “New Departure” resolutions.  Soon after, he delivered the last and probably most powerful speech of his life.  Mr. Vallandigham formed a law-partnership in 1870 with Judge Haynes.  In June of the following year he was leading attorney for the defense in an important murder trial at Lebanon.  While demonstrating his theory in regard to the alleged murder, he accidentally shot himself, and died the next morning.  Then once again the name of Vallandigham brought together a great concourse of people.  This time they followed him quietly, and left him sadly in the peace which comes to all – under the sod.

      Among the portraits in the large history of Dayton, Ohio, published in 1889, is one with the trembling, unsteady signature of an old man – “Thomas Brown.”  Life was still attractive and full of interest to this bright-eyed, active, helpful, genial old man when the angel of death led him gently over the threshold into the promised land one day in May, 1894.  Mr. Brown had been one of Dayton’s best citizens since 1828.  “A man of public spirit enterprises,” he was a Christian and gentleman of the old school.  Born in 1800, Mr. Brown had seen the century from the beginning almost to the end.

      In 1840 the medical profession was represented in Dayton by such old-school gentlemen and positive characters as Dr. John Steele, Dr. Job Haines, and Drs. Hibberd and Adams Jewett.  Later came many others, among them Dr. Clarke McDermont, who served the soldiers with heart and hand; Dr. Armor, and Dr. John Davis.  Of the charter members of the Montgomery County Medical Society, organized in 1849, only two survive – Dr. Carey, lovingly remembered by many friends and patients here, now a citizen of Indianapolis, and Dr. J. C. Reeve, whose keen, sensitive, scholarly face is still a familiar one among us.

      Perhaps, among the many who spend long summer hours under trees in Cooper Park, idly watching the little crowd that passes along the sun-flecked walk, and in and out of the open door of the Library, there are a few who wonder what it is – this strange hunger for books, not knowing it was that which made the beautiful building possible, and stored it with treasures to which all are made welcome; for it is a very common instinct among those who love books to pass their blessings on.  This feeling led to the establishment of libraries and lyceums, and to the organization in 1847 of the Dayton Library Association, which soon started on a pleasant and useful career, with an opening list of a thousand books.  In a little own of scarcely twenty thousand people a library association was a luxury that must be paid for with work and self-denial.  The cheerful givers were called upon again and again, while other friends labored earnestly with tongue and pen, that the good work might go on.  The money which had been gathered by taxation for school library purposes was used in Dayton for a central library, which started in 1855 with one thousand two hundred and fifty carefully selected books free to all.  In 1860 it was determined that the public interest would be best served by the union of the two libraries; so the Library Association transferred it valuable library and furniture to the Board of Education.  The united books, the cheerful room, and every-ready librarian, and the prosperity of an assured income, combined then to make the Dayton Public Library the object of pride, pleasure, and profit to the citizens of Dayton which it is now.  In 1888 the library was removed to the stone, fire-proof building in Cooper Park – one of the finest in the West – which it now occupies; and in its commodious quarters, with more than thirty-five thousand catalogued books, and a well-equipped museum, it is the center of attraction for a large number of citizens.

      Dayton has never been lacking in churches.  In 1842 Dr. Barnes was preaching in the First Presbyterian Church, the second that had been built on the corner of Second and Ludlow streets, where a handsome stone one now stands.  The Third Street Presbyterians built a brick church on the corner of Third and Ludlow streets in 1842, which they occupied until it was torn down to make way for the present handsome stone structure.  The town clock which many remember on the old Second Presbyterian steeple, was purchased and first placed on the tower of Wesley Chapel in 1851.  The First Baptist Church had finished an edifice on the corner of Jefferson and Fourth streets, where they remained until the removal to their present quarters on Main Street.  Christ Episcopal Church, on Jefferson Street, was then almost ten years old, and was not abandoned until 1874, when a new one was completed on First Street.  The First United Brethren Church was organized in 1847 in a small room in the Oregon Engine-House.  Their first church building was erected in 1852 on Sixth Street near Logan, and served the congregation until 1873, when the lot on Fifth Street between Main and Jefferson was bought, on which their church now stands.  The Methodists, who were among the earliest settlers of Dayton, had already outgrown two churches when a new brick one was erected on Third Street in 1849.  In 1866 more room was needed by the congregation, and a lot on the corner of Fourth and Ludlow streets was purchased and a new building dedicated in 1870.  The First Reform Church had finished their building on Ludlow between Second and Third streets in 1840.  The First English Lutherans built their first house of worship on the southwest corner of Fourth and Jefferson streets in 1841.  Their present church building was erected in 1860, and dedicated in January, 1861.  The first Hebrew congregation was organized in 1850.  They met in old Dayton Bank building until 1863, when they purchased the old Baptist church.  Since then a handsome synagogue has been built on Jefferson between First and Second streets.  The first Roman Catholic family came to Dayton in 1831.  By 1837 the Franklin Street church was built, and in 1873 a very large new one just east of the old site was dedicated.  The first church for colored people was organized in 1842.  From these various beginnings have sprung many churches and missions, until now, looking down from the surrounding hills, nothing is more striking than the number of slender spires in the once little town below that has come to be called the “City of Churches.”

      Dayton was much terrified and incommoded by the flood of 1847.  Some money was lost, but no lives.  The heavy rainstorms of September, 1866, again produced a flood, which cost, in losses to individuals and public property, no less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  After this disaster the waterway was broadened and the bridges lengthened.  Another general flood occurred in February, 1883, and an extraordinarily heavy storm visited the city in 1886.

      In the summer of 1849, by a cholera epidemic Dayton lost more than two hundred of her people.

      For the first half century Dayton, like a happy young mother, kept her children close about her; but the modern restless feeling began to come.  Some talked of the gold of California, and took the long and toilsome trip as if it were a journey to Fairyland.  Some talked of politics and some of war.  Blaine says “There was not in the whole country a single citizen of intelligence who was indifferent to Clay or Jackson.”  A little later the men of Dayton were watching the battles of the political giants with the same eager interest.  Some had been captivated by the “Fifty-four forty, or fight” campaign cry.  Others would have left that question to time.  Some were for the annexation of Texas and the acquisition of Mexican territory.  Others felt that a war with Mexico would have no excuse of justice or necessity.  Yet when the election of Mr. Polk gave an unquestionable verdict in favor of annexation, and when on May 13, 1846, was with Mexico was formally declared, the citizens of Dayton sprang forward to defend the country, and Dayton became a rallying-point for the enlistment of soldiers.  The militia of the county, organized as the First Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Adam Speice, was attached to the Tenth Division of Ohio Militia.  Public meetings were held and offices opened for recruiting.

      On the 20th of May the First Brigade of the Tenth Division was ordered to assemble at Dayton with a view to immediate organization for service.  As the numbers of the companies were not quite full, the National Guard, Captain Hormell, began recruiting on the 26th at their armory; the Dayton Dragoons, changed to Dayton Riflemen, Captain Giddings, at McCann’s store.  The Riflemen and National Guard were the first to start for Camp Washington, the rendezvous for Ohio volunteers.  They boarded the canal-boats, amid music and cheering, just at sunset on the 4th of June.  It is safe to say that the most of Dayton watched the slow boats towed off and the bright new banners vanish in the distance.  There were sad hearts, of course; but many also who were eager to follow.  So by June 9 another company was ready to leave, but could not be accepted by the Government, too many men having already volunteered for the necessities of the service.  By August the three Ohio regiments were beside the Rio Grande, and later took a brave part in the battle of Monterey.  Eight Dayton men were lost in this battle.

      In 1847 the Fifteenth Regiment of regulars was raised to serve during the war.  In one of the companies there were twenty-two Dayton men.  Edward A. King was appointed captain of this company, which left Dayton on the 24th of April, 1847, a great crowd watching its departure also.  The time of the first two companies having expired, they were mustered out of service at New Orleans June 11 and 12.  Company B reached Dayton on the 26th with a tattered flag and but forty men; Company C, a few days later.  The people turned out from town and country – five thousand of them – and waited at the foot of Main Street with the militia, music, and guns until the slow little canal-boats brought them back.  In response to the next call for troops the “Dayton German Grenadiers” were raised, Capt John Werner.  These were with Scott at Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, and the city of Mexico.  In July, 1848, they returned with only thirty-six men.  Peace was proclaimed by President Polk July 4, 1848.  The military spirit seems to have lingered in Dayton long after the end of the war, and was kept up by reviews, sham-battles, and parades.  The largest of these demonstrations was in 1858, when Governor Chase reviewed the Ohio troops at Dayton.

      The first telegraph message was receive in Dayton September 17, 1847.  In the next few years other lines were built, which have since been consolidated, until now there were but two offices in the city.

      The population of Dayton in 1848 was fourteen thousand.

      Houses were first lighted by gas in 1849, but street lights came a little later.  At present the city is well supplied with both gas and electric light.

      Curwen says, in 1850:  “Dayton Is on the natural route of the great chain of railroads that are destined at an early date to connect the extreme West with the Atlantic cities.  The completion of the several lines of railroads now in process of construction and contemplated will afford a continuous chain from St. Louis to all the great commercial cities of the East.  What has been done may be briefly stated.  The Lake Erie & Mad River Railroad [from Dayton to Sandusky] terminates here.  Over this road there passed last year over one hundred and eight thousand people.  The Dayton & Western Railroad [from Dayton to Richmond, Indiana] when completed will be one of the best roads in the country.  The road from Dayton to Greenville will be in operation early in 1851.”  It is safe to say that Mr. Curwen’s predictions have been amply fulfilled.  Dayton now has eleven railroads, which form parts of four great systems.  The period of which Curwen writes was also one of the great prosperity for the canals, which showed little diminution for the next ten years.

      The first street-railroad was chartered in 1869, as the “Dayton Street Railroad,” though generally known as the “Third Street Railroad.”  Others followed rapidly until 1896 there are few parts of the city not reached by street-cars.  Electricity has taken the place of horse-power on all but one road.

      After a discussion of several years the volunteer fire department in Dayton was succeeded by a paid force, and the first steam fire-engine was purchased in 1863.  Dayton now has one of the most efficient and best-equipped fire departments in the country.

      At the spring election of 1869 the question was put to the people whether water-works should be erected, and was answered in the affirmative.  On April 1, 1870, the water-works committee made a report to Council to the effect that the machinery and fixtures placed in position were in successful operation, and up to and over the standard guaranteed by the company; from which time Dayton has been one of the most fortunate cities in her unfailing supply of pure, cold water.

      The Dayton Female Orphans’ Association was incorporated in 1844.  The first home, a small brick building on Magnolia Street, was used until the erection of the new one across the Miami River.  In 1867 the commissioners of Montgomery County determined to take charge of the Dayton Orphan Asylum.  A new home was built in Harrison Township and opened in 1867.  The number of children taken care of averages of late years about a hundred.

      The Dayton Young Men’s Christian Association had its original in a great religious revival I 1869 and 1870, the object of the association being “the physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual improvement of young men.”  The first home of the association was on the second floor of the Journal building, north of the Court-house.  In the spring of 1875 funds were raised, and the old Dunlevy residence, on Fourth Street, bought, remodeled, furnished, and occupied in 1885, which only demonstrated the need of greater facilities.  In 1886 fifty-five thousand dollars were contributed towards a new building, which was at once begun, and dedicated in the following year.  The property is now valued at over one hundred thousand dollars, and the value of the work done for young men is inestimable.

      The Woman’s Christian Association was organized in 1870, Encouraged by the success of the young men’s association, and hoping to work in unison with them, their work has been crowned with even greater success than could have been hoped.  The work is of varied character.  A widow’s home is sustained, and a woman’s exchange operated.  There are many committees for visiting the Soldiers’ Home, the hospitals, the jail, and for missionary work.  The day and night classes and lunches for working girls have been among the modern and successful experiments.  The old Winters homestead on Third Street was bought in 1891, and now forms the attractive and convenient home of the society.

      The Young Women’s League, organized in 1895, has a large membership – principally of working women – and a comfortable club-house, on Jefferson Street, south of Fifth.

      St. Elizabeth Hospital was started on Franklin Street, near Ludlow, in 1878, in a very modest way by two Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis.  They soon found that there was a broad field for their work.  More room was needed.  The Sisters selected six acres of land in Browntown, which were purchased, and the corner-stone laid in 1881 for a large building.  There, supported by voluntary contributions, there are quietly doing a noble. Work.

      The Protestant Deaconess Society of Dayton was organized in August, 1890.  At first two or three deaconesses from Cincinnati nursed in private families.  In October, 1891, a temporary hospital was opened on Fourth Street near St. Clair, under the direction of society.  Its usefulness proved that such a hospital, home, and training-school for nurses was needed for the growing city.  On Sunday, October 14, 1894, a new building was dedicated.  It was built on the ground of the old Widow’s Home, which had been bought and donated for the purpose by Mrs. J. H. Winters.  Crowning an eminence overlooking the city, it stands “a stately and massive edifice, built for a noble cause and dedicated to it.”  “Behold,” says Mr. Simonds, the president of the society, “how great a matter a little fire kindleth.”

      The Dayton Philharmonic Society was organized in 1874, and has achieved a decided success.  The Mozart Musical and Literary Society was organized in 1888.  There are also the Harmonia, the Young Men’s Christian Association Orchestra, Maennerchor, and other musical societies.

      The Present Day Club, formed in January, 1895 is an organization composed of about three hundred representative men, who spend and evening every two weeks during the greater part of the year in the discussion of important topics relating to social, literary, educational, religious, economic, and other problems.

      In 1885 Professor J. A. Robert began the improvement of the land along the western levee, and, by filling and protecting it from the river by a fine wall, has added a beautiful street to the city from Monument Avenue to Fifth Street, finished in July, 1887.

      On the 22d of October, 1892, the Columbian Centennial was appropriately celebrated in Dayton by an immense procession of military and civil societies, school-children, and industrial exhibits, followed by appropriate addresses and music in Cooper Park.

      The manufacturing interests of Dayton have long been prominent.  There has been a steady and substantial growth in the number and size of manufacturing establishments, until in 1894, according to the report of the State Labor Statistician, the city ranked as the third in the State in number of industries, capital invested, and wages paid, and fourth in the value of its manufactured products.  Many of its establishments are very large, some employing from one to two thousand persons, and a number of them are known in almost every part of the globe.

      The stores, banks, building-associations, insurance companies, and other branches of trade conduct a large amount of business, and rank high in the commercial world.

      Within the last few years a complete sewer system has been projected and largely finished, and the principal streets of the city have been handsomely paved with asphalt, brick, sandstone, and granite; and many of the residence streets have been parked by narrowing the roadway and making lawns along the borders of the sidewalks.  These improvements, together with the large number of shade-trees which abound in the city, make the streets very attractive.

      In 1889 natural gas was introduced in Dayton for fuel purposes.  Although not sufficiently plenty to supply many factories, it has proved a great convenience to housekeepers.

      Dayton, since the earliest days, has seldom been left for any length of time without a newspaper.  The Journal was descended from a long line of plucky ventures.  It was a Republican paper, ably conducted after 1835 by the Comlys.  It had been a weekly and triweekly, and in 1847 became a daily, and as such has continued to the present day, with a short interregnum after the burning of the office, presses, and materials by a mob in May, 1863.  Soon after this Major William D. Bickham took charge of and made the Journal into a paper of national reputation.  Mr. Bickham was a bold and brilliant writer, an astute and enthusiastic politician, a man whose death, in 1894, left a vacancy in political and newspaper circles difficult to fill.  The Journal is now conducted by the sons of Mr. Bickham.

      In 1842 the Democratic party in Dayton was represented by the Western Empire.  Some years later the Daily Empire was published irregularly, finally becoming a regular evening paper.  It was continued until 1863, when the editor was arrested and the paper suppressed because of an article which it published in regard to the arrest of Vallandigham.  A new paper was soon started, and has continued to the present day under the titles of Daily Ledger, Herald, Herald and Empire, Democrat, and Times.

      The News is an afternoon daily issued from the same office as the Times.

      The Volks-Zeitung, started in 1866, has always been an independent paper.

      The Daily Herald was started in 1879 as an independent journal.

      The Press, first issued in 1891, is a Republican afternoon paper.

      Including the above, there are published in the city seventeen secular and thirty-two religious periodicals, making a total of forty-nine periodical publications.

      Among the men whose active business life made them well known in the years preceding and following the War were several who should be mentioned at length in the history of these periods.  The eldest of these was David Stout, who came to Dayton in 1812.  He was a native of Pennsylvania, and was seventeen years old when he became a citizen of the growing town.  He soon engaged in business for himself, and for nearly half a century was actively interested in various lines of business, being the first man in the city to engage in the sale of stoves.  He was at one time a member of the Town Council, for twenty years treasurer of the town and of the School Board, a director of the Cooper Cotton Factory and Dayton Carpet Company, one of the organizers of the first public light company, treasurer of the Dayton Gas Light and Coke Company, and a stockholder in the Woodland Cemetery Associations.  On the corner where the Atlas Hotel now stands he built one of the first brick residences in Dayton, which remained unaltered until 1892.  In 1839 he moved into his new home on the northeast corner of Second and Perry streets, where he dispensed a liberal hospitality during the Harrison convention in 1840, and in 1842, at the Henry Clay convention, entertained one hundred and eight guests over night and many more at dinner.  David Stout was remarkable for his kindness and benevolence to individuals.  He had eight children and numerous descendants, many of whom now live in the city.  Three of the children are now living and reside in Dayton – Elias R., Atlas L., and David Orion.

      Another pioneer in prominent business enterprises of the city, when once it began to extend its operations, was Mr. Ebenezer Thresher, one of the first manufacturers of agricultural implements and of railroad cars.  Mr. Thresher had been born and brought up in Connecticut, receiving an extended education and entering the ministry in New England.  Failing health compelled him to relinquish other plans, and led him in 1845 to come west to engage in business.  With Mr. E. E. Barney and Mr. Packard, he organized in 1849 the firm of Thresher, Packard & Company, manufacturers of agricultural machinery, and soon after of railroad cars.  This was the beginning of the great “Car Works” which have helped to make Dayton known throughout the world.  In 1854 Mr. Thresher retired, founding later his varnished business.  During the remainder of his long life, which continued till 1886, he was prominent in religious and educational circles, especially in the enterprises of the Baptist Church, of which he had always been an influential member.  Two sons and two daughters are still residents of the city.

      Much of the history of banking in Dayton centers around the name of Mr. Valentine Winters.  Mr. Winters came to Dayton from Germantown in 1825, and was employed in the dry-goods store of Andrew Irwin, and later with Harman & Rench, in which firm he soon became partner.  He was prominent in the commercial circles of Dayton for a half-century, conducting at engaging in banking.  He was cashier of the Dayton Bank, organized in 1845, and afterward was one of the proprietors in the banks of Harshman, Winters & Company, V. Winters & Son, and the Winters National Bank.  Mr. Winters was a member of the first board of directors of the Dayton & Western Railroad, and with his partners, Jonathan Harshman and E. F. Drake, constructed the first railroad in Minnesota, connecting St. Paul and Minneapolis.  In 1839 he was foreman of the Safety Engine and Hose Company.  In the War of the Rebellion he was a loyal supporter of the Government, and gave the assistance of his bank to the support of the finances of the State and Nation.  Mr. Winters was a member of the Third Street Presbyterian Church, and gave liberally to the Young Men’s Christian Association and Woman’s Christian Association.  In 1829 he married Catharine Harshman, a daughter of Jonathan Harshman, and had eleven children, - four sons and seven daughters, - a number of whom, with their descendants, still live in the city.

      Another figure well known on our streets for nearly forty years was Mr. Frederick Gebhart.  Mr. Gebhart came to Dayton from Pennsylvania in 1838, being then forty years of age.  He was soon after followed by his brothers Herman and George, whose business interests were closely allied to their brother’s.  In 1839 Mr. Gebhart opened a dry-goods store, removing a little later to the building on Third Street so long occupied by his successors, D. L. Rike & Company.  After a number of years he entered the linseed oil business, and until his death in 1878 was interested in enterprises which would add to the prestige of the city.  The descendants of these three brothers form one of the large and influential families of the city.

      No history of Dayton would be complete that had not much to say of Robert W. Steele.  Quiet student though he was, he touched the life of the place on every side, for he was a lover of men and of books, of his country and home.  He was born in 1819 to a life of ease and all honorable traditions.  He was the son of an earnest, self-reliant pioneer, who had been a merchant, a soldier when needed, trustee of the Presbyterian Church, of Miami University, and of the Dayton Academy, one of the founders of Woodland Cemetery, president of the Dayton Bank for nearly forty years, a judge for fourteen years, one of those chosen to cast the electoral vote for Ohio for Clay, and who had died in the midst of a busy, active career.  This was the example which the past gave to the young man who was met at the threshold of manhood by the knowledge that such a life could not be his.  He was prohibited by his physician from continuing the study of law.  If he could not practice his profession, could not do his own work as he planned, “Very well,” he said to himself quietly and bravely, “I shall help others to do theirs”; and this, I take it, was the key-note to his life – he was a helper.


      “Whoever thou art whose need is great,

      In the name of the all-compassionate and merciful One I wait.”


      Men and women went to the quiet study where he loved to sit, with books climbing the walls around him, and usually came away comforted.  The teachers learned to come, - the pupils, too, - for he was a member of the Board of Education for thirty years, and its president for twelve of them.  He was one of the founders of the Library Association, and for years director and president.  When the association was united with the Public Library, he was chairman of the Library Committee until he resigned in 1875.  Later he became a member of the reorganized Library Board, and served until his death.  His love for books was the enthusiasm of his life.  The feeling that other men put into business and professions he lavished upon these quiet friends.  He knew a good book by instinct, was a fine critic, and a writer himself, having done considerable work for newspapers, and published numerous essays, and histories of the library, cemetery, public schools, and early Dayton.

      He was a member and treasurer or president of every horticultural society of Dayton, as well as the Ohio State Board of Agriculture.  He was interested in the early railroads centering in Dayton, and a subscriber to the stock of all of them but one.

      When the War of the Rebellion came, he felt deeply.  Loving his country as he did, he served it well.  If he could not fight himself, he could help the soldiers in a hundred ways; he could care for the wives and children at home, and uphold the Government through the darkest days.  He served on the Military Committee of Montgomery County, was a member of the Sanitary Committee, and chairman of a Citizens’ Committee.

      No reform or change for the better in his native city ever lacked the hearty sympathy and cordial support of Robert Steele.  He was an elder in the Third Street Presbyterian Church for forty years.  He was secretary of the Woodland Cemetery Association, and its president when he died.  He served five years as a member of the State Board of Charities.

      When death laid its touch on that kindly heart to still it, and men sorrowed to know they should meet that quaint figure no more; when he lay asleep in the dear old home his father had built, and was carried over its threshold to the Woodland they had both tended and cared for, - who would say now which of the two men had done more for humanity?

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