Even as a child, Helen Octavia Dickens knew she wanted to be a doctor even though she had many odds stacked against her as a black woman born in 1909. Helen’s father was born into slavery then raised by a Union Colonel from the age of nine. After obtaining his freedom, he named himself Charles Warren Dickens, after the famous author he once met. Helen Octavia Dickens was born in Dayton on February 21st, 1909.
Helen’s father Charles had dreams of becoming a lawyer, but when racial prejudice reared its ugly head, preventing his dream, he took a job as a janitor to support his family. He never lost hope in the future for his children and sent them to one of the few integrated schools in the area to get them the best education possible. Daisy Dickens, Helen’s mother, worked as a domestic servant until she married Charles. Despite Charles insisting his wife stay at home, he encouraged Helen to become a nurse. But Helen had different plans. If she could be a nurse, Helen reasoned, she could also be a doctor. “It was what I wanted to do and I didn’t see why I couldn’t do it.” she’d say. Continue reading →
In honor of Pride Month, we thought we would re-share the story of Daytonian 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. Continue reading →
After the 2020 A World A’Fair was postponed, and then cancelled, we were so disappointed. Unfortunately, it seems like that may be the case again. Originally scheduled for Friday May 21st through Sunday May 23rd, the festival has once again been postponed, and will potentially be rescheduled for the fall.
Please enjoy some pictures from past years of A World A’Fair.
On a Ridgeville Ohio farm in 1859, Dudley Keever was born to Quaker parents. Dudley’s father Moses was a doctor serving Ridgeville and Springboro. Dudley attended a one-room schoolhouse, then Miami Valley Institute in Springboro, and then graduated the Miami Medical College in Cincinnati (later the University of Cincinnati) in 1884.
Now Dr. Keever, Dudley started his own practice in Springboro, and then met fellow Quaker Ida Wright, who he married. In 1890, the Keevers moved to Centerville and opened a practice on the northeast corner of Main Street and Franklin Street, where City Barbecue is presently.
“April 1, 1796. Landed at Dayton, after a passage of ten days, William Gahagan and myself having come with Thompson’s and McClure’s families in a large pirogue.”
– Benjamin Van Cleve, in his journal.
“The boat party was the first to arrive. Rounding the curve in the river, where for so many years since then it has been flowing under the Dayton View bridge, the pioneers perceived before their eyes the swift current of Mad River emptying itself into the main channel, just as it had been described, and saying to each other (so we may imagine), ‘Yes, this must be the place,’ they tied the pirogue to a tree at the head of St. Clair Street and led by Mrs. Thompson, all clambered ashore.
At that moment DAYTON came on the map!”
– Charlotte Reeve Conover, The Story of Dayton.
Founder’s Point at Riverscape. Underneath the canopy, there are some footprints in the concrete simulating the steps of the settlers. Also, there is an etching stating, “On April 1st, 1796, the first settlers of Dayton, led by Samuel Thompson, came ashore near this spot. The party included the first Daytonian, Benjamin Van Cleve. According to one account, the first person to set foot on shore was Catherine Van Cleve Thompson, great-great-grandmother of the Wright brothers.”
Howard Burba, a well known Dayton Daily News reporter in the early 1930s, wrote many stories centering not only around Dayton events, but Dayton itself. One of which was an article he found from the New York Daily Graphic, October 29, 1878. Quotes from this article describe Dayton as seen through the eyes of C. H. Miller, a New York journalist.
Here are some excerpts from the article he wrote:
“Dayton, the county seat of Montgomery Co., is universally conceded by visitors to be one of the most beautiful cities on the continent. And its surroundings are equally attractive. It is notable for its broad, clean, smooth avenues, its uniformly comfortable and numerous elegant residences, its admirable public school system and school houses, its handsome church architecture, its numerous and large manufacturing establishments and the general air of thrift and solid comfort which pervades the community. It is indisputably one of the most delightful of inland cities for a home, and as reliable in its established wealth and credit as any fortunate city in the Union. These are features which impress all strangers, and the well-contented people of Dayton are pardonable for the pride they take in their most enviable city.”