Farmersville Bottle Farm

“I would live by my wits while my brothers live by the sweat of their brows.”– Winter Zellar (Zero) Swartsel, Grandfather of Pop Art

Tired of the hard-working routine of Farmersville, Zero and a friend decided to bike first to New York City, head west, then travel the world, collecting items along the way. Later, his home in Farmersville and also his yard would be decorated extensively with these items. His twenty-two acre farm soon became a canvas for his art, using glass he collected from “wasteful” people.

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Source: Remarkable Ohio

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Going Out With a Bang: My God, I’ve Shot Myself

Clement Vallandigham (July 29, 1820 – June 17, 1871)

It was going to be the biggest case of his life. Fifty year old Dayton Attorney Clement Vallandigham was to defend Thomas McGehan, who was charged with murder for a barroom brawl turned deadly in Hamilton, Ohio. Having been unable to find a jury un-swayed by newspaper reports in Hamilton, the trial moved to Lebanon.

Vallandigham and his partner, Daniel Haynes, formed a practice that had become “one of the best and ablest in the West”, with stories of Vallandigham making final pleas so persuasive that the jury was left in tears. Nobody researched more than he did, and he was adept at anticipating the rebuttal arguments of the opposing lawyers.

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More Interesting Dayton Facts

  • Susan Koerner Wright, mother of Wilbur and Orville, enjoyed making things for and with her children. Reportedly, her husband Milton could not hammer a nail straight, and she was the handy person in the family. She often made toys for the children, and even put together some small appliances to make her household chores easier.
  • In 1900, Dayton listed more inventions than any other city in the United States.
  • John Patterson could not stand Charles Kettering, and would often fire him from his company, NCR. Edward Deeds would always hire him back.
  • During rainy seasons, carriages would get stuck in the mud. To remedy this, huge logs were buried under the mud, lining Dayton streets in a “corduroy” fashion, preventing wagons and animals from sinking.
  • Dayton has a history of big floods. In 1847, the levee broke as a result of residents near the river taking dirt from too close to the levee to fill potholes.
  • James M. Cox, founder of Dayton Daily News, served two terms as Governor of Ohio. He also unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States in 1920.
  • No unsolved murders occurred in Dayton in 1920.
  • Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell believed Dayton should have an art museum. She opened one at St. Clair and Monument in 1920, with 3 exhibits being permanent. Seven years later she offered the city a large, Italian villa style building, finished in 1930. Julia paid the operating expenses for the Dayton Art Institute until she died in 1944.
  • In the late 1950s doctors at WPAFB were given an assignment – to pick out astronauts. Unsure of what astronauts were, they discussed with the government until they concluded that they were something like test pilots. Of the men recruited, they picked men who fit their criteria, arbitrary items such as age, size, height, etc. When the government reviewed the list, they asked why there was no marine on the list. The doctors had picked one out, but he was slightly older and slightly taller than their cutoff points. That man was John Glenn.
  • The David Bernie family was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1976 for having the most physicians in a single family. In the 1930s, General Practitioner David Bernie met Helen Kuhr. Helen’s brother Abe was a family doctor and his wife Hortense specialized in Pulmonary Medicine. Helen and David wed and had eight children. Of the three daughters, all three married doctors, and one became a doctor herself. All five of the boys became doctors. Of their fifteen grandchildren, about five of them became doctors.
  • Washington Presbyterian Church Cemetery, located at the corner of Miamisburg-Centerville Road and Southwind Drive (next to Midas), holds 89 graves, including Revolutionary War General Williams Dodds. The graves range in dates from 1830 to 1898.
  • Reverend David Winters organized the first reformed church located on Ludlow Street. For 17 years, he preached sermons in both English and German, with crowds so large that extra benches would be brought in for accommodation. Many couples wanted him to perform their wedding ceremony, as there was popular belief that any marriage over which he officiated would be prosperous. In his ministry, he married over 5,090 couples. Over time, he retired from the Ludlow Street church to focus on more rural churches until approached by a group of his friends, requesting that he help them found a German Reformed Church. Together with an Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in the neighborhood, the two denominations joined together to build a church. To honor their minister, they named the church David’s Church.

Interesting Dayton Facts

During one of our research sessions at the library, we found a great book, For the Love of Dayton: Life in the Miami Valley 1796-2001, that was published by the Dayton Daily News in 2001. The book chronicles the history of Dayton year-by-year in little blurbs, and there were a lot of fascinating facts that we just had to share!

  • 1803 – Colonel George Newcom became the first sheriff, serving until 1809. He took little pity on lawbreakers, lowering alleged offenders into his empty well, where they remained until trial.
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Orville Wright (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948)

In honor of what would be Orville’s 146th birthday, here are some facts about the younger Wright Brother:

  • Orville was a snazzy dresser – Orville wore well-tailored suits, wingtips, and “snappy argyle socks.”
  • Orville loved playing the mandolin. In fact, he played it so often that it drove his sister Katherine to say, “He sits around and picks that thing until I can hardly stay in the house the point of madness.”
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Dayton Unknown Spotlight: Laurana Wong

Back in October, we hosted the Dayton Unknown Fall Scavenger Hunt at Wegerzyn Gardens. It was a beautiful fall day, and we had some great submissions from our participants. We awarded two prizes, one of which is a feature story here on the blog. Our winner of this prize is Laurana Wong – an incredibly fascinating character.
We came up with fifteen questions we thought would truly showcase Laurana’s personality and told her that she could pick and choose which questions to answer. In true Laurana form, she decided to answer all of them! We hope you enjoy learning about her as much as we did!

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