Fun Facts about Dayton – Part 1

There are many things to know about the Dayton area, and sometimes Dayton Unknown learns a few new things that are interesting, but not long enough for an entry. Here are a few fun facts we have learned:

  • Dayton was the point of departure for the first cargo shipment by plane. The shipment was on November 7, 1910 and contained two bolts of silk. The plane traveled from Huffman Prairie to Columbus. After this event, postcards of the Wright’s biplane was sold with small pieces of the fabric attached to it.
  • Harry Houdini performed twice for the Dayton area. The first performance was in 1916, and he performed an escape act from a cask of beer at the Olt Brewing Company. The second performance was in 1925, and he escaped from a wooden box built by NCR carpenters.
  • In the early 1800s, Warren County had a large population of Shakers. The Shakers were not popular in the area, and mobs formed to invade the Shaker communities, in attempts to drive them out. One day, the Shakers cursed the area, walking up and down the streets of Lebanon, calling for “woe on all persecutors.” Later that same day, two Shakers rode into Dayton and placed “blessings on all kindly souls” of Dayton.
  • Kentucky-born Daytonian Franklin Sousley was one of the six men who helped raise the flag in the iconic Iwo Jima photo. Also, the film the picture was on was developed by another Daytonian, Joseph Fleck.
  • E. E. Alderman, a Daytonian interested in short wave reception, relayed thousands of messages to families during WWII. Families received news of whether their loved ones had died, were prisoners, or were coming home. By doing this for the Dayton community, it is estimated that he relayed messages to over 9,000 families.
  • Myron E. Scott, a photographer for the Dayton Daily News, noticed 3 boys attempting to race engineless cars down Big Hill Road in Oakwood.  He offered a trophy to the winner of the race that was taking place the next week. Nineteen boys showed up the next week with their engineless cars. Myron knew he had to expand on this race. And on August 19, 1933, 362 racers and an estimated 40,000 spectators showed up to the first official Soap Box Derby.

While we’ve heard many of these fun little tidbits over the years, we wouldn’t have been reminded of them if not for Curt Dalton’s books, Gem City Jewels. If you’ve never heard of Mr. Dalton, please check him out. He’s a local historian and author who also runs Dayton History Books Online.

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