A Few Fun Facts about Dayton

It’s shaping up to be a busy year, so here are a few fun facts about Dayton!

  • Dayton’s first attorney was Judge Joseph Crane.
  • James Cox served 2 terms as governor of Ohio and ran for US President.
  • Charles Lindbergh flew into Dayton’s McCook Field on August 5, 1927.
  • Susan (Koerner) Wright, mother to Wilbur and Orville, was highly-educated, especially for her time. She met Milton, her future husband, while attending Huntsville College in Huntington, Indiana. After being ordained in the United Brethren ministry, Milton was assigned to Oregon. He asked Susan to accompany him as his wife. She agreed to the marriage proposal but did not want to go to Oregon. She waited 2 years and they wed on November 24, 1859.

Huffman Dam

After the Great Flood of 1913, the Miami Conservancy District, led by Colonel Edward Deeds and Arthur Morgan, started the process of building dams to prevent future flooding catastrophes in Dayton. Driving along Route 444, you’ve probably glanced over to see the Huffman Dam.

Huffman Dam
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Benjamin Robbins

Benjamin Robbins is one of the founders of Centerville, along with his brothers-in-law, Benjamin Archer, and Aaron Nutt, Sr..

Robbins was born in New Jersey in 1760 and was a surveyor and farmer. He married Bathsheba Nutt (Aaron’s sister) in 1782. Throughout their marriage, they had a total of 12 children:

  • Nancy (1783-1858)
  • Richard (1784-1837)
  • Abigail (1787-1854)
  • Elizabeth (1790-1879)
  • Benjamin (1791-1792)
  • Rebecca (1793-????)
  • Samuel (1795-1862)
  • Aaron (1797-1825)
  • Levi (1800-1866)
  • twins Mary (1803-1833) and John (1803-1805)
  • Bathsheba (1806-1845)

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August Foerste – This Guy Rocks

Born May 7th, 1862, in Dayton to parents John and Louise, August Foerste (pronounced first-ee) became Dayton’s very own Natural Historian. After attending a lecture by OSU president and geologist Edward Orton in high school, August became interested geology. He graduated from Old Central High School in 1880, then taught at Schoolhouse No. 2 in Centerville until 1883.

During his time teaching, August studied the Allen Quarry tucked away in Centerville (where the Rod & Reel Fishing Club is now), and identified and named the formation there, and discovered a new classification of limestone – which he named the Brassfield limestone. He was also responsible for naming a rock formation the Beavertown Marl at the quarry site at Wilmington Pike and Dorothy Lane. August had found his specialty, and many fossils found in the Centerville area were named by him.
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Fairmont Firebird Symbol

Most Kettering residents have a connection to Kettering Fairmont, whether it’s because they attended or they have children who do/did. For those they can easily remember the blue and white school colors and the beloved mascot, the firebird. For some residents, they can even remember Fairmont East and Fairmont West.

Fairmont was originally opened in September 1906 on Dorothy Lane just west of Far Hills. As the population of Van Buren Township grew, the four-room schoolhouse was quickly becoming too small. A replacement building just east of the original building became the temporary high school until the new building on Far Hills at Storms Avenue (where Van Buren Middle School is now) opened in 1929. The school colors were purple and white, and the mascot was a Dragon.
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Baby Foundling – “He’s Everybody’s Baby Now”

On a cold January evening in 1944, a young girl was seen carrying a baby around the neighborhood of West Third Street. Moments later, loud cries attracted the attention of passerby Percy Dechamp to the doorway of 34 West Third Street. Upon investigation, Dechamp found a baby dressed warmly in a shirt, jacket, and kimono. He was wrapped in two blankets.

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More Fun Dayton Facts

Here are some more Dayton fun facts!

  • In 1920, Dayton had no unsolved murders.
  • During WWII, Lieutenant Harry Zavakos was reported MIA and presumed dead after his plane was shot down over China. He was actually found by the Chinese and slowly moved across the country to be returned to his unit. During the time the Chinese transported Zavakos, they continually fed him fried chicken.
  • Flight personnel gave Dayton the moniker “The Popcorn City” due to the popcorn sold at Wileswood Country Store. Some ground crews would refuse to work on aircrafts if the flight crews did not return from a trip to Dayton with “Dayton popcorn.”
  • In 1979, while excavating for the Gem Savings headquarters, the skeleton of an adult male was discovered. The site was originally the location of Dayton’s first cemetery. Since the bodies had never been moved from the location, one theory is that this particular skeleton was John Davis, an early Dayton pioneer.
  • Dayton’s most successful professional sports team was the Dayton Gems, a hockey team that played in Dayton from 1964 to 1977.
  • Electricity was introduced in Dayton in 1882, when the first electric light turned on in the Dayton Morning Journal office.
  • Ponderosa Steakhouse, which was founded in Indiana, moved its headquarters to Dayton in 1968, where it flourished for decades.
  • During WWII, there was such a drastic labor shortage in Dayton, that a job draft was considered to fill the positions.

Fun Dayton Facts

Here are a few more interesting facts about Dayton!

  • Of the original purchasers of the land for Dayton, Jonathan Dayton’s name was chosen because it was considered the most pleasing name to grace the township.
  • Dayton’s first hanging took place on a gallows east of the river, where Sinclair Community College is now located. This fact is the basis for the storied hauntings of the campus.
  • Dayton’s flood of 1866 cost the city a quarter of a million dollars and left only the corn crops standing in its wake.
  • Dayton born Daniel Denison Bickham pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in 1886 for one game. He returned to Dayton when his father called him home because he felt baseball was “not a gentlemanly sport.”
  • Charles Bickham, Daniel’s brother, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1904 because he “crossed a fire-swept field, in close range of the enemy and bought a wounded soldier to a place of shelter.
  • Father to Daniel and Charles Bickham, William Bickham, was Dayton’s leading newspaper editor. After the riot that burned the office of the Dayton Journal, Bickham arrived to revive the paper and return it to financial stability.
  • The Wright brothers built their first glider for about $15.

Olt Brewing Company

Charles J. Olt, along with his three brothers, Frederick, Edward, and Oscar and their father John incorporated the Olt Brewing Company (later the Olt Brothers Brewing Company) in 1907. Charles served as the president of Olt Brewing Company for many years. Olt Brewing operated from 1907 until 1942, even staying in operation during Prohibition by distilling water and distributing dairy products.
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Miscellaneous Dayton Facts

It’s been a while since we shared some miscellaneous facts about Dayton, so here are a few!

  • The expression “You’re fired” dates back to John Henry Patterson, founder of NCR. Patterson was reported to have terminated an employee by having his desk taken outside and set on fire.
  • The name of the horse in the statue with John H. Patterson in Hills and Dales Park is Spinner.
  • The Ohio accent is the basis of the accent taught to newscasters – The Ohio accent is considered to be so bland that you don’t hear the accent, just the words.
  • The group Stars of Joy was the first local African American gospel group to air on WHIO TV.
  • Possum Run Creek got its name from the great number of possums being caught in the lowlands.
  • John H Patterson urged the city to build a road over the canal, and that’s how Patterson Boulevard got its name.
  • The Thomas Clegg house on the corner of First and Jefferson is Dayton’s oldest continuously occupied home. Downtown used to be a glamorous place for the rich to live in young Dayton, but the 1913 flood and increasing noise of streetcars and traffic made downtown living less appealing. The house was renovated in the early 2000s for condo use.
  • The Wright Brothers purchased Spruce from Requarth Lumber in Downtown Dayton for the second and third Wright flyers.