The Escape of John Wilkes Booth

This story is only indirectly connected to Dayton, but too fascinating not to share!

In 1924, Whitney Bolton, editor of the Dayton Daily News, wrote an article telling of the escape of John Wilkes Booth, after interviewing reporter John Young. At age seven, Young had attended the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre with his father. It was a night Young would never forget.

Near the end of the second act, a shot rang out and a man crashed to the stage, brandished a long knife, yelled, “Sic semper tyrannis!” and ran away, a significant limp in his step.

Years later, Young interviewed James Kelley, a man who had been a member of the Richmond Theatre Company with John Wilkes Booth. Booth and Kelley had shared a dressing room and the services of a young dressing valet named Henry.

When the war started, Booth became passionate for the South, at first enthusiastically, then slowly becoming sullen and angry. The change in his mood caused John Wilkes Booth to be fired from his acting job. Booth left for Washington, and took Henry with him. He left behind a number of play manuscripts with scribbled notes in his handwriting. Kelley kept the manuscripts.

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More Dayton Fun Facts

Here are some more fun facts that we’ve come across in our research!

  • Legendary bank robber ‘Red’ Leary made an appearance at the 1874 Dayton Fair (also known as the South Ohio Fair) to pick-pocket the crowds. Red was later arrested at the Union Depot while waiting for his train out of town. Due to lack of evidence, he was never formerly charged.
  • In 1841, a skeleton of a Native American wearing a necklace with 170 copper beads was found in a mound on the east end of First Street. The mound was destroyed to clear way for a road.
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“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of…

…a bike ride.” – John F. Kennedy

Just before the Wright Brothers opened their shop in the spring of 1893, George P. Huffman purchased the Davis Sewing Machine Company and moved the factory to Dayton. By 1892, the first Huffy bicycle was built. Years later in 1924, George’s son Horace founded the Huffman Manufacturing Company and continued to manufacture and sell bicycles under the now well-known name of Huffy.

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Dayton Firsts Part 10

Time for some more firsts!

  • First Canal boat – The first canal boat built in Dayton was christened the Alpha and was launched on Saturday, August 16, 1828, at 2 p.m. The first canal boat to arrive in Dayton with the formal opening of the canal was the General Brown. It arrived at the landing near the present site of the main branch of the Dayton Metro Library on January 26, 1829.
  • First Mayor – In 1829 a new charter went into effect in Dayton. Under it, the chief executive of the city became referred to as the Mayor, instead of the President of Council. Under the new charter John Folkerth was made the first Mayor of Dayton.
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