History of City of
Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio
by Rev. A. W. Drury
- Vol. 1 -
CITY OF DAYTON.
THE FOUNDING OF THE DAYTON
Environment - Large purchases of
lands - The Surveys - West of the Miami -
Judge Symmes -
Governor St. Clair - General Dayton -
Colonel Ludlow -
Van Cleve's account of survey and settlement -
Newcom's Party - Thompson's Party - First Necessities
- Newcom's Tavern
The Indians - Schools and Churches - Stores and mills
- Social events
Neighboring Settlements - Roads - First Boat -
Dayton Township - Land Titles - Land Sales - Memorial
Suits in the Supreme Court -
Sketches of First Settlers
Character of the First Settlers
PURCHASES OF LANDS
|WEST OF THE
|GOVERNOR OF ST.
ACCOUNT OF SURVEY & SETTLEMENT
|SUITS IN THE
OF FIRST SETTLERS.
The first settlers of Dayton will ever
hold a place of special interest. This
chapter may well be brought to a close with
sketches of these pioneers.
WILLIAM HAMER was
a native of Maryland. In 1792, he, with
his wife and children, came west, descending
the Ohio river to Cincinnati in a flatboat,
built by himself and his son, Solomon,
then sixteen years of age. The lumber in
the boat was used in constructing a house, in
which the family lived until they started to
their place on Mad river, in March, 1796.
The children in the family were Solomon,
Thomas, Nancy, Elizabeth, Sarah and
Polly. Mr. Hamer was a
Methodist local preacher, and a family prayers
could be heard a great distance.
Religious meetings were early held at his
place. He located on section
twenty-nine, the section which under Symmes'
contract was to be devoted to the support of
religion. He derived no advantage,
however, from this fact. In this home, a
son was born, December 9, 1796, and out of
regard for the new settlement was given the
name Dayton. In 1827, Mr.
Hamer died as the result of an accident
while on his way to Cincinnati. Of his
children, Nancy married William
Gahagan, who came on the pirogue, and
Sarah married in 1801, David Lowry,
who had previously settled on Donnel's creek
in Greene county.
JONATHAN and EDWARD MERCER
settled on Mad River, eight miles from its
mouth and there established what was called
Mercer's Station, then an exposed place which
they twice were compelled to abandon because
of danger from Indians. Jonathan
Mercer died prior to 1810
GEORGE NEWCOM was born in
the north of Ireland, of Presbyterian stock in
1771, and in 1775 was brought to this country
by his parents. His father died in
Dayton about 1805. George Newcom
married Mary Henderson of Washington
county, Pennsylvania, and moved to Cincinnati
about 1794. A daughter born in 1794 in
Cincinnati, died before the family left that
place. The next child, John W.,
was born September 9, 1797, near Hamilton,
married Martha Grimes, November 20,
1820, and died July 7, 1836. A daughter,
Jane, was born April 14, 1800, being
the first girl child born in Dayton. She
married, May 20, 1819, Nathaniel Wilson.
The two next children, George Alexander
and Charles Grimes, died in infancy.
The next child, Eliza Jane, was born
April 17, 1825, married John Comly, and
died March 5, 1873. The next child,
Mary Ann, was born January 9, 1827, and
died May 18, 1854. The wife of Mr.
Newcom died in 1834, and two years later
he married Elizabeth Bowen, a widow.
George Newcom was a soldier of Wayne's
army. He also served in the War of 1812.
He was the first Sheriff of Montgomery county,
holding that office five years. He was
the later state senator, filling that position
eight years. He was a member of the
lower house five years, and filled many other
positions of honor and trust. His name,
however, will always stand most closely
connected with the old tavern, the center of
every form of activity when Dayton was at best
an experiment. He died February 25,
a brother of George, was about twenty
years of age when he came to Dayton. He
married Miss Charlotte Nolan, of
Kentucky. For a number of years he lived
on a farm near Dayton. He served in the
War of 1812, and died a few months after his
enlistment as a result of exposures in the
army. A son, Robert, was a
prominent carpenter and builder, and a
grandson, Milo G. Newcom, at present
(1909) lives on Wilkinson street.
THOMAS DAVIS was a native
of Wales. He was soldier in the
Revolutionary war. He settled on the
bluffs, south of Dayton. He brought with
him a large family. His son, Owen
Davis, was in business for himself and a
taxpayer in 1798. He operated for many
years a mill five miles west of Xenia,
on the Big Beaver creek. About the mill
a few houses were built and here the first
Greene county court was held in 1803.
JOHN DAVIS, a brother of
Thomas Davis, is said to have settled
on the west side of Miami river. He was
killed by an accident at Cooper's mill in
1799. This is said to have been the
first death that occurred at Dayton.
WILLIAM CHENOWETH brought his
family with him from Kentucky. He was a
blacksmith, but did not work at his trade as
shown by an advertisement in a Cincinnati
paper, stating that there was no blacksmith
within twenty miles of Dayton. His home
on Mad river was, in 1803, included within the
limits of Greene county.
JOHN DOROUGH, a married man, was
a miller by trade. He owned a mill on
Mad river, later known as Shoup's mill
and later still as Kneisley's mill.
DANIEL FERRELL came with his family from western
Virginia, and settled on land, probably now
within the limits of Miami county.
JAMES MORRIS came from Pennsylvania and served in the
expedition of General Harmar, in 1790.
He was a farmer. He was twice married,
after coming to the new settlement, but left
ABRAHAM GRASSMIRE, an unmarried
German, was a weaver by trade. He was
handy in the construction of household
articles and helped to make the first looms
for the settlers. He moved to Honey
creek about 1802.
SOLOMON GOSS, who was living in
Dayton in 1799, probably soon afterward moved
further up the Miami.
SAMUEL THOMPSON came from
Pennsylvania to Cincinnati where he married
Catherine, widow of John Van Cleve. He
was the leader of the party coming by water.
With him were his wife, Catherine,
their little daughter, Sarah, two years
old, and Matthew, two months old, and
Mrs. Thompson's daughter, Mary Van
Cleve, nine years old, and her son,
Benjamin Van Cleve. Mr. Thompson
held a number of offices in the new community.
He was drowned in February, 1815, in Mad river
just below the Staunton road ford. His
wife died August 6th, 1837.
WILLIAM GAHAGAN, a young
Irishman, came to Cincinnati with General
Wayne's army, in 1793 and served through 1794
and 1795. He afterward made his home
with William Hamer whose daughter,
Nancy, he married. In 1794, he and
Benjamin Van Cleve assisted in
conveying army supplies on the Ohio river and
later he assisted Captain Dunlap in
surveying expeditions. About 1805, he
moved to what came to be the territory of
Miami county, where he died in 1845. He
and Benjamin Van Cleve were the twin
screws in propelling the pirogue up the Miami.
MRS. McCLURE joined the party of
settlers, bringing with her her children,
James, John, Thomas, Kate, and Ann.
Her husband was killed in St. Clair's defeat.
The family after living in Dayton four or five
years, moved to Honey creek.
BENJAMIN VAN CLEVE, and the
family to which he belonged have great
interest to every citizen of Dayton.
John Van Cleve, the founder of the family
in America, came from Holland to Long Island
about 1650, later settling in New Jersey.
Benjamin Van Cleve was the son of
John and Catherine Benham Van Cleve, his
father being the son of Benjamin and Rachel
Van Cleve. John Van Cleve was
residing in Monmouth county, New Jersey, when
four of his children were born, Benjamin,
born February 24, 1773; Ann, born July
30, 1775, maried to Jerome Holt; William,
born in 1777; Margaret, born in
February, 1779, married to George Reeder;
Mary, born February 10, 1787, and Amy,
born in July, 1789, were born while the
family were residing in Washington county,
Pennsylvania. The family determining to
move west, came down the Ohio river in a boat
arriving at Cincinnati, Januayr 3, 1790.
Here John Van Cleve followed the trade
of blacksmith, engaging, likewise, in farming.
In 1791, while at work in an out-lot in
Cincinnti, he was killed y the Indians.
Benjamin, the oldest child, now
eighteen years of age, at once took, as best
he could, a place of a father in the family.
Mrs. Van Cleve later married Samuel
Thompson and to them were born two
children, Sarah and Matthew,
before they moved to Dayton. Much of the
time between 1791 and 1794. Benjamin
was employed in the quarter-master's
department in connection with Fort Washington.
Among other duties he accompanied brigades of
loaded pack horses to the headquarters of St.
Clair's army, was present at his defeat,
furnishing a vivid account of the same.
In 1795, he accompanied Captain Dunlap's
surveying party to the Mad river country, was
present when Colonel Ludlow surveyed
the plat of Dayton, and in 1796 was one of the
first settlers of Dayton. His married to
Mary Whitten, August 28, 1800, was the
first marriage in the new settlement. In
Dayton he was the first postmaster, the first
school teacher, the first clerk of the court,
serving with a slight break till the close of
his life, which occurred November 29, 1821.
He was the father of five children, John
Whitten, born June 27, 1801, died
September 6, 1858; William James, born
October 10, 1803, died October 30, 1808;
Henrietta Maria, born November 16, 1805,
married Samuel B. Dover; Mary Cornelia,
born December 2, 1807, married James
Andrews; Sarah Sophia, born November 24,
1809, married David C. Baker. His
wife died December 28, 1810, and March 10,
1812, he married Miss Mary Tamplin.
Of him, his friend and associate, Colonel
John Johnston said: "God never made
a better man than was Benjamin Van Cleve."
He was an active member in the
WILLIAM VAN CLEVE was
nineteen years of age when he came to Dayton.
He lived in Dayton a few years. He later
purchased a quarter section of land a short
distance southeast of Dayton. He married
Effie Westfall, by whom he had several
children. His wife died and he married a
second time. On the death of his second
wife, he again married. His life to 1812
was that of a farmer. In the War of 1812
he raised in Dayton a company of riflemen, and
in June was ordered to guard supply trains and
to protect the frontier. After the war
he kept a tavern at the junction of Warren and
Jefferson streets, where he died in 1828.
ROBERT EDGAR, JEROME HOLT
and D. C. COOPER
came to Dayton as permanent residents in 1796
only a few weeks or months after the coming of
the first settlers, all of them having been at
the place of settlement with surveying parties
the preceding year. They may, therefore,
well be called first settlers.
ROBERT EDGAR was born at Staunton,
Virginia, February 8, 1770. He was of
Scotch-Irish descent. About 1780, his
father moved, with his family, to the location
of Wheeling, Virginia, where in 1792 he was
killed by the Indians. Shortly afterward
Robert Edgar, with his brother, Andrew,
and sister, Nancy, came dow the Ohio
river to Cincinnati. In 1795 he was a
chain carrier in the party of D. C. Cooper,
in marking out the road to Mad river.
When he came to Dayton in the spring or summer
of 1796, he complied with the conditions for
receiving a donation in-lot and a donation
out-lot. He was soon employed in
building the two-story house of hewed logs for
George Newcom, which after receiving an
addition in 1798-99, became Newcom's tavern.
September 17, 1798, he married Mrs.
Margaret Gillespie Kirkwood and moved into
a cabin that he had erected on the north bank
of Mad river. As this was a favorite
camping place for the Indians in making visits
to the settlement, the family were much in
peril and subject to much annoyance from the
Indians. A horse's back was their ferry
in crossing Mad river. As he was a
mechanic, up to 1800, he was constantly
employed by Mr. Cooper in getting out
timber and building head-gates and mills.
The mills were in the village and on Rubicon
creek near where the Cash Register works now
are. In 1799, he built the tub-mill or
"corn cracker" on Rubicon creek for Mr.
Cooper. Before this, he may have
assisted in building the distillery near the
same place. When in 1801 he leased
Cooper's mills in the village, he moved into a
house at the corner of Water and Mill streets,
belonging to Cooper.
purchased land a part of which became the
Edgar plat on Wayne avenue, and began
farming. Later he purchased a
quarter-section on which he opened up a fine
stone-quarry. Mr. Edgar served in
the War of 1812. Mrs. Edgar at
home baked bread or hard tack for the army.
After the war he returned to his farm.
When the canal was being built, he constructed
the bridges at Third and Fifth streets.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar
living past childhood were: Jane Allen,
born November 24, 1800, married Augustus
George; Robert A., born October 10, 1803,
married Catherine Iddings; Samuel D.,
born March 26, 1806, married Minerva A.
Jones; Mary, born April 8, 1811, married
Stephen Johnston; John F., born October
29, 1814, married Effie A. Rogers.
Mr. and Mrs. Edgar were zealous Christian
workers, being members of the Presbyterian
church. Mr. Edgar died December
19, 1838, and Mrs. Edgar died November
COLONEL JEROME HOLT was born February
21, 1763. He was the brother-in-law of
Benjamin Van Cleve, having married his
sister, Ann. In 1797, he settled on a
farm near Dayton. In 1800 he was
appointed constable of Dayton township and
from 1808 to 1811 was sheriff of Montgomery
County. He was colonel of the Fifth
Regiment of Militia from 1810 to 1812.
Colonel Holt died in Wayne township
December 28, 1840.
DANIEL C. COOPER, more than any
other man, deserves the credit for being the
founder and truest benefactor of Dayton.
He was born in Morris county, New Jersey,
November 20, 1773. He was educated for a
surveyor. MORE TO BE ADDED
DANIEL ZIEGLER COOPER, the only
one of the six children of Daniel C. Cooper
who grew up to maturity, was born November 8,
1812. He graduated from Princeton
College, married Miss Letitia Smith in
Philadelphia, and died in Dayton December 4,
1836. His widow married a Mr.
Backus, a man of wealth, and the estate
was managed by E. W. Davies and
Alexander Grimes as trustees and
contributed much to the progress of Dayton.
CHARACTER OF THE FIRST