This Weekend’s Events

Looking for something to do this weekend? Here are a few events!

Peter Sunderland

Samuel Spencer born on April 14th, 1698 in Yorkshire England. Born to the 3rd Earl of Sunderland Charles and his commoner wife Judith, Samuel was not entitled to any inheritance or title due to his mother’s status. This led Samuel and his family to immigrate to the United States in 1737 with his children, including son William. The family all took on the surname Sunderland upon their arrival in the United States. In 1770, William Sunderland married Sarah Barraclough in Burlington County, New Jersey. William and Sarah eventually came to Ohio in 1795 along with their 18-year-old son, Peter.

Peter went on to live a storied life in Centerville.

  • In 1799, Peter Sunderland married Nancy Robbins, the daughter of one of Centerville’s founders, Benjamin Robbins in what was the first wedding ceremony to be performed in Washington Township.
  • In 1802, Peter and his brother Richard bore witness to the first will filed in Montgomery County.
  • In 1803, Peter was the defendant/perpetrator in the first court case in Montgomery County, for assault and battery on a man named Benjamin Scott. The case was held on the upper floor of Newcom’s Tavern. He pled guilt and was fined $6. A year later Scott and Sunderland were back in court, but this time Scott was convicted.
  • Sunderland served in the War of 1812.
  • Around 1820, a stone house was built on Alex-Bell Road (where Fortis College and Cross Pointe Shopping Center are now). The house had a secret hiding place which was used as part of the Underground Railroad.
  • In 1826, a slave from Kentucky known as “Black John” took refuge in the Sunderland house. When a group of men came to “reclaim” John, Peter threatened them and yelled for Black John to escape. Black John ran into the nearby woods and disappeared.
  • After hearing a rumor of an Indian uprising, Peter built a large stone springhouse on his property to protect the area. When the land was being cleared in the early 1980s for development, the spring house was rediscovered and subsequently dismantled and reassembled in Stubb’s Park.

Peter Sunderland died October 2, 1841 at the age of 67 years old. He is buried in the Sugar Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Centerville along with his father, mother, and wife.

The Tragic & Sensationalized Death of Anna Hockwalt

Anna Hockwalt
Date of Death: January 10, 1884

“Wisely they leave graves open for the dead
‘Cos some to early are brought to bed.”

During the flurry of activity in preparation for her brother’s wedding, Anna Hockwalt (also spelled Hochwalt) sat down in a chair, overcome with the excitement of the day. Moments later her mother found her in that chair, dead. A doctor determined she “was of excitable temperament, nervous and affected with sympathetic palpitation of the heart.” The wedding carried on, but with marked sadness permeating the ceremony.

The following day, attendees of Anna’s funeral remarked how natural her skin looked and that her coloring was that of a living person. Later, they told Anna’s mother they couldn’t shake the impression that she may not have been dead when buried. They approached her parents asking them to check. This idea persisted until finally the parents couldn’t take it anymore, and unearthed Anna’s coffin.
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Halfway to Halloween

This Saturday, April 29th at 5pm! Come out to the Oregon District to celebrate Halfway to Halloween with us. They will also be announcing the theme for this Hauntfest.

Outside of Clash Dayton and Heart Mercantile, vendors will be set up, including Sara selling her book!

A few activities:

  • Special Effects artist and Makeup Manager at Land of Illusion Jessica Hale
  • Burlesque performances at Next Door Dayton at 9pm.
  • Dark alternative dance party at Space Bar
  • Themed drink specials at Lily’s Bistro, Blind Bob’s, Ned Peppers, Toxic Brew Company, and Trolley Stop
  • Sushi special at Thai 9


The Bride Who Thought She Was a Widow

This 1913 flood account first appeared in the Dayton Daily News on March 25, 1962.
Bride Spent Many Hours Thinking She Was A Widow
659 Carlisle Ave.

Next Nov. 20, my husband, Frank, and I will celebrate our golden wedding anniversary. But for several hours on Tuesday, Mar. 25, 1913, I would not have believed that we would have that first anniversary together.I thought that I had been widowed after four months of marriage, that my husband had drowned in the terrible flood that hit Dayton.

On the night before that disastrous day we had walked the short distance to the river from our apartment house on Washington St. to view the rising waters.

But we weren’t too alarmed as the newspapers that day had said that Dayton would be “protected by the levies which the city’s wise forefathers had built.”

But the next morning, the water had reached the first step leading into our apartment house.

My 15-year-old brother, Bill Fette, was visiting us from Cincinnati.
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The 100th Birthday of MSgt. Richard Gard

Family and friends of Master Sergeant Richard Gard are asking for help honoring him for his upcoming 100th birthday. They are collecting cards to present to him on his birthday, coming up on April 6th.

Master Sergeant Gard landed on Normandy on D-Day and participated in the breakout from the beachhead through France to Brest. Gard was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action during the Battle of the Bulge. He also earned two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and decorations from Bastogne, Belgium, and France.

After Master Sergeant was recalled to active duty for the Korean War in 1950, he earned a degree in Engineering from UD.

A parade in his honor will be held on April 6, starting on Pearhill Drive in West Carrollton. The parade will feature Centerville VFW Post 9550, West Carrollton Police and Fire departments, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Harold Schnell Elementary, West Carrollton Marching Band, and a flyover from a 1943 PT-19A Cornell warplane by the Butler County Warbirds.

To wish Master Sergeant Gard a happy birthday, please send cards to this address:
MSgt. Richard Gard
c/o 70 Pine Street
Franklin, Ohio 45005.

For more of MSgt Gard’s story, check out this story by Dayton Daily News!

Martin Gottlieb

Although from Dayton, Author Martin Gottlieb had initially only heard of Clement Vallandigham just a few times over many years. It wasn’t until he started paying attention to the name he felt surprised knowing that despite Vallandigham’s story, he wasn’t more well known. During his author talk for the book Lincoln’s Northern Nemesis, the War Opposition and Exile of Ohio’s Clement Vallandigham, it was clear Gottlieb lived and breathed this subject while writing.

His passion for Vallandigham’s life was clear as he spoke. During the question and answer session of his author talk, Gottlieb was asked why he thought Vallandigham wasn’t more well known in today’s world. His initial answer was simple, history is told by the victors. He expanded on this by surmising that perhaps Dayton would have wanted to disassociate itself with a man who:

  • Wanted to keep slavery as-is
  • Was known for being an adversary to Abraham Lincoln
  • Accidentally shot and killed himself while demonstrating how he thinks a man shot and killed himself
  • Gottlieb retired from the Dayton Daily News in 2011 and has spent the time since researching Vallandigham for his book. Not all the time since 2011 was spent on research and writing however, as Gottlieb said he is good at being retired. Martin has also written a book called Campaigns Don’t Count. How the Media Get American Politics All Wrong. Gottlieb’s books can be bought from Amazon (linked above) or by contacting him directly at