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Isaac Davis Coal & Oil Business


Isaac Davis Coal & Oil Business
225 E. Fifth Street

by Charles F. Sullivan

     In the Sunday edition of the Dayton News of May 7, 1944, is a picture of the office of Isaac (Ike) Davis, and old two room brick office building at 225 E. Fifth Street, which he used as his office in the coal and oil business for many years.
     He was a one legged man, using one crutch and a horse and buggy to get around, and he could get in and out as quick as a man having two legs. He lived upon W. Fourth Street, so a horse and buggy was a necessity for him. The picture shows him standing on one leg at the right and his delivery wagon on the left with two barrels upon it. Just behind Mr. Davis was a driveway over the scale into the yard and beyond this was the double tracks of the railroad, then Wyandot Street, then a siding for the elevator, then the elevator, a large building. Upon the side of it was the sign “CITY ELEVATOR”, second line “J. DURST PROPRIETOR” but only a few of these letters appear in the picture. Behind Mr. Davis’s hat you can see a freight car, with a grain door, ready to load or unload. Over the front door of the office, you see an old time kerosene burning lamp to light the street and advertise the business.
     Above this on the building is the sign “CASH FOR EMPTY BARRELS”.
     In the yard was a railroad siding built upon a tressel to hold three cars. I think that at this time Mr. Davis was the only oil dealer in the city. Kerosene was then almost the only oil sold and was used for house lighting, a big improvement over candles, and electric lights did not come in until long after this.
     The property then belonged to the Chas. Burrough’s estate and I took over the lease about 1892 and ran a coal yard there for about three years when the lease ran out. The property was then sold to Wm. Burkhardt, a meat packer upon Valley Street and he raised the rent, so I moved away. When the Miami and Erie Canal was first built, Fifth Street dead ended at the canal.
     About 1840 a stone bridge was built over the canal making quite a hill to go over, for the bridge had to give plenty of head room for the canal boats.
     The office of the Durst Milling Co. was at street level of the elevator, then was the canal feeder, then the flour mill. From there the street sloped to the Fire Dept. at Brown Street.
     At this high spot, a hydraulic crossed Fifth Street just below the street grade, giving the Kratochwill Milling Co. water power.
     Before this bridge was built Fifth Street was called Loury from Brown to Wayne and beyond Wayne Lodwick Street.
     On the south side of this hump of Fifth was a building known as the Oregon Mills, but was not used as such in my memory but was the home of the Volkzeitung, and the Dayton Democrat, predecessor of the News, with J. G. Doren as editor.
     One day while located there, I stepped out of the office as a train was passing, throwing sparks every where. I had not gone a square when the fire bell rang and I hurried back to find my stable filled with hay going up in smoke.
     While here, I accepted the exclusive agency for Pocahontas coal and shipped the first car into this yard.
     When the railroad elevated their tracks, they used the channel of the canal feeder for their right of way and the canal became Patterson Boulevard. The stone bridge was removed and the street straightened and the hump removed, so it makes it look much different.
     It was claimed in those days that more people crossed that bridge every day than passed before any other location in the city of Dayton. This picture was taken several years before I became interested in it.

Chas. F. Sullivan
1005 Fort St.
Boise, Idaho