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Industrial Advance of Dayton, Ohio and Environs
The City of Dayton

The City of Dayton


            This Continent has been productive of startling developments.  Events have transpired whose effects still impress and sway the older nations.  States, Territories and Provinces have been carved from an expanse of wilderness, and cities have grown up like an exhalation.  Presage and opinion have been at fault, convenience and facility have been potential, and what in the old world would be considered by a short lapse of period, has suffered to create a city with swarming thousands, replete with the products of the soil, resonant with the hum of manufacture, and abounding with treasures of art and comfort.  Today a great and growing city, with a population of 60,000, stands in the midst of a rich and fertile country.  Ascend to the roof of any of the blocks in the city and look at midday on the scenes beneath and stretching far around you; lofty buildings, beautiful churches, and a teeming myriad of population meet the sight.  From the depot, freight and passenger trains come and go at brief intervals.  Industry, affluence and enjoyment are evinced in every quarter.  There seems no merchandise but what has its mart, no interest without its representatives; all facilities for travel abound – the car upon the paved street, or the miles of walk for the passing throng.  The melody of bells proclaims the fleeting house, and the shriek of the steam whistle announces the cessation or renewal of a multiform of industry.

            While it is not or purpose or mission to enter into minute details concerning the early settlement and history of Dayton, it is proper for us to embody, in a work of this character, a brief sketch of the more notable facts in the development of this populous locality from the trackless waste it once was.

The City’s Inception and Development

            The earliest history of this part of Ohio dates back to November, 1772, when, after an exciting battle with the Indians, an armed body of Kentuckians bivouacked on the present site of the “Gem City” on the mouth of Mad River.

            The transfer of the entire seventh range of townships, extending from the Big to the Little Miami rivers, was made to Major Benjamin Stiles in June, 1797.  All efforts to settle this tract up until November, 1795, were fruitless by reason of the frequency and fury of the Indian wars, and on the 4th of November, 1795, the town was laid out upon land which at that time sold for eighty-three cents per acre.  The first settlers inclosed the land lying between the lines of First and Fifth streets, and extending from Perry street to the sycamore trees on the river bank, where the first buildings had been erected, as it was then considered the most desirable location.  The inclosure was the farming land of all the settlers in common, and where now the commodious and imposing buildings rise above the great business thoroughfares there waved the corned planted by the vanguard of civilization ninety years ago.

            The first public house of entertainment build in Dayton was known as “Newcomb’s Tavern,” which was built entirely of logs, and was the first house in the settlement that was finished inside was plaster.  On the 1st of April, 1799, there were, including this extensive hostelry, only nine buildings or cabins in the town.  At this date there was a guide-post erected at the corner of the present Warren and Main Streets, the sign on which read, “One-half mile to Dayton.” “Newcomb’s” was in that day as decidedly the palatial hotel of the city as is the Beckel or Phillips House of to-day.

            On the 1st of September, 1799, Benjamin Van Cleve opened a small school in the lower story of the blockhouse that served as a refuge from the Indians, and in December of the following year, the first church was organized in a small log cabin in the vicinity of  the blockhouse, which was then known as the First Presbyterian Church.  About this time the building of flatboats became an important, in fact, the chief industry, these rude boats being in demand to transport the products of the soil and the chase.  This was the beginning of Dayton’s commerce, which has now attained important proportions, but until the opening of the Miami canal in 1829 the aggregate of trade was inconsiderable.  The first store was opened in the settlement in 1800 by an enterprising individual from Detroit, and the skins of animals were soon recognized the medium of exchange, a muskrat skin, valued at twenty-five cents, being the standard.  At this date two muskrat skins would purchase one yard of calico, and one would be taken in exchange for a half pound of coffee.

            The price of common whisky was very high at this period, a flask of fire-water costing five doe skins.  The principal trade was carried on with the Indians.  The first post-office was opened in Dayton, in January, 1804, Benjamin Van Cleve, the village pedagogue, being the postmaster.  For several years the only mail received here was that carried by a post-rider from Cincinnati once a week.  At this time Dayton had been made the county seat of Montgomery county, and soon began to grow in importance.

            The incorporated on February 12th, 1805, but act of Legislature, and ten municipal officers were elected by the freeholders resident in the town for six months, nearly one-half of the electors being selected to fill the offices.  Although the expenses of the town government were but seventy-two dollars for the first year, the proposition of the Council to raise the amount by taxation was defeated by vote of the freeholders at a meeting called to pass upon the matter.  During the War of 1812, Dayton was selected as the site of the military head-quarters, and presented a bustling appearance of soldier’s encampments.  After the news of Perry’s victory on Lake Erie, the business, which had been stagnated by the war, revived, and the “Gem City” soon thereafter inaugurated the beginning of her commercial importance.  Merchandise at this time was freighted with great difficulty.  Sometimes it was carried up the Miami river on flatboats, and at other times, it was carried on pack horses, which in long lines, under the care of three or four men, wound slowly through the wilderness.  The methods, and especially the latter, were attended with great danger from the hostile savages and other sources.

            To the pioneers of the period, did they survive, a visit to the Dayton of to-day would possess all the interest of a fairy tale.  Instead of the little, rude log chapel of worship of three-quarters of a century ago, we find now in this city over forty of the most magnificent architectural structures of modern times devoted to the worship of God, and a solidly built, wealthy metropolis of a fertile agricultural country with a population of nearly sixty thousand, and all the evidences of culture, refinement, and progress.

            We have said enough of the past.  Our business is now with the present, with living me and their daily occupations, and successes – what they are doing for themselves in manufactures, commerce, trade and finance, and in advancing the general prosperity of the community.


            Dayton received its charter of incorporation in 1841, and has rapidly advanced and increased in population and commercial importance, and the following statement of statistical facts exhibits in a remarkable degree the great resources, wealth and condition of this municipality in a local as well as a universal sense.  The census taken in 1840 gave 6,067; in 1850, 10.977; in 1860, 20,081; in 1870, 39,473; in 1880, 38,677; and now, with a natural increase and stimulation of the past few years, the total population at the present time can not be far short of 60,000 persons.

A City of Homes.

            This designation cannot be improved upon, for after admiring the splendid residences of  the wealthy and the handsome houses of the well-to-do, the eye of the visitor will rest with infinite pleasure upon the houses of the mechanic, the clerk, the young business man and the laborer, miles and miles of the streets being lined with neat but inexpensive houses, often surrounded by a plot of ground, and each owned by its occupant.  Land has never been held at fancy prices, and the result has been as stated.

            The reasonable price at which the working classes of Dayton have been able to obtain the great boon of owning their own domiciles has materially enhanced the welfare of the city, and apart from stimulating habits of thrift, has created a class of citizens who are content, and having a stake in the country are not so prone to become mixed up in labor troubles.  This is perhaps one reason of the infrequency of strikes here, and, generally speaking, the relations between employer and employed has been of a friendly character.

            Much of this gratifying state of affairs has been induced through the efforts of the Building Associations, of which there are more in Dayton than in any other city in the United States, taking population into consideration.  The accumulated savings of theg people of this city in these concerns now amounts to over three millions of dollars, and are rapidly increasing.   Their combined weekly receipts exceeds fifty thousand dollars.  A large part of this great sum is loaned to mechanics and others to build or buy themselves homes, and the consequence is that no city in the world can bear comparison with Dayton in the number of people who own their own homes.  The “Dayton Plan,” as it is called, originated here, and is everywhere regarded as the best and most successful manner of conducting these institutions.  It is being copied extensively all over the country, and our home associations are constantly receiving requests from other cities and states for information as to their methods of doing business.

            There are seventeen Building Associations in the city who receipts range anywhere from five hundred dollars to twenty-five thousand dollars per week.  They are all comparatively well managed and prosperous, and they have added immensely to the wealth and growth of the city.  No mechanic with steady employment and decent wages need be without his own home in Dayton for any length of time; and every man, whoever he may be, can have choice of a dozen or more places where he can safely deposit his weekly or monthly earnings and realize an interest on his money double that paid by ordinary savings banks.

            A man who desires a home is not required to store his money in the cupboard or bureau, or to place it in savings bank where it earns but little, until he accumulates sufficient to buy one; nor is he compelled to borrow, if he can, the necessary sum from his employer or some wealthy friend as a favor, and take his chances of being able to pay it back when due.  He can place his surplus earnings in one of these associations where it accumulates rapidly until he has one third of the necessary amount.  He can then borrow the other two-thirds and buy or build a house to suit him at cash prices and repay it in small weekly or monthly payments not much exceeding the rent he formerly paid.  Hundreds of houses are built in this city every year in this way, and our suburbs, when lots can be had a reasonable price, are rapidly filling up with neat and tasteful houses.

As a Manufacturing Center

            The city of Dayton holds a most prominent position, and there is an enormous demand for her products from all parts of the United States, and also from foreign countries.

            Much may be truthfully written of the advantages possessed by an industrial town as compared with those of a commercial or agricultural community.  The last mentioned was the first in the order of civilization.  Man’s first possessions were the direct products of the soil.  That people living continuously in one place might possess the various articles resulting from differences in climate and peculiarities of soil, an interchange of productions became necessary, and thus arose commerce.  At this stage of the world’s progress, owing to the accumulation of nature’s products, men first had leisure.  With leisure came the cultivation of the intellect, when men began to analyze and compare the various commodities in order to learn what changes in character and form and combinations of different articles were possible, to the end that means might be attained for gratifying the added desires and wants of man.  Thus mechanical skill was quickened into life and activity, and thence arose Industry.  Agriculture, Commerce and Industry thus are typical of the three grades of civilization, the last mentioned being latest in order of appearance, but first in culture and refinement.  It is then but the fulfillment of nature’s edict that the industrial community is peculiar to modern civilization.  With the diffusion of knowledge and the advancement of science came the development of manufactures.  No country more forcibly illustrates the truth of our first statement than the United Sates.  Here are the finest types of the manufacturing village or city.  Nowhere are there industrial communities possessing so high an intellectual and moral tone.  They are the natural outgrowth of our democratic institutions, and are the strongest testimonial to the inestimable benefits conferred upon humanity by our republican form of government.  No American city more clearly shows this to be true than the subject of this sketch [the Dayton Public Library Building].  From the early settlement, its growth lay in the direction of manufactures.  Thus early in the history of Dayton was the foundation laid for a healthful growth in the direction of a high social order.  The development has kept pace with the city’s advancing prosperity.  Soon after its inception, the social status and intelligence of Dayton was above the agricultural community, and has always been free from the demoralizing influences of the speculation incident to a commercial city.

            No one can traverse the streets of Dayton without being struck with the recurrence of factories and buildings devoted to manufactures.  You meet with such buildings everywhere.  Sometimes it is a long low structure with a huge chimney, then an immense square pile, with some hundreds of windows, then it is a square of three sides of a square, the center full of debris, the buildings all around three, four and five stories in height, and the whirr of the saw and the clang of the hammer is heard on all sides.  Many of the establishments employ each hundreds of hands, and the comfort and wealth from all of them is of course enormous.

            To what extent is Dayton provided with all essentials to make it a most favorable point for the operation of all classes of manufacturing enterprises, is shown in the following statement of her advantages:

1.                  The City if located in the very heart of the finest agricultural district in the country.  While some localities do excel us in certain products, yet, when the adaptations of our soil and climate to the production of wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley, flax, timothy and the consequent production of horses, cattle, hogs, and sheet are considered, it may truthfully be claimed that this does excel as an agricultural district adapted to general produce.  The Miami valley has long been celebrated for the quality of tobacco it produces, stimulating the manufacture of cigars to a large extent, and creating a trade in the shipment of leaf tobacco to all parts of the country, which is simply enormous and yearly increasing.

2.                  The City is adjacent to one of the finest coal districts in the State, producing a mineral which, in quality, for general purposes is equal to any coal of any other district in the country.

3.                  The City is located not far removed from a hard wood lumber district, and contiguous to Dayton is a splendid supply of the best building stone, which, by its name of Dayton Lime Stone, is celebrated throughout the West.

4.                  The City is the nucleus of a railroad system which has few equals and no superiors.  The district in a circuit of two hundred miles around the City of Dayton has perhaps a larger number of railroads and telegraph lines, in proportion to population, than any like district in the country.  The system by which many lines of railroad are made to converge from numerous different points of the compass, the trains from all those entering one depot, enabling the traveler to go from the City to any town or village within a hundred miles and return the same day, is one that any metropolis might envy.

5.                  The City is a healthy and pleasant one to reside in.  The tables of mortality show that Dayton is far above the average in this respect.  The system of free schools and libraries is complete.  This City may be well cited as a “City of Churches.”  The streets are broad and shaded.  The finest system of water supply is here in operation, assuring practically unlimited quantities of the purest water for all purposes.  The social advantages are, in all respects, pleasant and inviting, and a healthy and moral atmosphere prevails in every department.

6.                  Natural gas will soon be in general use in the city, both for fuel for making power in factories and as a means of heat in public buildings and private residences.  The work of piping it into the city has been somewhat dilatory, but it will probably be here by the time this volume is before the public.

7.                  The government of the city is based upon strict ideas of economy consistent with safe and sure progress, the spirit of the people is decidedly in favor of every measure introduced to make the rate of taxation low, while at the all public improvements are of the best character, requiring no renewal when once completed.

8.                  The cost of living here is much less than in any of the larger cities of the State, or in the country.  No city in the Union offers so many advantages to the small or large manufacturer as does Dayton at the present time.  The introduction of new enterprises will increase the opportunities for retail merchants to extend the volume of their business, and a rapidly growing wholesale trade bids fair to make this one of the leading sources of supply in the state.

The question has been frequently what can be manufactured in Dayton to the best advantage.  The simplest answer and an absolutely true one is everything.  A good idea of what can be done may be obtained by a glance at the prosperous and flourishing branches of industrial art now carried on.  They include Agricultural Implements of various kinds.  Ale, Lager Beer and Porter, Ambulance Springs, House and Hotel Annunciators, Architectural Iron Products, Art Embroideries, Bent Materials for Carriages and Wagons, Blueing, Books, Boilers, Book Binders’ and Box Makers’ Tar Board and Materials, Boots and Shoes, Wooden and Paper Boxes and Paper Specialties, Bridges, Brooms, Brushes, Buckets, Candy and Confectionery, Railroad Cars, Car Furnishing Goods, Car Dumping Machines, Carriage Hardware, Carriages and Buggies, Carriage Bodies, Carriage Trimmings, Carriage and Wagon Hubs, Spokes and Wheels, Cash Registers, Chain, Chairs, Chimney Tops and Flue Linings, Churns, Cigars, Smoking and Chewing Tobacco, Cigar Boxes, Cisterns, Clothing, Coopers’ Tools, Skirts, Leather Goods, Cotton Batting, Cotton Seed Oil Machinery, Crackers and Biscuits, Desks, Drain Tile, Edge Tools, Electrical Goods and Supplies, Electrotypes, Extension Table Slides, Extracts, Linseed Oil and Cake, Flax and Tow, Flour and Feed, Flour Sacks, Nursery Stock, Furnaces, Furniture, Furs, Galvanized Iron Products, Gas Lighting Apparatus, Gas Machines, Ginger Ale and Mineral Waters, Glue, Grain Drills, Grain Sacks, Grate Settings, Harness and Trunks, Trunk Slate and Handles, Hay Presses, Hay Rakes, Hay Tedders, Hides and Skins, Household Novelties, Ink, Iron Products of every description, Brass Goods for Steam and Gas Fitters, Iron Railings, Iron Stairs, Iron Fences, Ironing Boards, Jewelry, Ladders, Lard Oil, Lasts, Pegs, Leather Collars, Fly Nets, Levers and Screw Jacks, Lime Extracting Heaters, Linseed Oil Machinery, Locomotive Headlights, Loops and Cruppers, Machine Knives, Machinery in infinite variety, Malleable Iron, Malt, Mantels, Marble and Granite Work, Mattresses, Patent Medicines, Rubber Stamps, Stencils, Seals, Metallic Checks, Mill Machinery, Mill Gearing, Mill Picks, Mill Stones, Portable Mills, Models, Nails, Nickel, Gold and Silver Plating, Office Furniture, Opera Seats and School Furniture, Oyster and Berry Pails, Paints, Paper Bags, Paper, Paper Mill Machinery, Paper and Wood Plates, Photo and Wood Engraving, Picture Frames, Planes, Planing Mill Work, Plows, Plumbers’ Supplies, Pork Packing, Pottery, Pumps & Steam Pumps, Putty, Stoves and Ranges, Reapers and Mowers, Refrigerators, Roller Mills, Roofing Material, Ropes, Twine and Cordage, Rubber Goods, Sash, Doors, Blinds and Mill Work, Sausages, Saws, Saw Mills, Lumber, School Specialties, Pads and Tablets, Screws, Shirts, Overalls, Suspenders, Show Cases, Soap, Stairs, Newels and Balusters, Steam Engines, Steam Heating Apparatus, Stockings, Umbrellas, Stone Cutters’ Tools, Stone, Automatic Swings, Switch and Car Locks, Bronze Statuary, Leather, Tempering Wheels, Threshing Machines, Tinware, Trusses, Turbine Water Wheels, Varnish, Vinegar, Water Filters, Wagons, Washing Machinery, Driven Well Supplies, White Lead, Wind Mills, Yeast and soon Sewing Machines, the Davis Sewing Machine Co. being about to remove their enormous operations to this city from Watertown, N.Y.

Machine Work.

There is a class of work manufactured in our city which, for the want of a more comprehensive term, we will call machine work, and under this head may be comprised all products of iron, steel, brass, copper, etc., such as Agricultural Machinery and Implements, and machinery of all kinds, Steam Pumps, Brass Goods, Engines and production of these articles our manufacturers have obtained a national reputation.  They have been and are now sending them to every part of the country.  The Farm Implement, Water Wheels, Paper Mill, Saw Mill, Flouring Mill Machinery, Steam Pumps and work of this description generally, are not excelled by any made in the world.  There is also another peculiarity which may be properly be noticed here, and that is that no low-priced or second-rate goods in these lines are made in Dayton, only the finest and best, our manufacturers have attained their reputation from quality more than price.  The presence here of highly skilled labor has also shown itself to great advantage in this branch.  It is not practicable to submit any statistical information concerning the production of those articles which would be of general interest, but there is no doubt that it is an exceedingly important division of our manufactures, and taken as a whole, is the heaviest interest we have.

Paper and Paper Specialties.

The manufacture of paper has for many years been one of the leading features of the business of this locality, and there are a number of paper mills here in operations which produce yearly large quantities of the finest book and print paper.  One large establishment is devoted to the manufacture of Straw Board Lining and Box Makers and Book Binders’ Materials, Binders Tar Board, etc., and ship these goods all over the country.    The manufacturers of paper boxes, paper berry and oyster pails and kindred goods has come to be one of the leading lines of production in Dayton, and more of these articles are produced here than anywhere else.  There are several concerns engaged in the business, one of which is the largest of the kind in the United States, with a larger production than any, and perhaps equal to all the rest combined.  Allied to the paper interest must not be ignored a number of houses engaged in the manufacture of pads, tablets and school supplies, which are shipped from here to all sections of the country and are exported abroad.

Railroad Cars.

This branch of great importance to the City is also a rapidly growing interest.  The fact has been stated, and is no doubt true, that Dayton builds the finest style and quality of cars made anywhere.  It is to the immense concern, whose theatre of operations are here, that the traveling public is largely indebted for the comfortable, cheerful and elegant cars – both day and sleeping – that are now running upon our main lines of travel.  Starting by slight improvements on the old uncomfortable unattractive styles of cars, competition and the natural desire to excel among car builders and railroad companies has resulted in furnishing those who travel for business or pleasure, cars which, for elegance and comfort, are not equaled in any country in the world, and still our builders, not satisfied with past success, are constantly adding to the beauty and comfort of their cars.  In this line of the presence of highly skilled labor in abundance and our superior facilities for transportation, both for crude material and finished work, enable the well known Barney & Smith Manufacturing Co., of Dayton, to compete successfully with any similar enterprises in any other section of the country.


Probably there is no branch of industry that has made such great progress as that of milling has, within the past seven years, in which time milling as a process has been entirely revolutionized.  Seven years ago milling was simply the production of wheat ground fine between twos tones, making what was then called one reduction of wheat, but now we have the improved roller system requiring a number of rolls.  Instead of one reduction, there are twelve to fourteen gradual reductions made before flour is fit for the barrel.  Most mills have what is known as six reductions on wheat and six reductions on middlings.  From the six reductions on wheat is made what is known as bakers’ flour and from the six reductions on middlings the finest grade of patent or roller process flour is manufactured.

It is proper to state here that Dayton mills are not behind the times.  All of her six mills are well equipped with all the best improved milling machinery, and Dayton flour has the highest standing in Eastern and Southern markets as well as at home.  The aggregate capacity of Dayton mills when running full is 1800 bbls of flour every twenty-four hours.  These mills require 10,000 bushels of wheat per day, or in a year will grind 3,000,000 bushels of wheat.  About twenty-five percent, of the wheat used by the Dayton mills is grown in the Miami Valley, and the remaining seventy-five percent comes from all wheat sections between Ohio and Dakota.

Carriage Bent Wood Work.

There is no doubt that this locality enjoys advantages for the manufacture of Hubs, Spokes, Wheels, and Carriage Bent Wood Work Generally, fully equal to any place in the country.  Some of these advantages are natural and others the result of well directed and intelligent efforts on the part of those engaged in the business.  One fact is assured, that the manufacture of improved products in this line, as carried on here, represents the very acme of perfection; and activity in this production has stimulated incentive to a marked degree.  From the descriptive notices we offer of houses engaged in this business will be realized the improved character and superior properties of Hubs and Wheels for carriages, turned out by our manufacturers, and the natural consequence is that when purchases are to be made the character, stock and prices of this city must necessarily be consulted.

Tobacco and Cigars.

These branches of business are among the most important we have among us.  There are here located several large concerns engaged in the manufacture of both smoking and chewing tobaccos, and the quality of the goods is of the best, no inferior products emanating from any of our factories.  We find, moreover, that each firm engaged in the business are increasing their production as the demand for the goods annually advances.  In the manufacture of cigars, we are assured that Dayton makes more cigars than any other single place, excepting only New York City.  The factories here are extensive, and some of them are very large, employing hundreds of skilled workmen.  The packing and shipping of leaf tobacco is another prominent feature of business here, the well known Ohio State or Miami tobacco being so largely in demand throughout the country for cigar manufacturing.  Altogether, the three branches of cigar making, tobacco manufacturing, and leaf tobacco packing constitute a very important division of Dayton’s business.

The above are the leading divisions of Dayton’s manufacturing interests, although there are in addition many other very important establishments devoted to the production of specialties and general lines of goods, and it is obvious that any branch of industrial endeavor can here be prosecuted to advantage under such favorable conditions as are rarely offered and seldom excelled.  Among other strong considerations to investors is that fewer strikes occur in this city, according to the number of laborers employed, than in almost any other manufacturing city in the country.  This is largely because the workmen so generally own their own homes.  They are enabled to do this because of the constant demand for their labor, and by means of the building associations, which give them a home on the installment plan.  There is to-day a great demand for skilled labor in the city, and fewer common laborers are out of work than in almost any city in the country.

Commercial and Mercantile.

It is often remarked by strangers that the number of retail hat, cap, clothing, boot and shoe, dry goods and millinery establishments in Dayton, seem to far outnumber those of other cities of even greater population, and the wonder if how they all live and apparently do such a flourishing business.  The secret lies in the fact that Dayton is in the heart of a splendid agricultural and thriving community, and surrounded on all sides by an immense number of thriving wealthy towns and villages, and thickly-settled and rich agricultural region, whose inhabitants all make the City their source for obtaining supplies of all kinds, which give merchants a trade largely disproportionate to the local population.  The wholesale trade in Dayton has kept pace with general growth and prosperity of the City.  All goods are bought direct from manufacturers, both at home and abroad, and not only do our merchants compete successfully with neighboring cities, but occupy all the territory to which they are rightfully entitled, and in addition to this they encroach very considerably on the territory of other cities, particularly Cincinnati, Cleveland and Indianapolis.  The trade now is in a steady growth for many years, the increase in the past five years has been notable and particularly gratifying.  The aggregate of annual sales in the wholesale trade is about seven million dollars, at the lowest estimate.  Dayton has always been a conservative city and the credit of its merchants has always been first class, and never better than to-day.  Many of those now engaged in business are of long standing.  One has been in the same business over fifty years, and one for over thirty-five years, while many others may be classed as old merchants.

Fire Insurance.

Fire Insurance forms an important feature of Dayton’s prosperity.  There are seven local companies employing cash capital paid up and accumulated surplus of over $2,000,000 as security for risks insured.  These seven companies are composed of leading merchants, manufacturers and capitalists, both great and small, so that each of these organizations is really part of ourselves.  They employ about sixty persons directly on salary, besides giving part employment to a number of agents and solicitors on commission.  Besides these home companies, about ninety other American and large foreign companies are doing business here.  These are distributed among so-called agencies, some agents representing ten to fifteen companies, while again others only represent three and upward.

Real Estate.

The general outlook for Dayton real estate has never been better than at the present time.  The past two years have shown wonderful strides in real estate developments, and in many instances improved property has more than doubled in value.  The central or business part of Dayton is second in value to no city in the Union of the same size, the price ranging from $500 to $1,400 per front foot, according to location, and always finds ready sale at these figures, which is strong proof o the thrift and prosperity of Dayton real estate.  Capitalists and manufacturers who are seeking new fields for investment will find that Dayton offers a combination of advantages that can not be excelled anywhere, and gentlemen desiring a superb location for factory business will find it unnecessary to seek their residence elsewhere.  The fact of Dayton’s high standard and character social and educational advantages, combined with her superior railroad and shipping facilities, are sufficient to attract the attention and admiration of business men who are seeking new enterprises for the investment of money.  The improvements to be made in Dayton this year will add largely to her population, and will necessitate the erection of many new buildings and increase the demand for unoccupied and suburban real estate,  To name a few of the important improvements now under contract with the city of Dayton may not be amiss: 1st.  The introduction of Natural Gas, which will be completed and ready for use within a short time, and will be used for fuel purposes by our manufacturers and private citizens.  2d.  The Main Streets, which is now under way and will be pushed forward to completion at an early day.  3rd.  A grand union depot, sufficient in size to accommodate the large number of railroads now penetrating our city, will soon be erected on the site where the old depot now stands, near the corner of Sixth and Ludlow.  4th. The new electric street railway, recently completed and now in operation, is another laurel on the brow of our fair, famed city, and one that is appreciated by the wary mechanic in going to and from his daily labor.  Dayton now has five distinct street car lines penetrating her suburbs in all directions, and in all probability several miles of new track will be built this year.  The last, but not least, improvement to refer to  is the sewing machine company coming from Watertown, N.Y.  This magnificent enterprise, with six hundred skilled mechanics and a capital stock of six hundred thousand dollars, will remove their entire plant to Dayton in the early spring.  The buildings for this new enterprise will be large, magnificent brick structures, that will not only be an ornament to their locality, but will enhance the reality in Dayton, and especially in the vicinity of their immediate location.  Many other enterprises that are now on foot might be referred to with interest, but space forbids.

Banks and Banking.

Dayton’s banking business is perhaps the strongest support of the manufacturing and mercantile interests of the city, and working in alliance with those interests in all their legitimate phases, each appreciably influences and partakes of the tone and methods of the others.  Hence the banks of the city, like her business enterprises, are noted for their sound, energetic yet conservative management, command the entire confidence of business men and capitalists and hold a high rank among the financial institutions of the State.

Board of Trade.

This organization, now in its second year of existence, has done much to extend abroad the advantages the city has to offer as a seat of manufacture of a highly favorable character.  Its officers are men of energy who take a pride in their city and are willing to devote time and trouble to advance its interests and welfare.  In April last they established an organ, the Board of Trade Journal, which has been quite successful.  During the time elapsed from its inception, thousands of copies have been sent out over the country, advertising the city and showing up the inducements she stands ready to accord those who are seeking a favorable location for the establishment of any business.  As indicative of some measure of the success achieved through the efforts of this organization, we append an extract from the report of Manager H.E. Parrott, presented at the meeting of January 4, 1889:

“In November last we opened correspondence with the Davis Sewing Machine Co. of Watertown, N.Y.  Two of our directors, Messrs. George P. Huffman and H.B. Pruden, had been in communication with them and learned of their desire to move westward, and laid the matter before our Board.  We sent a committee, Mr. G.N. Bierce and Mr. H.R. Groneweg, to Watertown to investigate the condition and prospects of the company. 

Our committee made a very complete and favorable report on their return, giving ample reasons for the contemplated removal, and satisfactory assurance of the solid character of the business, and of the advantage to any community.  Urged on by the knowledge that other cities were offering large sums of money to defray the loss and expense of removal, if the enterprise could come there, we drew from the company December 18th, an offer to move their business and works to Dayton, if we could give them a bonus of $50,000, the proposition to be accepted by January 3d, and our Board resolved to try and raise that amount by voluntary subscriptions from the property owners of the community.

The very short time in which the work had to be done was made practically shorter by the intervention of the Christmas holidays.  But the Executive Committee appointed for the purpose went at it resolutely.  Their wise plans and serious labor, the thorough work of the canvassing committees, and the liberality of our citizens, resulted in subscriptions to a sufficient amount to enable us to accepted the proposition, with the time names, and we now have the assurance of the Davis Sewing Machine Company that they will begin their buildings early in the spring, and move their entire business here as soon as possible thereafter.  It is certainly a very desirable result to have accomplished, and the investment will undoubtedly prove largely remunerative.

President H.H. Weakley’s address at the same meeting is here given in full:

“History gives no instance of skepticism having ever accomplished anything in the great results that have been handed down to us for our enjoyment in usefulness or as examples for our guidance.  Skeptics have never met with even cordial recognition among their kith and kin as the age and development leads to paths of cynicism and to the highway of doubtful motive.  A great man was wont to exclaim: “Oh! That mine enemy had written a book.”  The Board of Trade has friends and patrons, and to-night it is a source of peculiar pleasure that enables me to announce that the roll of its friends comprises the majority of the citizens of Dayton.  The people have not been led, in this instance, to doubt the motives or question its zeal, the film of skepticism has been dispelled by the warmth of its sincerity and the good words and deeds accomplished.

Institutions of this character have become quite popular in modern times, the earnest and commendable desire to improve your conditions and surroundings, to stimulate the growth of the village or city in which you live, enhance thereby the value of homes and real estate investments, increase population and the consumers for the goods of the retail merchants, and enlarge the sales of the jobbers – in short to engage actively and energetically in the pursuits that lead to results and opulence.  The old methods have undergone change, the desire to more rapidly accumulate competency, luxury and independence has seized the minds of people, and consequently, the Board of Trade has sought to be the medium of more rapid and easy organization – every ready and eager to act, on the alert to engage any scheme for the advancement of the community in their desire for more rapid results, yet steady judgment.  We may well applaud and bid welcome to our firesides such an institution and engage for it a home in our midst and the hospitality of being “one of our kind.”

The “Gem City” has enjoyed great advantages, and when, in some instances, a brilliant man has come to the fore and demonstrated learning and cultural, we may say disparagingly, skeptically, that the advantages he has enjoyed much to aid and assist; yet this country recognizes genius as well as culture, and a city of swamps becomes the great central city of a wonderful country, and they dub it Chicago.  So that, in our handsome city of homes and good cheer, whilst her advantages have been great and her growth indicating gradual increase, yet Columbus built her Hocking Valley Railway and her iron and other industries, and to-day in a decade has outstripped Dayton and points exultingly to twice our population.

We have had wealth and prosperity, so has the great country in which we live, must we attribute our success to general growth, or have we utilized our advantages, the wealth we possess, and grown from some of the inherent, intrinsic qualities surrounding and a part of us.  Here we, as pupils of a common “Alma Mater,” improved our talents and endeavored  to ascend the ladder among the cities growing and prospering in this great country?  The answer comes from the hills surrounding us – we have done well and must be a little more energetic, and withal fault may be found, let us not thereby discourage, but rather applaud.  Pat gently on the shoulder of our efforts and bid us to work a little harder; in the sweat of thy brow much may be done; indulge thou in a little more perspiration.

            We shall not attempt any flattery upon the beautiful hills and valleys that make handsome the landscape around us, nor enumerate the stacks that mount skyward, adding color to the vapor of the clouds; nor trace our products around the world; nor introduce the agents of our manufacturers residing in London, Melbourne and Hong Kong; nor tell you of the 2,500 retail merchants dispensing their wares to our 60,000 population; nor of the happy homes of plenty owned by the working men, young in the payment of taxes and legislation for the public good; nor of our public school system passing its students direct to the great universities of the land; nor of our elegant churches not excelled in the aesthetic angles of architecture even in the old world; nor of the pure water that comes so cheaply to the rich and poor alike, giving to all health and vigor; nor of the entire absence of squalid poverty and worn out tenement houses, nor of the many advantages we boast and tell to our visitors and strangers.  No.  All these matters we must leave to others to unfold, and to more practical matters briefly let me direct you.  To this association of the active men of our city, the business men, on whom the destiny of our city to an extent rests; the young, vigorous blood, that passes to the suburbs and center alike, giving health, strength and power, we have much to do, many things to accomplish, if we would make of our home of adoption or birth what it can and ought to be.

            The principles underlying the successful management of a city are similar in all respects to any other corporation, and even the affairs of an individual, if the intent has for its object the good and welfare of the parties in interest, so that we naturally conclude that the rules for the conduct and government of any of our manufactories might be safely and well applied to the management of city affairs.  We know that you will agree with us, that there are certain fixed rules for the conduct of business, and that deviation from them is often followed by insolvency and ruin.  We trust you will also concede that this association of gentlemen are taxpayers and neither office-holders nor politicians, but the cultivator of those fruits and that sustenance upon which the politician nurtures and feeds.

            Agreeing with me, as I trust you do, then axiomatic must be our conclusions that you must have a responsible head or manager to your manufactory, and you must pay him for the labor he performs.  Responsibility must attach and the power to appoint, control and discharge – in short the importance for change and improvement in the municipal affairs of all our cities is imperative.  Our general government is rapidly decreasing the public debt; our municipal corporations are increasing debt at a more rapid rate, and the time is close when this class of indebtedness will imperil the property of the people by the burden of taxation.  The experiment being practiced at this time upon our streets must end, as the experience of other cities demonstrates, a radical change, entailing large expenditures.

            Dayton is compactly built and growing rapidly; sewerage and a thorough system is only being postponed; the example of our present business methods may be found in our early attempts in this line.  We shall have soon a reappraisement of realty, great and ludicrous inequalities exist, an increase in real estate values, or a just equalization may reduce present rate of taxation; thorough revision of our present methods is absolutely necessary.  The general census occurs next year; abuses have existed and are increasing; let us do no injustice, but let us above all be just and true to ourselves; our corporate limits are confined and need to be judicially extended.

            Gentlemen, there never was a time when the mutability of human affairs needed closer consideration than just now; as business men let us use business methods in our municipal affairs.”

Water Supply.

            A subject of the first importance in any city is the character and quality of its public water supply.  We deem this subject of so much consequence that we present the following facts concerning the water facilities of Dayton.  The city is possessed of water works surpassed by none in the United States.  Better and purer water is furnished the citizens of Dayton than is furnished by the water works of any other city in this country.  The water is practically free from organic matter; in fact it is as free from organic impurities as any natural water ever is.  The inorganic, or mineral constituents, are not such as are deleterious to health; the water is as cold and clear as it is good and pure, and it is delivered at all seasons of the year to consumers, in such part of the city where water is continually used, at a temperature of fifty degree Fahrenheit.  Remarkable as it seems, nevertheless it is a fact, that in the summer seasons when the thermometer is ranging in the nineties, water at a temperature of fifty degrees is following from the public drinking fountains in the city of Dayton to quench the thirst of the wayfarer as he passes by.  At the public drinking fountain in front of the Water Works pumping station, water, at a temperature of forty-four degrees, is constantly flowing.  The water as it enters the discharge mains at the pumping station is so cold that in the summer time the mains are in a continual state of perspiration, the water dripping from them all the time.  The difference in the temperature in various localities is owing to the warmth of the earth; the temperature is higher after it leaves the wells and passes through the many miles of pipe now laid.  However, the water in the suburbs and remote parts of the city is much colder than any water furnished by any other city.  It is a fact that in the central portion of the city, where large quantities of water are used, and where heretofore ice had to be taken in the summer to cool the water, no ice is required for drinking water, the consumer thereby saving, in most cases, the cost of the ice.  The question now arises, from what source is this water obtained?  During the months of July and August, 1887, the Board of Water Works Trustees constructed, in the bed of the Mad River, east of Keowee street, a series of tube well, thirty in number, eight inches in diameter, and an average depth of forty feet.  The water from these wells flow on their own accord, rising above the tops of the wells and above the level of Mad river, an average height of three feet.  The temperature of the water in some of these wells being thirty-six degrees.  A valve is attached to each well so that the water can be turned off or on at pleasure.  These tube wells are all connected into a twenty inch main pipe leading to the pumping station there being a fall of eight feet from the farthest well east to the pumping station, a distance of 2,500 feet, the wells and the main connecting these are all under ground; the water is not exposed in reservoirs or other receptacles as in other cities, where too often injurious matter is allowed to concentrate.  It is impossible for impurities to enter into this water, as the source is subterranean, it being carried directly from the wells to the consumer.

            The supply seems inexhaustible, however, should the growing population in the future require more water, additional wells can be added to the plant at a trifling cost.   With the machinery now under construction the Water Works will have a capacity to pump seventeen million gallons of water per day.  Fifty miles of pipe for the supply and distribution of water are laid within the limits of the city of Dayton, and attached thereto are four hundred and seventy-six fire hydrants.  Mains are laid in every part of the city now built up, and the citizens of Dayton can congratulate themselves upon the fact that their property is as well protected  from fire as that of any other city.  Twelve miles of street mains, with one hundred forty five hydrants attached have been laid during the past year for fire protection.  Two thousand and twelve service pipes are connected with the street mains.  The citizens of Dayton can boast of having a Water Works equaled by few and surpassed by no other city.

Fire Department.

            The Dayton Fire Department is second to none in efficiency and discipline.  It is an organized paid department and is well managed in all respects.  There are now two chemical engine companies, three steam engine companies (one in reserve), two hook and ladder companies, and seven hose companies, all of which are in constant readiness to rescue life and property from the flames.  There are about fifty officers and men employed in the fire department.  They are all well trained and entirely efficient, and the apparatus in use is of the best that can be provided.

 As a Place of Residence

            Dayton has many attractions.  The location is very desirable, and its eligibility as a place of residence has exerted a powerful influence in the development of the resources of the city.  Its broad, beautiful avenues, wide business thoroughfares, numerous magnificent private residences and public buildings, and its attractive surroundings and smooth, pleasant drives, all combine to make the “Gem City” the most desirable city in the West for a place of residence.

            The city owes much of its beauty and attractiveness to the foresight of Major-General Wilkinson, at that time commander of the United States Army, who, when the city was laid out, instructed the civil engineer who had charge of the work to lay out the streets so “that a gentlemen could turn a coach and six in the streets.”  Main Street was therefore made one hundred and thirty-three feet wide, and the other twelve original streets were laid out with a width of one hundred feet, and the most fashionable part of Dayton to-day owes, in a large measure, its chief attractiveness to this wise suggestion of this aristocratic military officer.  One of the streets was named after General Wilkinson and one after Israel Ludlow, who gave the city its name, in honor of his friend, Jonathan Dayton.  All the streets are well macadamized and paved or graveled, the drives are numerous and pleasant, the level roads affording fine facilities for driving, and Dayton has, therefore, a large number of elegant and costly equipages.

The Churches.

            Dayton might well be denominated a “City of Churches,” the appropriateness of which term can be readily realized by any visitor who remarks the heaven-pointing spires that rise from every part of the city, and form a leading feature of the place.  Some of these edifices are remarkable for architectural beauty, and they are well attended.  All of the leading Christian denominations are represented in Dayton by several places of worship, and they are well attended and the pulpits are filled by men of education and true Christian spirit.  The churches in Dayton include ten Baptist, one Brethren, one “Christian” Church, two Disciples of Christ, one Evangelical Association, two Reformed, one Jewish Synagogue, six Lutheran Churches, eight Methodist, one German Methodist, two Protestant Episcopal, six Presbyterian, one United Presbyterian, six Roman Catholic, and six United Brethren.


            It may be taken for granted that a city of enterprise, such as Dayton, has considered matters of education of primary importance.  No expense has been spared, in perfecting and developing more completely a system of schools, and not content with this, several scholastic institutions of high rank have found here adequate support and management.  Schools of the best order, freely accessible to the poorest child of the city, are in daily operation.   Every child so far belongs to the state as to be entitled to a free education at the expense of the state.  Ignorance is more costly than schools, and no investment can be so uniformly productive of good returns to the state as those devoted to the culture of those who themselves are soon to be the state.  Hence, the doors of the public schools are thrown wide open, and the children are welcomed without money or price, not from the parlors of the rich only, but also from the highways and hedges.  Comparison will prove that the public school system of Dayton ranks among the best in the state, and is worthy to be classed among its attractions.  This system has proved itself adapted to the wants of the people and the demands of the times.  The city is liberal in its appropriations for its maintenance and progress, and the citizens are becoming thoroughly interested in their educational rights and privileges.  The system now embraces a normal school, a high school and inferior grades, and competent teachers and diligent pupils have contributed to its present high standard of excellence.  It is generally admitted that the work done here will compare favorably with that done in any other city of its size.  In connection with the schools, it is proper to mention the Public Library, where thousands of good books are loaned to the citizens of Dayton.  The library is an elegant building especially adapted to this purpose.  The institution is kept in the most perfect order, and a book is very seldom missed or lost.

            The public school buildings are well built, and the newest and most approved methods of study are employed, and new apparatus is introduced as rapidly as possible.  So easy and enjoyable has schooling become that pupils are almost invariably found to be willing to improve their opportunities,, with a keen appreciation of the advantages being offered to them.  There are many public institutions Dayton which give to the city of their abode credit at home, and reflect honor abroad.  There is none that calls for more genuine praise or warrants a juster praise than the Dayton public schools.

            Catholic schools were established in Dayton at the time of the organization of Emanuel Church parish fifty-five years ago, and have gone on in keeping with the progress of the times, and increasing

Facilities of Transportation.

            Dayton is extremely well endowed with facilities of transportation, and but few if any inland cities have better shipping facilities.  There are really eight separate lines of railroad radiating from the city by means of which her products can be shipped to all parts of the United States, and from the sea-board to all over the world.  The railroads centering here are the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton, the Dayton & Michigan, the New York, Lake Erie & Western, lessee of the N., Y., P., & O., the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis (Bee Line), the Dayton & Union, the Pittsburgh, the Cincinnati & St. Louis (Pan Handle), the Dayton, Ft. Wayne & Chicago, and the Home Avenue R.R.

Charitable, Benevolent & Religious Institutions

            Dayton may well boast of her noble charitable and benevolent institutions.  The principal of these are the Bethany Home for Poor and Friendless Girls, Dayton Asylum for the Insane, Home for Widows and Destitute Women of Dayton, Montgomery County Childrens Home, St. Elizabeth Hospital, Young Mens’ Christian Association, Women’s Christian Association of Dayton, City Orphan Asylum, the County Alms House, besides a number of local organizations for relief of the poor, sick and needy; some of which are of a secular character, and others controlled by the various churches, Catholic equally with Protestant.

The Central National Soldiers Home.

            This beautiful retreat for disabled volunteers of the United States is one of the most magnificent of national charities, and is an object of universal interest.  On the 21st of March, 1865, the United States Congress passed an Act authorizing the National Home for Disabled Soldiers, and three were provided for in the bill – one at Augusta, Maine; one at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the principal or Central Home at Dayton.  The establishment of the National Home for disabled volunteer soldiers (divided into four branches) was a noble tribute, coming as it did, just as the clash of arms had ceased and the smoke of battle, wafted away by the white wings of peace, revealed the picture of the Goddess of Liberty holding in her hand a scroll, with the inscription in golden letters, “The Nation to her Defenders.”

            The location of this Home at this point is a most desirable one in every sense of the term.  The spacious grounds have been laid out in the most attractive manner, and all that art could do to beautify this delightful Home has been accomplished.  Forty large buildings have been erected her, including a handsome church edifice of white limestone, which abounds in this section and closely resembles marble, and is frequently so called.  Among the other buildings is a large hospital of brick, with freestone facings, and with a capacity for three hundred patients; a brick dining-hall with seating capacity for three thousand persons, a fine library, music hall, billiard-room, bowling alley, headquarters for the commanding officer, and barracks for the men.  The grounds cover an area of one square mile, or six hundred and forty acres, and are pleasantly shaded with fine forest trees.   This area is tastefully laid out with beautiful avenues, an artificial lake, deer park, a natural grotto, well-kept lawns, with flowers and fountains.  There are nearly five thousand disabled soldiers provided for at this time, and the current expenses per year aggregate about $200,000.

            Visitors to Dayton soon learn that a drive to the Home is one of the most enjoyable features of their sojourn.  After less than three miles drive, the grounds are reached, and before entering the inclosure, the desirability of the situation is at once impressed upon the visitor.  A finer location, probably, does not exist anywhere, and the gradual rising ground upon all sides to the main building, the area is a paradise of faithful care and intelligent management.  Occupying a position upon either side of the stately edifice upon the highest point, the view that is commanded includes one of the richest and most enchanting of the famous Ohio valleys.  With a background of emerald hills, fields rich with ripening grain, and a landscape bespeaking thrift and prosperity, stands the “gem City,” her noble spires and towering chimneys in marked contrast, and yet illustrating that her citizens, though busy with the things of this world, have a concern and respect for that that follows.  Many hours can profitably be spent within the Home, and many an interesting experience could these old veterans spin to listening ears.  Standing upon a small hill is a magnificent marble monument that has been erected to commemorate the brave deeds of those who gave their lives to their country.  The shaft is a relic deserving more than a passing notice.  It was formerly one of the columns of that famous old building in Philadelphia known as the United States Bank, which now exists only in history.  It is forty-eight feet in height, surmounted by a statue of colossal size of a private solider at parade-rest.  The extreme height is fifty-eight feet. On the four corners stand life-like representations of the four branches of the service, viz: Infantry, cavalry, artillery, and navy.  All of the statues are of pure white marble, and are carved in the highest style of art, coming from far-away Italy.  They stand grim and silent guardians of the dead.  The monument was secured and paid for by an organization of the Home, known as the Monumental and Historical Society.  Members of the Home and others, on payment of one dollar, become members of the Society, and in this way, together with moneys procured by lectures, exhibitions, etc., a fund sufficient to build the monument was raised.  The entire cost was about $20,000.  Around this monument is the Home cemetery, each year’s deaths forming a segment of the circle, and each grave marked with headstone giving name, birth, death, and the regiment.  The Government has evidently spared no money to make the Home a home in all respects, and in so doing, repaying the great debt that is due these heroes.


            In the way of entertainments and amusements there is much to make life in the city pleasant and sociable.  During the winter there are the usual church festivals and exhibitions.  There are also skating rinks, social and society reunions, and a number of clubs of various descriptions.  The theater is open during the season, and the cream of the dramatic and operatic profession may be seen there.  There are also a number of smaller halls in which dramatic representations, readings, etc., are given.

            Secret and other societies are well represented here.  The Masons have a large number of lodges here.  The Odd Fellows are well represented, also orders of B’nai B’rith, Kasher Shel Barsel, Grand Army of the Republic, Druids, Knights of Pythias, Elks, American Legion of Honor, Knights of the Golden Rule, Red Men, Knights of Honor, A.O.U.W., Royal Arcanum, Knights of Labor, etc.  There are also a number of musical societies, as well as clubs and social organizations.

Dayton To-Day

            Of the cities of Ohio to which aspire to the distinction of being regarded as a prominent manufacturing and distributing center, Dayton is entitled to a position in the front rank.  Her products find a market all over the country, and in some instances are shipped to Europe and other foreign parts.  The several lines of manufacture and trade are represented by houses whose characteristics are such as warrant us speaking of them in the most eulogistic terms.  They are conducted by men who believe that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well, and this principle they apply to their daily business.  Active, honorable competition has made this important trade, and the aim of her business men has been to bind this prosperous city to the rest of the country by “bands as soft as silk, yet as powerful as steel.”  Dayton, to-day, has every advantage and prospect of future growth and development.  It is situated in the midst of a fertile section of the country, with many important lines of railroad running through it, and direct communications to all seaboard and lake ports, and with natural gas at its doors ready to be piped into the city for use as fuel.  The stores of all sorts will favorably compare with those of other cities of similar dimensions, and hence, as a trading city, it has few superiors.  Dayton is, withal, a progressive city, it has few superiors.  The young business men are all enterprising and on the alert, and the pushing spirit of the times has exerted its due influences upon the older houses.  The time is not far distant when Dayton’s 60,000 will be doubled, and when it shall be one of the leading cities of the Western States.

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