The Day They Hung John McAfee

In 1825, a man by the name of John McAfee was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to death by hanging. Although he never made a formal confession, he was said to have written one out in rhyme:

Draw near young man and hear from me
my sad and mournful history.
And may you ne’er forgetful be
of all this day I fell to thee.

Before I reached my fifth year,
my father and my mother dear
were both laid in their silent grave
by Him who their being gave.

No more a mother’s love I shared,
no more a mother’s voice I heard,
no more was I a father’s joy –
I was a helpless orphan boy.

Continue reading

Dayton Firsts Part 5

First Newspaper – First regularly published newspaper was “The Repertory,” published by William McClure and George Smith, the initial issue appearing on Friday, September 18, 1808.

First Political Convention – Held on September 6, 1809.

First Drug Store – It was opened in 1809 by Dr. Wood in Reid’s Inn, then occupying a part of the present site of Loew’s theater.

First “Fourth” Celebration – Dayton’s first public celebration of the Fourth of July, with a parade and speeches, was held in 1809.

Continue reading

The Man Who Sent Wilbur on the Wright Path

If any fact is known about Dayton, it’s that Wilbur and Orville Wright created their heavier-than-air Flying Machine in Dayton, Ohio. What many don’t know, is that it almost didn’t happen.

Wilbur had set his sights on Yale. A star athlete in football, skating, and gymnastics, Wilbur intended to leave Dayton behind. It was the Winter of 1886 that changed the course of history for Wilbur and the future of flight.

Continue reading

Dayton Firsts Part 4

It’s that time again! Let’s find out more about the early years of Dayton!

First Library — The first library association (also the first in the state of Ohio) was formed on February 1, 1805, through an act of the legislature. Rev. William Robinson served as the first president of the organization.

First Graveyard — Next to the Presbyterian church at the corner of Third Street and Main Street. In 1805, Daniel Cooper gave four acres of land between Ludlow Street and Wilkinson Street to form a cemetery shared by the Presbyterians and Methodists.

Continue reading

Dayton Firsts Part 3

On the first Friday off every month, we share some firsts for Dayton!

First Prosecutor – Daniel Symmes, of Cincinnati

First Coroner – James Milles

First Jail – It stood on the site of the present county jail on West Third Street, and was erected in 1804. It was of log construction, 30×16 feet, with log flooring and ceiling. It contained two disconnected cells and was erected by David Squirer at his bid of $299.

First Post Office – The first post office was opened in 1804 in a cabin at First and St. Clair Streets with Benjamin VanCleve as the first postmaster.

First Metropolitan Police force – Organized in 1873 with a chief, two lieutenants, 26 patrolmen, three roundsmen and three turnkeys.

Continue reading

Dayton Firsts Parts 1

Curious about the early days of Dayton? Here’s a little more information:

First Surveyor – Daniel C. Cooper, of New Jersey. He laid out lands now embraced within the city of Dayton.
First Blacksmith – The first blacksmith to open up a shop in Dayton was John Burns. Others opening in competition with him were Obadiah Conover, Jacob Kuhn and James Davis.

Continue reading

Fun Facts about Dayton – Part 3

Here’s some more fun facts about Dayton we’ve learned during our research:

  •  The Private Fair statue on Main Street just south of Monument Avenue in downtown was almost a statue of the Goddess of Liberty, but ex-Civil War soldiers protested, and requested the goddess instead be a statue of a soldier. Private George Washington Fair of Dayton was the model for the statue, which was erected in 1884 – the original location at the intersection of Main and Monument.
  • The statue of President McKinley in Cooper Park (behind the Dayton Library on Third Street and St. Clair) was built from funds raised and donated by local schoolchildren.
  • Continue reading