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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Fun Facts about the Van Cleves

One of the first settlers to Dayton and one of the big names as well, how much do you know about Benjamin Van Cleve? Here are some facts about Benjamin, and his son John.

Benjamin Van Cleve (1773 – 1821)

  • His marriage to Mary Whitten was the first marriage registered in Dayton. They had one son, John.
  • Benjamin accompanied the first party of settlers to Dayton.
  • Benjamin established Dayton’s first library, post office, and school, all in his log cabin.

John Van Cleve (1801 – 1858)

  • He was a child prodigy. At 16, he was teaching Latin and Greek and translating plays from German and French.
  • He contributed collections to Dayton’s first natural history museum
  • Helped found Woodland Cemetery
  • Was reportedly over 300 pounds and very sensitive about his appearance. He refused to marry and would not sit for portraits or photographs.

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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The Tragic Life of Enos Doolittle and his Doolittle Tavern

In 1820, Enos Doolittle arrived in Centerville, where he quickly rented a building and opened a dry goods store. Two years later, Enos married Bathsheba Robbins, the youngest daughter of one of Centerville’s founders, Benjamin Robbins.
In the same year, Enos started buying several lots of land, and in 1823 he eventually built a two-story stone building and opened the Doolittle Tavern where the current Town Hall stands. According to The History of Montgomery County, Ohio, Containing a History of the County from 1882, the Doolittle Tavern was known as the best place to stop west of the Allegheny Mountains. Continue reading

Have you bought Sara’s Book yet?

Have you bought Sara’s book yet?

Murder & Mayhem in Dayton and the Miami Valley came out last June, featuring many true crime stories in Dayton from the 1800s and early 1900s.

You can buy an autographed copy directly from Sara here!

Also stay tuned for a post soon with some teasing previews of the stories in the book!

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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Tonja Buford-Bailey

Tonja Yvette Buford-Bailey was born December 13, 1970 in Dayton, to a mostly-single mother, and is one of seven children. At 8 years old, Tonja joined the track club at her elementary school and while attending Meadowdale High School, she became a four-time state hurdles champion.

Her successes led to three trips to the Olympics – Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, and Sydney in 2000. When Tonja made the team in 1992, she was just 21 and was the second youngest Olympian from the U.S. to be sent to Spain. Once the Dayton Daily News published an article about Tonja going to Barcelona, it was publicized that her mother wouldn’t be able to afford the trip to Spain. The article spurred Daytonians on to donate funds to pay for the trip, and Tonja’s mother was able to see Tonja compete.

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Edith Deeds

Edith Deeds was born in Spring Valley in 1869, to Samuel and Mary Walton, and was the older sister of William Walton. In her early life, Edith studied music, painting, and languages at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Though her father Samuel was a Quaker, the family attended the First Baptist Church after moving to Dayton. It was there that Edith met Colonel Edward Deeds. Edith and Edward married on June 5, 1900. Throughout their marriage, Edith assisted her innovative husband and the infamous Barn Gang by performing office work and participating in the development of the automobile self-starter.
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Benjamin Archer

In 1788, Benjamin Archer moved to Kentucky from New Jersey with his brothers-in-law, Aaron Nutt, Sr. and Benjamin Robbins. The three men struggled with the existence of slavery in Kentucky and after issues with land titles, they decided to leave Kentucky and move to Ohio. Archer, Robbins, and Nutt are considered to be the founders of Centerville.

Archer purchased over 500 acres of land near Clyo Road and Alex-Bell Road – which was originally outside of Centerville’s city limits. Archer came back to Ohio in 1798 to settle with his family.
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