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.
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The Story of David T. Chambers

Note: Due to the current events across the country in regards to the hurricanes and flooding, we thought we’d share some stories we have previously posted, detailing the heroism from the Dayton Flood of 1913.

The chain of events that started Dayton’s Great Flood started on March 21, 1913, with a rainstorm. Over the next few days, more rain came, ultimately weakening the levees and flooding the already oversaturated soil. Water rose quickly, and as gas lines were destroyed, a fire started downtown that destroyed most of a block.

As these events were happening, twenty four year old David T. Chambers of North Dayton could not stand by and watch without helping. From the safety of his home, which was located above the flood waters, he could see the damage being caused by the rising waters.

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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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Dayton Firsts Part 12

  • First Telegraph Message – Received in Dayton on September 17, 1847.
  • First United Brethren Church – The first United Brethren church in Dayton was organized in 1847, in a small room in the Oregon Engine House. Their first church building was erected in 1852, at Sixth Street and Logan Street, later being purchased by the city and converted into a city prison.
  • First Gas Company – Chartered February 4, 1848, by Daniel Beckel, Peter Voorhees, Daniel Stout, I.F. Howells, David Winter, J.D. Loomis, J.D. Phillips, Valentine Winters, John Mills and Daniel W. Weelock.
  • First Hebrew congregation – The first Hebrew congregation was organized in 1850. They met in the old Dayton Bank building until 1863, when they purchased the old Baptist house of worship.
  • First Railroad – The first railroad line to enter Dayton was the Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad, between Dayton and Springfield. It was formally opened on January 25th, 1851.
  • First Depot = The first railroad depot erected in Dayton stood at the northwest corner of Jefferson Street and Sixth Street, and was finished and occupied in 1851.
  • First Town Charter – The first charter of the town of Dayton was granted by the legislature on February 12, 1805. For the next ten years, the town council met at the homes of its various members.
  • First President of Council – David Reid, elected at the first meeting held following the formation of the body under the new charter.

Natalie Clifford Barney

“I built a fire to welcome her
And my voice sighed
Aloud her name. To be with her
This night, I would have died…”

Natalie Clifford Barney was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1876, to an affluent family. By age twelve, Natalie knew she was a lesbian. Although society in the late 1800’s was very conservative, Natalie knew she would “Live openly, without hiding anything.”

Natalie developed an interest in the French language as a child. Her governess often read Jules Vern stores aloud to her in French, and she had to learn the language quickly to understand the stories.  In adulthood, Natalie was fluent in French, and published most of her work in French. 

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