From the 1880 History of Miami County Ohio
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP AND THE CITY OF PIQUA
By Dr. G. Volney Dorsey
Washington Township, the smallest in size, though the wealthiest and
most populas of the townships of Miam County, is situated on the western
side of the Great Miami River, and, numbering from the west is the second
in the northern tier of townships in the county. It is bounded on the north
by Shelby County, on the east by the townships of Spring Creek and Staunton,
on the south by Concord and Newton, and on the west by Newberry. The surface
is undulating in the eastern and southern portions but flat in the western
part. The soil is very fertile, especially in the bottoms adjoining the
river, and on the flat lands of the west, which are deeply covered with
a black vegetable mold, forming, when drained, an exceedingly productive
and durable farming land. The southern portion, in the vicinity of the
Miami, has fine quarries of an excellent quality of limestone, which is
extensively used throughout the northwest part of the State, and also in
the neighboring counties of Indiana.
The portion of this township around the old Indian town, known commonly
as Upper Piqua, was among the earliest settlements of the State, and hence
the Indian history, as well as that of the early white settlements, is
full of very interesting details which are rapidly passing away. The history
is very largely, indeed an un-written one, and as such, much of it has
perished with the actors and their immediate decendents, while the scanty
materials which remain are daily passing away, with the lives of those,
who, holding them only by oral tradition, have too frequently neglected
to put them in any durable shape. They are scattered over the country in
the memories of the few settlers of townships and neighborhoods who came
in, in the early days, and, they must be seperately and laboriously gathered
for some hand to unite, in time, into a more complete and continuous narrative.
Local history is not only interesting in itself, but is valuable as a
record of the past, which is the foundation of a present and future. Facts
connected with the early history of a village or township, often have an
imnportant bearing on events in which the whole county is concerned, and
through these, may reach even to a higher importance. To secure these passing
facts, which are being so rapidly lost beyond the possibility of recovery,
is the object of the present work.
Washington Township is particularly noted as one of the most celebrated
of the Indian locations in the Northwestern Territory. Here was the last
home of the red man in the county, and here were the earliest white settlements.
The Shawanese villages, known in early history of the West as the Twighteewee
Towns, celebrated in the early border warfare, and where prisoners were
generally brought when captured by these Indians, in their raids on the
white settlements in Kentucky and Western Virginia, were located about
two miles higher up the Miami River than the site of the present city of
Piqua at what is usually called Upper Piqua. It was here that Fort Piqua,
long a British post of some importance, was built. This fort was located
after the capture of Fort Du Quesne by the English, and formed one of the
most westerly of the British points of defense. It was afterward used
as a place of deposit for provisions and supplies for our armies when engaged
in Indian warfare in the West, and was especially serviceable to Gen.
Wayne when he marched through the county to chastise the Indians after
the unfortunate defeat of Gen. St. Claire at Fort Recovery in the present
county of Mercer. The last commander of this post was Capt. I.N. Vischer,
in 1794. After this time, it was almost entirely abandoned, and it was
finally dismantled and the materials removed.
The last battle of the French wars, and indeed the last encounter of
any importance between the French and English forces in North America,
was fought at Upper Piqua (as the fort and grounds in its vicinity have
come to be designated), on a part of the farm known as the Col. John Johnston
farm, just above the mouth of Swift Run, on the plat of ground lying to
the right of the St. Mary's turnpike, where it winds around the hill after
crossing the creek. From eight hundred to one thousand European troops
were engaged on each side with large bodies of Indians, the French being
aided by the Miamis, Wyandots and Ottawas, and the English by the Delaware,
Shawnees, Senecas and others. Col. John Johnston used frequently to relate
the fact that he had been told by the Indian chief Cornstalk, who remembered
well the scenes of the battle, though then only a boy, but present then
with his tribe, the Shawnees; it began, he said, at sunrise, on a warm
day in June, and continued until it became dark in the evening. The French
were finally defeated, and re-treated toward Detroit, or more probably
toward Vincennes, but never made a stand afterward in the county. Many
persons now living remember well that bullets and cannonballs, occasionally
a sword or bayonet, and sometimes the old and rusted barrel of a musket,
were plowed up in cultivating these grounds, for many years after they
were brought under the entire control of the white settler.
Upper Piqua was the headquarters of the Shawnees as long as they remained
in the Miami country, but was finally abandoned, when they went north to
Wapakoneta. Before their removal, however, to the West, beyond the Mississippi,
they came down in body to the old grounds, and remained several days in
the neighborhood of their former homes, and several members of the tribe
since their removal when visiting the East, have turned aside to look again
on the honored and well-remembered spot.
Piqua in the Shawnee tongue signifies "ashes," and the legend,
as related by the Indians, is, that long years before the white man came,
they burned a captured enemy on the site of their town, and when the body
was reduced to cinders, they saw suddenly the form of a man rising from
the funeral pile, and standing erect before them. Struck with astonishment
at the vision, they exclaimed, "Otatha-he- wagh-piqua," "He
has come out from the ashes"--and from that time the name of the town
was called "Piqua." The late George C. Johnston, Esq., who
was for many years a trader with the Shawnees, and was adopted into their
tribe and spoke their language perfectly, is the authority for this history.
The name thus continues to hand down to succeeding generations the language
and tradition of the red man, who is so rapidly disappearing from among
Washington Township was organized with its present limits in 1814, but
several years before that time a settlement and village were commenced
on the present site of Piqua. A mman named Joe Gard, who accompanied Wayne's
army to Greenville in the capacity of a sutler, returned after a time to
the old fort at Upper Piqua, and remained there until it was broken up
and the works destroyed. He then, having gathered up a portion of the wood
and irom used in its construction, removed with it lower down the river,
and located himself at what was then called, from the eastern detour
of the river, Piqua Bend. Here he built a cabin and made what was then
called an improvement, which usually meant clearing off a patch of ground
and surrounding it with a worm fence. This was about the year 1798.
Long before this, however, portions of the land in and about the bend were
cultivated by the Indians in corn, but no white man had yet made his home
on them. In 1799, John Manning bought the improvement of Gard and occupied
it for several years. It was located on what is now the east side of Harrison
Street, toward the south end of the street,and extended a short distance
down the hill, then much more considerable than it now appears, and stretched
along the river bank, on what is now Water Street. Settlers now began to
come in slowly, and, as a protection against the Indians, their cabins
were placed somewhat close together. It was not long before the families
began to desire something better than the hand-mill, usually operated by
a lever attached to a sweep. not much unlike the old well-sweeps which
can still occasionally be seen in the country. These hand-mills and the
primitive hominy mortars, made by hollowing out the log of a good sized
tree, were the main sources of supply of farinaceous food for the early
inhabitants of the West, but as numbers increased, all began to wish for
something better. Accordingly, about the spring of the year 1804, Manning
commenced the erection of a mill on the Miami, near the south end what
is now Harrison Street, and perhaps two hundred yards west of the present
steam flouring mill now standing on the south side of Water Street. This
was the first mill in this section of the country. John Manning and Matthew
Caldwell entered the land on which the town of Piqua stands, and also considerable
tracts in the immediate vicinity, and on the 29th day of June, 1807, Armstrong
Brandon began the work of laying out the town plat on their lands. Brandon
was subsquently connected with the original proprietors in the ownership
of the town plat. In this year Piqua consisted of seven houses, all built
of logs, and owned and occupied by John Manning, Edward Manning, Alexander
Ewing, Benjamin Leavell, Arthur Brandon, Nathaniel Whitcomb, and Joseph
Porquette. All these houses were built on that part of Water Street, in
the vicinity of the Lock Mill and the railroad. Ewing opened the first
tavern in a house standing on the west side of Main Street, below the railroad,
and very near the present location of Benkert's saddler shop. On the opposite
side of the street was the cabin of Joseph Proquette. At that time, there
was quite a broad strip of land between the east side of the street and
the river bank, since occupied by the canal, the railroad and the west
end of the river bridge. This was claimed by Porquette. Ewing was a trader,
and, in addition to his tavern had a few articles of traffic which he sometimes
exchanged with the Indians for skins and furs. As the village grew, the
consumption of liquor very naturally increased, and Porquette kept some
whiskey also on his side of the street, which was not a little frequented,
from the fact that the first blacksmith shop stood hard by, and hence it
happened that occasionally little disturbances arose in the vicinity, somewhat
to the disgust of the good and sober people in the other houses, and as
the numbers year by year increased, and these outbreaks became more marked
and frequent, Porquette's little piece of ground was at length called by
the distinctive appellation of the "Devil's Half-acre," that
it might be known that this was all the territory to which it was believed
His Satanic Majesty could rightfully lay claim within the limits of the
town. This name continued for many years, and it was only after the larger
portion of the ground was buried in the canal and the evil spirit probably
laid beneath its waters, that the name was lost, and is now only remembered
by a few of the old inhabitants.
There was no post office until 1811, when a weekly post-route was extended
from Dayton. Arthur Brandon was the first Postmaster, receiving his commission
from President Madison. He was succeeded after a few years by William Johnston.
The first Trustees elected after the organization of the township before
noticed in 1814, were John Widney, Benjamin Brandon and William Mitchell.
The latter, and his brother Robert, came from Tennessee several years before,
and were the first settlers in the township outside the boundries of the
village, The first Justice of the Peace in the township was Matthew Caldwell.
In those days there was little litigation; the early settlers lived quietly
and peacably, neighbors settled their small difficulties by the advice
and counsel of friends of the parties, and when more serious troubles occured,
which could not be adjusted in this way it was not unusual to decide the
matter by a physical encounter, in which the longest arms and the most
ponderous blows demonstrated the possessor of the most rightful acuse.
The village continued to increase, growing up with the influx of inhabitants
into the surrounding country. In 1820, there were about four hundred inhabitants,
and in 1830, nearly seven hundred. As early as 1823, an act of incorporation
was granted by the General Assembly of the State, in which it is stated
that "the householders in the town of Piqua, in the county of Miami,
having complied with the provisions of the act of the General Assembly,
entitled "An act to provide for the incorporation of towns,"
and having filed in the office of the Secretary of Statee, the documents
required by the above-recited act, etc." This act of incorporation
bears the date January 7, 1823, and has the signature of Jeremiah McLene,
then Secretary of State, and the grand seal of the State of Ohio affixed.
The town is therein described as "situate on the western bank of the
Great Miami River, and was originally laid out by John Manning and Matthew
Caldwell, and includes a part of fractional Sections 17 and 18, in Township
No. 6 east, First Meridian, comprising one hundred and one lots, and containing
in said original plat fifty-two acres, which said plat was recorded on
the records of the county of Miami on the 28th day of August, 1807, and
also an addition thereto called the North Addition, which was laid out
by Enos Manning and Charles Murray, which said last meantioned plat was
recorded in the Recorder's office of the county aforesaid on the 10th day
of July, 1816, and consists of fifty-three lots, being part of fractional
Section No. 17, Township No. 6 and Range No. 6 east, First Meridian. The
whole of said town as contained on and represented by said plats, is bounded
by the Great Miami River on the north, by the lands of Charles Murray and
Manning on the east, by the Great Miami River and lands of William Johnston
on the south, and by the lands of John Campbell, Matthew Caldwell and John
Kyte on the west, which said town was originally named and called Washington,
but was afterward, by an act of the Legislature of this State, changed
to Piqua, by which name it is now known and called."
The original of these "Letters of Incorporation," is now in
possession of Dr. Dorsey, and is preserved at the Citizens' National Bank,
In the winter of 1832-33, the General Assembly of Ohio passed an act
extending the Miami & Erie Canal, which already reached from Cincinnati
to Dayton, from the latter point to Piqua, a distance of thirty miles.
In the spring of 1834, the surveys having been made and the line generally
located, the letting of the various sections was advertised, and during
the summer the work was put under contract. An immediate impetus was given
to the growth of the village, which it was well understood would become
for a time the head of navigation, so soon as the canal should be completed.
Several hundred Irish and German laborers were soon at work in the town
and vicinity, north and south, for it was necessary to carry the canal
nearly four miles to the north of the town, to the State dam on the river,
where the supply of water was to be obtained. Contractors on the north
end of the line made their headquarters in Piqua. Bodies of engineers flocked
into the town, estimates were paid every sixty or ninety days, and the
population in a single year ran up to more then fifteen hundred. Business
of all kinds also increased very largely, and the little village of a few
years before, assumed all the appearances of a busy, growing and prosperous
town. In the summer of 1837 the work was completed, the water was turned
into its new channel, and the first canalboat, an old hulk which had been
brought up on wheels from Dayton, or somewhere in the vicinity, was floated
on the waters on the 4th of July of that year. The entire and successful
navigation of the canal was soon established. Freight boats and a line
of packets for travel were making regular trips. The town and the entire
neighboring country felt the effects of the large increase of business
and travel, and piqua, as the head of navigatinon on the canal, was the
most important town in Northwest Ohio. This continued for nearly seven
years before the canal was extended and completed through to the lake at
Toledo. During all these years, Piqua enjoyed the trade of all the northwest
of Ohio, and much of Eastern and Northeastern Indiana. The heavy goods
for all of this region of country were brought here by water, and conveyed
thence by wagons to their destined places of sale. A very large portion
of the products of all the same country poured in here also for shipment
on the canal. No railroads, as yet, traversed the land, and the Southern
market was still the point to which the produce of the Great West slowly
wended its way. Towns that have now grown to importance through the aid
of great railroad facilities, were then dependent on wagon transportation
for all their supplies, and Richmond, Fort Wayne, St. Mary's, Lima and
all their surroundings, naturally drew to Piqua as the nearest point where
the heavy and cumbrous carriage on very bad roads could be changed for
the easy and comparatively rapid transportation of the canal. In 1844,
when the canal was open to the lake for business, Piqua had already grown
to be a town of nearly five thousand inhabitants. Since that time the growth
has been less rapid, but it has still gone forward. Railroads have cut
much of the trade from the more distant towns, but the increased population
and wealth of the fertile Miami Valley, one of the best tracts of land
in the world, and teeming with everything that can conduce to the comfort
and happiness of men, have still enabled the young city to go forward in
its career of prosperity, with scarcely a step backward, save in those
seasons of commercial and financial depression which have been so severly
felt throughout our country.
At various times since the organization of the county, Piqua has desired
and has made vigorous attempts to secure the location of the county seat
in her corporate limits. Having been always much the largest and wealthest
town in the county, it was believed that the real interests of the county
would be subserved by the removal of the business of the whole county to
this place. And there is no doubt that at various times, could the voice
of the people have controlled the location of the seat of justice, its
place would have been at Piqua. But the completion of the county buildings
at Troy has, for a time at least, and perhaps forever, settled that much-vexed
question. For years past, Piqua has been turning her attention to the increase
of her manufactures as the surest means of securing an increase of population
and wealth. There are very few points in the State, where the efforts of
the people in this direction have been crowned with more complete success.
Her extensive and inexhaustable stone quarries supply her with the best
possible material for building; her railroads have opened the way for the
easy access of all the coal necessary for steam machinery, and iron is
also brought in abundance and at cheap rates. The river and canal afford
a good supply of water power; but, perfectly aware that yet more was necessary
to insure the necessary facilities for increased machinery, the people
in 1865 conceived the idea of constructing an hydraulic canal, which would
not only afford an ample supply of water for domestic purposes and for
the suppression of fires in every part of the town, but would also afford
a large amount of additional power for manufacturing purposes. This canal
is taken out from the Miami & Erie Canal, at Lockport, in Shelby County,
below the entrance of the Sidney feeder, and more that four miles to the
north of Piqua, brought across the Loramie River, and, passing along the
western border of the town, finds its was again to the canal at the south
end of the corporation. The fall from the point of exit at Lockport to
its entrance into the main canal at Piqua is fifty-two feet. The supply
of water is abundant; there are several small reservoirs on the line, and
one two miles above Piqua covering about sixty-five acres. These act as
important feeders, adding a valuable supply of water, in addition to that
derived from the State. There are already on the hydraulic, a large paper-mill,
one of the largest oil-mills in the State, and another paper-mill and straw-board
manufactory to be erected during the present year. The supply of water
for all domestic purposes is abundant, and is afforded at a very moderate
cost. Our citizens avail themselves freely of this luxury in the summer-time,
keeping their dooryards and pavements well sprinkled, as well as the streets
throughout the city, freeing us from the dust so prevalent in most of the
towns in the State. The pressure afforded by the fall alone is quite sufficient
to carry the water to all points and to the uppermost stories of the houses
for domestic purposes, and, in case of a fire, a telegraphic communication
is arranged from the City Hotel office to the waterhouse, at the west end
of North Street, when an additional pressure is put on, sufficient to carry
streams of water four inches in diameter to the roofs of the highest buildings.
The water-works are returning a good income to the city, and the cost of
running them does not exceed $150 per year.
The gas works of the city were erected in 1854, by R.T. Coverdale, Esq.
who took one-half the stock, the balance being taken by ten citizens of
the town. The works have been successful and renumerative. The original
stock was bought up by A.G. Conover and Joseph G. Young, and, on death
of these gentlemenm the stock of Mr. Conover was purchased by Mr. Spinning,
of Dayton, who, with the estate of J.G. Young, still carries on the works.
Many of the large houses and manufacturing establishments are lighted by
the gas machine, patented and manufactured by John Stafford, of this city,
which is highly successful, and its claimed to furnish a cheaper light
than is afforded by the gas company.
The streets of the city, though unfortunately rather narrow, have been
carefully improved, a good system of sewerage has been gradually introduced,
and few cities of the second class in the State can boast of cleaner or
smoother streets for driving. The paving of the sidewalks is, in many places,
very rough, having been laid down at an early day with small irregular
surface flagging, serving only the purpose of lifting the passengers from
the mud, but being by no means agreeable for walking, but on Main Street
this has been almost wholly replaced by smooth and well-jointed paving-stones,
taken from the neighboring quarries, and the same improvement is being
gradually carries out on the other streets.
Piqua is well supplied with railroads. The great east-and-west road,
the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway, passes directly thru
the town, making travel in both these directions exceedingly convenient.
New York, Washington and the Eastern cities are reached in twenty-four
hours time, without change of cars, while Chicago and St. Louis are brought
within a few hours travel, and all Western cities are readily reached.
The Dayton & Michigan road crosses the Pittsburg, Cincinnati &
St. Louis railway, just on the eastern side of town, and furnishes easy
communication to the north and south. Our people go to Cincinnati in less
than four hours, allowing sufficient time for attending to business and
returning the same day. These means of carriage, together with the Miami
& Erie Canal, give great facilities for the transportation of all the
products of the country, hence Piqua is the center of a very large grain
trade. Stone and lime are carried very extensively in all directions.
The inhabitants of Piqua have never ceased to value the great advantages
of canal transportation. They have ever regarded the Miami & Erie Canal
as one important source of their wealth and prosperity; and, while in many
parts of the State a willingness and even an anxiety has been manifested
to abandon our canals, the people of Piqua, in common with nearly all the
inhabitants living in the vicinity of this important line, have stood up
bravely and faith-fully, for the maintenance of these important works.
We are glad to see that this sentiment is beginning again to be strong
and popular in the State. For years, the people on this line have been
obliged to resist attempts at hostile legislation in the General Assembly,
but they have always been found at the post of duty, and are now beginning
to see evident effects of their long and contin- uous struggles. The Miami
& Erie Canal Association has been very largely instrumental in producing
this change of feeling in the people. Their careful and steady opposition
to all measures tending to injury of our canals, and the publications which
they have laid year by year before the members of the Legislature, and
distributed the State, have awakened the people to the importance of caring
for these works and preserving them for the benefit of all the inhabit-
ants. These works have long since paid the State for their construction.
They have increased its wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars, and
under proper management, will always not only keep up all their own expenses,
but will also pay no inconsiderable revenue into the State Treasury. The
officers of the Miami & Erie Canal Association are G. Volney Dorsey,
of Piqua, President; Emanual Schultz, of Miamisburg, Vice President; J.C.
Richardson, of Glendale, Secretary; and Thomas Fox, of Lockland, Treasurer.
The Executive Committee, G.V. Dorsey, Piqua; C.H. Wardlaw, Middletown;
W.P. Huffman, Dayton; Henry Pearce, Cincinnati; Philip H. Herzing, St.
Mary's; Richard Slawson, Piqua.
The Legislative Committee, Stephen Johnston, W.J. Jackson and J.F. McKinney,
whose duty require them to meet the unfriendly legislation by statistics
and agreements presented by the Standing Committees on Public Work in the
Legislature of Ohio, which duties have been dis-charged by them with ability
and success, defeating all attempts to cripple or injure the canals of
the State by legislation.
From the date of incorporation among the towns of the State, in 1823,
up to 1850, Piqua was governed under the act of the General Assembly regulating
such corporations, but, on the 19th of March, in the year 1850, it was
incorporated as a city of the second class, and Stephen Johnston, Esq.,
was elected Mayor. The first City Counsil convened April 9, 1850, and the
members were Patrick Scully, James Noland, Rankin Walkup and Henry Rouser.
The first City Marshal was Samuel B. Garvey. The same number of wards has
been continued up to the present time, with only slight changes in their
several boundries. Two members of Counsil are now elected from each ward.
The present Mayor is George Dettmer, Esq.; City Marshal, John Frantz; City
Clerk, James Hatch; City Solicitor, W.D. Jones, Esq.; President of Council,
Henry Flesh, Esq. Members: First Ward, H. Flesh, W.H. Harbaugh; Second
Ward, Amos Abele, John F. Hemsteger; Third Ward, G.N. Ziegenfelder, William
McWilliams; Fourth Ward, William P. Orr, Howard Scudder. Street Commissioner,
The earliest settlers, coming as they did from Pennsylvania or from
some of the Southern or Slave States, knew nothing of the common-school
system. However, they were generally persons of a moderate degree of culture,
and, in a few instances, very well educated. As soon as the most pressing
wants of providing for actual subsistence and shelter were properly attended
to, they began to realize the importance of looking after the training
and education of the younger members of their families. The first schoolhouse
was built in 1809, outside of the then limits of the town and near the
present corner of Main and Young Streets, and the first teacher was Isaac
Hendershott. The early appliances for the accomodation of scholars were
of the rudest and most economical description; benches of plank or puncheons-
that is, broad slabs split or hewn from the trunk of a tree served for seats;
they were without backs, supported on four clumsily formed legs, let into
the seat by holes bored with an auger, and so high that the feet of the
smaller scholars generally hung dangling little more than half way to the
floor. The writing tables used by the larger and more advanced pupils were
planks also, fastened with wooden hinges to the log walls, enabling them
to be let down when not in actual use. These composed the entire school
furniture, but the instruction was substantial, and good men and women
came forth from these early centers of learning prepared to do their duty
bravely and well in the great battle of life.
It was not until 1818 that a brick building of small size was erected
on the public square, dignified with the more pretentious name of a seminary,
and where more through and systematic instruction was given. The first
instructor was Rev.John Finley. The same building was frequently used for
church purposes by various denominations of Christians, particularly by
the Methodists who had yet no church building of their own, and men of
note and ability, such as William Raper, James and John Finley, and Henry
T. Bascom, afterward President of Augusta College, Kentucky, and one of
the greatest pulpit orators of the West, gave there earnest and pure religious
discourses to enlighten and guide these early pioneers.
No system of common public schools was organized until about 1850, when
a Board of Education was elected, under what was then called the Massillon
law of the State. Three district schoolhouses were erected, one for the
north, one for the west and one for the south portion of the town, and
a regular system of schools was commenced. These house were small size,
having a single room below and above, with a small hall or entry attached
to each; they were deemed, however, sufficient for the wants of the time,
and served a good purpose for several years; they have now all disappeared,
and are remembered only among the things of the past, and their places
are supplied by the excellent and really elegant buildings of the ward
schoolhouses, which, particularly in the north and south districts, are
an honor and ornament to the town. In 1854, after much discussion and no
inconsiderable opposition among the citizens, it was determined to erect
a high-school building, and introduce a regular system of graded schools.
The committee appointed from the Board of Education to select a site for
the house and to superintend its erection, consisted of G. Volney Dorsey,
President, and William Scott, Treasurer, of the Board. After careful examination,
two acres of ground were purchased, in the western part of the town, from
Matthew Caldwell, Esq., and the present high school was built. The plan
of construction, so far as regards the internal arrangements, was modeled
on the comparison of what were then the three best school buildings in
the State--those of Massillon, Columbus and Lebanon--and the building,
when completed, was considered one of the very best at that time in the
State. Many far superior have since been erected, but, at that time, the
Piqua High School was considered unequaled in excellence of its arragnments
for the accommodation of both teachers and scholars. The first teacher
and Superintendent, Mr. A.G. Chambers, of Miami University, to whose judgment,
activity and energy in organizing and putting the schools in operation,
is due much of the success which has since attended them. The present Superintendent,
Mr. C.W. Bennett, of the Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware, has been
for several years at the head of the schools, and is known throughout the
State as an able and successful educator. He is supported by a very able
corps of assistants, among whom should be mentioned Miss Mary Hall, Principal
of the Female Department, and Mr. C.F. Wilder, at the head of the Grammar
School. The Board of Education consists of G. Volney Dorsey, President;
F. Hardy, Secretary; and Messrs. John D. Shannon, J.F. Hummel, Jennison
Hall and Simon Anderson. The School Examiners for the city are Rev. Lyman
Fisher, C.W. Bennett and G. Volney Dorsey. Great care has been taken to
employ only thoroughly competent teachers. The course of instruction is
through, and by no better scholars are made at any of the high schools
of the State than are graduated at Piqua.
Much of the marked success of our public schools, is to be attributed
to the fact that the citizens of the town have always manifested great
interest in their welfare. The school examinations and exhibitions, the
graduating exercises, and the literary entertainments of the societies
connected with the schools, have been liberally patronized by the best
citizens and ladies of the town, and every encouragment has been extended
to students to endeavor to reach a high standard of excellence. The course
of study in the high school embraces, in addition to the English branches,
Latin and German, and a scientific course is also given for those desiring
to graduate without entering classical studies. This course is quite largely
patronized by young men from the surrounding country, and from many of
the neighboring towns. Drawing is taught by a competent instructor and
many of the pupils have made commendable progress, and give decided indications
of possessing artistic talent. It is also intended to introduce music as
part of the regular course.
Piqua has long been noted for the number and excellence of its churches.
Very few places of the same size present so many attracttions to those
wishing to locate in a thoroughly moral and church-going community. The
denomination which was the first to occupy the field by the erection of
a place of worship, was the United Presbyterians, who as early as 1816,
built a log church in the south part of the town. Prior to this time, religious
services had been held in the houses erected for schools, sometimes in
the homes of the early settlers, and not unfrequently in the open air,
under the spreading branches of the leafy groves, which were "God's
first Temples." The first minister appointed to this church was Rev.
Dyer Burgess, a gentleman of decided talent, though somewhat eccentric
in manners. He succeeded in laying the foundations of a flourishing congregation,
which still continues to occupy a leading and influential position among
the religious divisions of the city. This house, which occupied the lot
on the southeast corner of Downing and Sycamore Streets, was replaced in
1837, by a neat brick building erected under the ministry of Rev. James
Porter, of Miami University, who filled the pulpit for several years with
acceptance and ability. Another larger building has since been erected
on Downing Street, between Green and Ash Streets, and the pulpit is now
occupied by Rev. John H. Brown. The families of the Campbells, Wileys,
Pattersons. Gillespies and Sawyers, are among the oldest and most widely
extended of the membership of this church.
The Methodists firsts occupied the seminary in the public sqare as a
place of worship, but in 1825, they built a small brick church on Spring
Street, between Ash and High Streets, on ground now lying on the east side
of the canal. Here they continued to worship until 1836, when a larger
building was erected at the southeast corner of Wayne and Green Streets,
now known as the Green Street Church. Under the pastoral care of Rev. Granville
Moody, this building was entirely remodeled, and so much improved as to
become one of the finest churches in the county, occupied by a very large
and wealthy congregation, embracing many of the leading citizens of the
town. A very large and flourishing Sunday schhol is connected with the
church, conducted in such manner as to render it both attractive and instructive;
the music is very fine, both vocal and instrumental, and a large number
of young persons are to be found who date their earliest religious impressions
from the lessons here given, and still find their moral sentiments strengthened
by the exercises in which they are every week engaged. The present minister
is Rev. Mr. Cassatt; the Superintendent of the Sunday school, Mr. Joshua
W. Shipley. The church has an excellent organ, and a large and well-instructed
choir of singers. To the energy and ability of Mr. Ship-ley much of the
excellence of the music as well as the success of the Sunday school is
Another flourishing Methodist Church is situated on Water Street, between
Coldwater and Downing Streets, known as Grace Church. Rev. James Stevenson
is the present minister in charge. This congregation an offshoot of the
Green Street Church, located themselves first on Wayne Street, south of
the railroad, in the house now occupied by the German Reformed Church;
but, finding their numbers rapidly increasing, they determined to remove
to what was deemed a better location, and chose their present site, as
being more in the center of population in the city. They have a very handsome
building, a good Sunday School and an active working congregation. Many
of the oldest citizens of Piqua are active members of the Methodist Church,
among whom may be named J.M. Chevers, Henry Kitchen, Samuel Petit, William
H. Crosier and Stephen Widney; while among those who have resided a less
number of years in the city, but are known as prominent members, may be
mentioned the families of the Shipleys, Dr. C.S. Parker, the Bowdies, Bennetts,
Zollingers, Crons, Rhodehamels, Woods, Halls, etc.
The Old School Presbyterians had their first church on Wayne Street, south
of Sycamore, on what is now called the old cemetery lot, a brick building
erected in 1830. Rev. James Coe was the first minister, a man still deservedly
held in high esteem by many of the old members of the congregartion. Under
the pastorate of Rev. John A. Meeks, the present church was built, on the
southeast corner of Wayne and Ash Streets, about the year 1844. It has
undergone many excellent improvements, and is now one of the best church
buildings in the city, a flourishing Sunday school and a numerous and zealous
congregation give a foundation rendering this one of the strongest denominations
in the county. It is commonly known as the First Presbyterian.
The Second Presbyterian Church, under the name of the New School Presbyterian,
was erected a few years later, also on Wayne Street, between Green and
Ash. The first minister was Rev. Mr. Graves, who was succeeded by several
excellent and able men, and the congregation was, for many years, large
and flourishing; but in the union of these two divisions of the Presbyterian
body in 1876, this congregation, under their own Pastor, Rev. J. Thompson,
passed into the "Old School, and united their strength, under his
leadership, with their brethren of this church. Mr. Thompson still continues
as the minister of the united church, and is considered an able and acceptable
Pastor. This union contributed much to the strngth of the church, which
stands among the first in the city in every good work. Among the earliest
members of this church, and those who did much in forming its character
and placing it on a stable foundation, were the Elliotts, Adamses, Meekers,
Statlers, Youngs, McKees, Mortons, Sages, Mitchells and Laymans. Some of
these families have almost or quite passed away; in some, the younger branches
are found commected with other churches, but the work laid out by their
fathers still remains firm and steadfast.
The Baptists erected their first church in 1830, on Ash Steet, between
Spring and Harrison, where they continued to worship until 1848, when they
erected their present house on High Street, near Wayne. Many able men have
occupied their pulpit, among whom may be mentioned Revs. John L. Moore,
John E. Thomas and David E. Thomas, Mr. Osborne, Dr. Shephardson, and the
present excellent minister, Rev. Lyman Fisher. A few years ago, a portion
of the congregation seperated from the old church, and erected a new and
handsome building on Ash Street, west of Broadway, where they have since
continued to worship, sometimes employing a minister regularly, and at
other times dependant on supplies obtained from neighboring churches. They
have, therefore, now two good houses of worship; but the congregation,
in their divided state, being weak, it would seem, would do well to imitate
their Presbyterian brethren and unite their strength in one fold and under
one pastor. The leading families among the old members and founders of
this church are the Hilliards, Mannings, Blues, McCampbells, Garveys, Drakes
St. James Parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church was organized about
the year 1820, under the supervision of Rev. E. Johnson, of Cincinnati,
who, in connection with Rev. Mr. Allen, of Dayton, held services whenever
they were able to attend the wants of the congregation. Col. John Johnston,
of Upper Piqua, who was an active member of the church, was appointed a
lay reader, and frequently served the parish in this capacity when the
services of a regular minister could not be obtained. The first building
for worship was erected on the corner of North and Spring Streets, a small
but handsome brick church, built in 1825, well finished, and supplied with
a bell donated by friends of the church in Ireland. The lot was given by
a Mr. Murray, a member of the Roman Catholic Church and an Irishman. It
was to be held by the parish so long as it was occupied by a church, but
failing to be so used, was to revert to him or his heirs. This took place
when the present church was erected on Wayne Street, near High. The first
Rector regularly installed over the parish was Rev. Alvah Guyon, who enteres
on his charge in 1830 and continued until 1842. Several excellent and able
men have officiated in the rectorship of this church, among whom were Rev.
Richard S. Killen, Rev. Chauncey Fitch, D. D., Rev. Henry Payne, Rev. Wyllys
Hall and Rev. Henry Badger. The present Rector is Rev. J.H. Benton. The
parish owns a neat parsonage immediately south of the church edifice. Among
the old families of the church, we find the very widely extended name of
the Johnstons, embracing no less than six distinct tough relate families,
the Greenhams, McCorkles, Judge M. G. Mitchell, the Morrows, Scott, Chapeze,
Adams, O'Ferrall, and others among the most prominent and active of the
The German Lutherans have a large and very handsome church building
on the corner Green and Downing Streets. They form a large, intelligent,
and wealthy congregationm have a good Sunday school, show the German devotion
to music by the fine organ in their church, and their love of Fatherland
by having services entirely in their native tongue.
The United Brethren have a small church on Broadway, near High Street,
with an active and faithful congregation.
The German Episcopal Methodists have also a small frame chusrch at south
end of Wayne Street, and maintain a thorough organization.
The Roman Catholic Church erected their first church in Piqua, St. Mary's
Church, about 1840, on the southwest corner of Broadway and North Streets,
a very handsome and well-finished building, with a good parsonage attached;
and immediately opposite, on the east side of Broadway, this church has
an excellent sschool, conducted by the Sisters of Charity, who are known
as very efficient teachers. This is now known as the Irish Church, while
the German Catholics have a large and fine church, St. Bonifacius, erected
in 1864, on Downing Street, south of the railroad, together with an excellent
house, formerly occupied by the Brothers of the church, but now used as
a parsonage. A schoolhouse and Sisters' house, on Adams Street, a short
distance west of the church, belong also to the German church, which has
a large and wealthy congregation.
The present Pastor of the Irish Church, or St. Mary's is Father Henry;
the Pastors of St. Bonifacius are Father Fischer and Father Weiderhalt.
The Jews have a congregation also, which. though not numerous, is composed
of some of the best and most active business men of the city. They have
a room used as a synagogue in the building of Mr. Aaron Friedlich, on the
northwest corner of the public square on Main Street.
The "Piqua Female Bible Society" was organized in 1817, under
the of several excellent and benevolent ladies connected with the various
churches of the town. It is one of the oldest of the auxiliaries of the
American Bible Society, which came into existence only one year previous
to its formation in 1816. The first President was Mrs. Rachel Johnston,
and among the early members we recognize the names of Mrs. McLean, Mrs.
McCorkle, Mrs. Morrow, Mrs. Widney, Mrs. Campbell, and others of the oldest
settlers of the town and township. Mrs. Johnston continued to officiate
until her death, in 1840, when Mrs. Eliza Petit, the present President,
was chosen her successor, who for forty years, has faithfully attended
to all the duties of her office, and has kept the society active in the
prosecution of its great and glorious work.
The Masonic Order has very fine rooms in the third story of the large
building on the southwest corner of the public square. The order was early
introduced into the town, while yet only a small village, and Warren Lodge
was established about 1835. Ward Lodge was established several years later;
both occupied the same hall for many years, and have finally united as
one body. A large and elegant Chapter is also in the same building.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows has two large and well attended
lodges, and, as a beneficiary institution, exerts a widely exteneded influence
for good. Their hall is in the upper story of the town house, in the public
square. There are also several other orders or societies actively engaged
in benevolent work in the city--the Very Ancient Order of Druids, The Benevelent
Order of St. Patrick, connected with the Roman Catholic Church, and also
the Order of the Royal Arcanum which meets in the Odd Fellows' Hall.
The Young Men's Christian Association has been organized for several
years. They have excellent rooms in the basement of the opera house building--a
reading room and library, and an active membership exerting a very decided
influence for good among the young men of the city. The reading room is
open every day, and also in the evening, is well supplied with newspapers
and periodicals, and affords a most excellent place to resort to those
who desire to spend an hour in reading or examining books or papers.
The first paper published in Miami County was issued at Piqua, July
6, 1820, under the name of the Piqua Gazette. The publisher, being printer
and editor, was William R. Barrington, of Philadelphia, a gentleman of
culture and a very able and foricle writer. Mr Barrington continued the
publication until 1837, when the paper was sold to Jeremiah A. Dooley,
and the name was changed to the " Intelligencer". It afterward
passed through several hands, and was for a time very ably conducted by
John W. Defrees, Esq., now the editor of the "Miami Union", at
Troy; it was sold by him to Messrs. Writer and Brading, the former of whom
became afterward sole proprietor. On the breaking-out of the rebellion,
Col. Writer went into the Army and served reputably during the war, but
the paper, being left without any responsible head, in a short time ceased
to be published. The paper, when started by Barrington, was the advocate
of the principles of the old Whig party, and under Mr. Defrees, passed
to the Republican party, and continued to support the cause during the
remainder of its existence.
No Democratic paper was published until 1847, when a party of gentlemen,
of that party, formed a stock company, purchased a press and materials
for an office, and employed D.M. Fleming, Esq., one of the stockholders,
as editor. The paper was issued under the name of "Piqua Enquirer".
The stock was afterward purchased by Mr. Fleming, under agreement with
the company, and the paper has since been under his control. In the autumn
of 1860, Mr. Fleming left the Democratic party, changed the name of his
paper to the "Piqua Journal", which it still bears, and became
an earnest advocate of the doctrines of the Republicans. In this faith
the paper became steadfast, except for a short time, when the devotion
of the editor led him to the support of Andrew Johnson, then President
of the United States. This was, however, only temporary, and it has continued
since entirely firm in its adherence to the Republican Party.
The "Miami County Democrat",. was first published by Messr.
Horton & Teverbaugh, in 1860; but both these gentlemen entering the
service of the country, on the breaking-out of the war, the paper was for
a time discontinued, but was revived after the cessation of hostilities,
under the editorial management of the Messrs. Smiley, who still continue
to conduct it as an active and unswerving supporter of the doctrines of
the present Democratic Party.
The "Miami Helmet" was commenced in 1874, by the Miami Publishing
Co., and placed under the editorial management of I.S. Morris, Esq. It
is devoted primarily to the support of the temperance cause, and has labored
zealously and successfully in this field. It has not, however, been an
extremist in the support of the political party known as the Temperance
or Prohibition party, but has been always willing to throw its strngth
to the aid of good and honest and temperate men, men who stand by the cause
of the country, of morality and of re-ligion. The Miami Publishing Co.
has a fine office, a good steam printing press, and under the direction
of Mr. M. Rouzer, is rapidly becoming one of the most flourishing corporations
of the city. The President is Mr. S. McWilliams; Secretary and Treasurer,
Mr. Lewis Leonard.
There are two National banks in the city. The Piqua National is the
successor of the Piqua Branch of the State Bank of Ohio, which was organized
in 1847, with a capital of $100,000. President, William Scott (died: 1
June 1880, his son, John M. Scott, is now President) Cashier, Joseph G.
Young; Teller, Henry Greenham. In 1865. this was changed to a national
bank, and the same officers were continued. On the death of J.G. Young,
in 1875, Henry Greenham was appointed Cashier, and continued until his
death, in 1877. The capital in-creased to $200,000, when it was organized
as a national bank. The present officers are President, William Scott;
Cashier, Clarence Langdon; Assistant Cashier, John H. Patterson; Teller,
The Citizen's National was organized in 1866, by William and M.N. Megrue,
the former being President, and the latter Cashier, with a capital of $100,000.
In 1867, it was bought from these gentlemen, by G. Volney Dorsey and Robert
B. Moores, the former becoming Pres- ident, and the latter Cashier. The
present officers are President, G. Volney Dorsey; Vice President, M. Friedlich;
Cashier, Henry Flesh; Teller, Walker McC.Dorsey. In 1879, the capital stock
was reduced to $60,000.
Though Piqua stands to-day among the best manufacturing towns in the
State, yet the commencement in this line was very feeble and progressed
slowly. We have already mentioned the erection of the first mill. Benjamin
Leavell, who came to the village in 1805, was the first carpenter and millwright
who opened business regularly. One of the earliest, if not the first blacksmith,
was Joseph Defrees, and Nathaniel Whitcomb opened the first shop for making
shoes. The earliest cooper's shop was by a Frenchman named Porquette, on
the bank of the river nearly opposite Ewing's tavern, where Porquette kept
also a small drinking house, and close by stood the blacksmith shop. The
commencement of the linseed oil manufacture, which now forms so important
a part in the wealth and activity of the city, was made by John McCorkle
in 1824. He built a small oil-mill on the Miami River, on the west bank,
just opposite to what is now Patter-son's mill, half a mile south of the
town. The mill was run by water, and the machinery used in crushing the
seed and pressing out the oil was of the most primitive description. The
crusher was an immense block of limestone perfectly circular, about fifteen
inches thick and five feet in diameter, this large stone was placed on
its edge in a circular trough, formed of strong oak plank fitted closely
and capable of holding any liquid put in it. Into this trough a certain
quantity of flax-seed was poured by hand, and the large stone revolved
in the trough by means of a large wooden lever passing through the center
and attached to the horizontal shaft of the water-wheel. When the seed
was sufficiently crushed, it was taken out and put in strong lined bags
and subjected to the action of a screw press, similar to that frequently
used at present in the manufacture of cider. The oil was probably not
very throughly extracted, and the oil-cake, though no doubt richer in nutricious
matter than that now coming from the powerful hydraulic press, was of little
value, as a very limited demand was found for it.
The earliest cabinet-maker was Joseph Bennett, who, for many years,
had his shop and residence on the northeast corner of Main and Green Streets.
Bennett was a good workman, an excellent citizen and a man of some enterprise;
He gradually enlarged his business with the growth of the village, and
was at length a considerable manufacturer. Specimans of his handiwork are
still found in several of the houses belonging to the old inhabitants.
The first chair-maker was James Hughes, who manufactured the old-fashioned
solid wood-bottomed chair and the split-bottom, formed from splints of
the white ash. Hughes also manufactured spinning-wheels, at that time an
important article in every family. The small wheel was used in spinning
tow and flax, was turned by treadle or foot-piece attached to the crank
passing through the center of the wheel, by strong string, sometimes of
cord more frequently of leather or raw-hide; the flax start was wound on
a distaff inserted into what was called the arm of the wheel. The female
operator sat on a chair while spinning. But the large wheel, the glory
of the young and active girls, was used by the operator standing, who put
the wheel in active motion by means of a short stick or roller, the rapid
motion of the wheel turned the spindle still more rapidly, and to this
the maiden attached the end of the long woolen roll, brought, from the
carding-mill, or formed more slowly at home with the hand cards, and, having
secured the hold of the roll to the spindle, she walked rapidly backward
twenty or thirty paces, drawing out a lengthened thread of the woolen yarn,
which. when sufficiently twisted, she allowed to be more slowly rolled
on to the spindle. This was continued by successive whirls of the wheel,
until the spool was filled, when it was taken from the wheel head and replaced
by a new one.
In the early settlement of the country, it was not at all uncommon for
the young girls of eighteen or twenty summers to take their wheels on their
shoulders, and, carring in their hands a sufficient supply of wool or flax,
to assemble at a neighbor's house, and in a long porch with ground or puncheon
floor, or even, in pleasant weather, in the open dooryard, the wheels were
set down and the spinning began, each striving to excel the others in dextedrity,
in rapidity, and exxcellence of the thread produced, and thus the day
was passed in work and friendly gossip, and when evening came, the lads
gathering in from the neighboring fields, the dance began to the music
of the violin, which, with some sufficiently artistic performer, was sure
to be found in every settlement.
Covering for the head was necessary as well as for the feet, and hence
the hatter-shop was an important part of the manufacturing business of
every new town in the West. The earliest hatters were John Brown and Lewis
Webb. Hats were made of wool or fur of the raccoon or opossum, muskrat
or, more rarely, of the beaver. Men and boys went to the shop and left
their measure for a hat of whatever description wanted, the proper block
was selected, and in due time the proper article appeared. A hat that would
not last at least five years was a bad production, and by care, and keeping
an old one to wear in bad weather, the Sunday hat was often made to do
duty for double that period of time.
Few towns in the State of the size of Piqua can now boast of better
and more flourishing manufacturing establishments. The first improvement
on the canal was made by using the power from the lock at the south end
of Main Street in 1839, where the flour-mill was erected by Mr. Beall,
of the city of Baltimore. The mill was small but was sufficient for the
demands of business for a short time, but in a few years a much larger
establishment was demanded, which was built by Messrs. Young & Yager.
These buildings were of frame, but in 1872, a fine brick mill was erected
by O'Ferrall & Daniels; this burned in 1879, and the present very large
and excellent mill was erected by Conrad Amendt, which is in every respect
a model establishment, and does work not inferior to any mill in the county.
On the same water-power is located the extensive woolen-mill of F. Gray
& Co., one of the finest factories in Western Ohio. Originally started
as a woolen-mill for the manufacture of cloths, blankets, fine flannels,
etc.; the enterprising proprietors about four years ago turned their attention
to the manufacture of papermaker's endless felts, which are prodused by
no more than five establishments in the United States, most of the paper-mills
both East and West formerly importing their felts from England. By skill
and perseverence, however, Messrs. Gray & Co. have devleoped an immense
trade in this line, their felts are now recognised as not in any respect
inferior to the best English productions and are in use throughout the
United States from Maine to Georgia, and from New York to California; they
are sent even to South America, to Germany and to Japan. Connected with
this mill are also extensive knitting works for the production of yarn
The machine-shops of John O'Ferrall & Co. are situated on the west
end of Water Street, near the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis railway.
They manufacture thrashers and seperators, sugar-mills, corn-drills, hay-rakes,
tile machines, etc. An iron Foundry is connected with the establishment,
which is doing a large and flourishing business. THeir machines are extensively
sold through the West, and their threshers are considered among the best
in the market. In the corporation, are also two of the largest linseed
oil mills in the State. That of Wood, Farrington & Co., stands near
the west end of Water Street, on the hydraulic canal, just beyond the point
where the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis railway crosses what
was formerly the old Covington road. The capacity of this mill has been
doubled in the last two years. They now crush 500 bushels of flax-seed
daily, and manufactures from four to five thousand barrels of linseed oil
per year. The mill is run principally by the water-power furnished by the
hydraulic, but can also be run by steam if there is a deficiency in the
supply of water. A side track connects the mill with the railroad and cars
are loaded and unloaded directly from the doors of the mill. All the modern
improvements in crushing and the best hydraulic presses for pressing out
the oil are in use at this establishment. The Mill of Orr, Leonard &
Daniels is also a very extensive and elegant work, situated at the south
end of Main Street, directly on the railroad, built with all the modern
improvemnts and employing the best machinery, operated entirely by steam.
This mill was erected in 1879, but is already doing a very heavy business.
It will probably, be en-larged during the present year, rendering it the
largest oil-mill in the State. The older members of this firm have also
a very fine oil-mill two and a half miles below town, on the Mimai River,
where they have carried on an extensive business for many years. In the
mill in townm this firm crushes from 450 to 500 bushels of seed per day,
making 700 to 800 gallons of oil; and in the mill below town, about 400
bushels of seed are crushed, yielding about 600 gallons of oil. If to this
we add the product of the Wood & Farrington mill, using, as above stated,
not less than about 400 bushels of seed per day, and yielding 600 gallons
of oil, we have from these three large mills a consumption daily of 1,200
bushels of seed, and a yield of from 1,800 to 2,000 gallons of oil. It
is safe to say that no city outside of Chicago in the Western country is
so largely engaged in the manufacture of oil as Piqua, all brought about
by the activity and business energy of a few men.
This important industry is contributing very largely to the business
of the city. Each of these mills, that of Wood, Farrington & Co., and
also of Orr, Leonard & Daniels, purchase seed at various points through
Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, to the amount of more than $100,000 per annum,
which is manufactured at their establishments, and the oil and oil-cake
are shipped to various parts of the Unites States and Europe.
The extensive furniture factory of Messrs. L.C. & W.L. Cron, is
one of the most important industires of the city. This establishment, which
has been in successful operation for about ten years now employs nearly
one hundred hands; their factory is situated across the bridge, at the
lower end of Main Street, on that part of the street leading to the Dayton
& Michigan Railroad depot, where they already have very extensive buildings,
but are this year erecting another very large brick factory, in order to
accommodate their continually increasing business. Here is also their
finishing-room, which. in extent and completeness, will compare favorably
with any like establishment in the State. Their extensive show-room is
on Main Street, nearly opposite the City Hotel, where may at all times
be found very large quanities of finely finished furniture. This firm sends
also large quanities of furniture, in the rough or unfinished state, to
the Eastern cities.
The furniture factory of Aug. Fritsch & Son is also desrving of
notice. The house has a reputation for the manufacture of excellent and
beautiful furniture, and they have a well-filled show-room on Main Street,
between Ash and Green.
Caspar Brandel, at the south end of Main Street, is also an enterprising
manufacturer, and had for many years done a large business.
The handle factory of Gray & Murray, at the north end of Wayne St.,
is a new establishment, recently commencing business, but already employing
a large number of hands, and using up every day eight to twelve cords of
ash wood, in making spade, hoe and fork handles, which are immediately
shipped to various points in the East and West. During the present year,
these gentlemen expect to add to their works machinery for the manufacture
of ax-handles, and short handles for hammers, etc., which will also consume
a large amount of hickory timber.
At the north end of Downing Street, and in the immediate vicinity of
the last-named works, is found the foundry and machine shops of Messrs.
Bowdle Bros. These enterprising gentlemen, who have been long established
in the same locality, manufacture steam engines of various patterns, as
well as making castings for many kinds of machinery, and are noted throughout
this section of the country for their excellent work.
Three exrensive carriage and buggy factories are also located here.
The largest is that of J.P. Spiker, on Wayne, near High Stret, which employs
about forty hands, and turns out a large amount of very fine work. Mr.
Spiker is now merging his factory in a large stock company, known as the
Spiker Wagon Works. This company is incorporated by the State, with capital
of $40,000, and has purchased extensive grounds on the west end of High
Street, extending north two squares to Green Street, and embracing seven
acres, on which they are erecting buildings for their works, and to which
the Wayne Street Works will be ultimately removed. This bids fair, from
the well-known character of the gentlemen engaged in it, to become one
of the most important industries of the city.
The carriage factory of Curtis & Reed, on Water Street, near Wayne,
is also a flourishing establishment, and is rapidly growing in favor of
The factory of W.R. Crosier & Son, the oldest in the city, is located
on Downing Street, between North and Green, and has for many years, done
a large and lucrative business. These three establishments all manufacture
the finest carriages and buggies, which have repeatedly taken prizes at
the fairs in our own and many of the adjoining count-ies. The Spiker Company
will continue the manufacture of carriages and buggies, but will add to
this the making of road wagons of superior quality, somewhat after the
style of the celebrated Studebaker wagon, so largely manufactured at South
Bend, in Indiana. There are already in the city several establishments
manufacturing large wagons on a limited scale, but doing a very good business,
among those which may be named the works of John Reedy, William Keese and
One paper-mill is already in operation on the hydraulic, at the west
end of North Street. This establishment, belonging to the heirs of Loomis,
does a good business in the manufacture of coarse wrappping paper, and
consumes a large amount of straw for this purpose. Another mill, on the
south end of the hydraulic, near the Rocky Branch, is now being erected
by the joint-stock company, the leading men being Messrs. Jarvis, Orr,
Leonard, Ziegenfelder and Clark. These enterprising gentlemen will invest
a large amount of capital, in this work, which, it is understood, will
be devoted to the manufacture, principally, if not entirely, of what is
known as straw board. A large number of hands will be employed here.
Three large breweries are carried on in the city. That of J.L. Schneyer,
at the south end of Spring Street, is a model of completeness and excellence
in the way of manufacturing beer. The malting-room, cooling-room, ice house,
and every department connected with the business are most completely furnished,
and the product of the establishment is said to be of superior quality.
The building is about 60X80 feet, three stories in height, and is pronounced
by judges to combine all the requisites for the manufacture, while extensive
cellars are provided, where the beer is laid down until it attains the
peculiar qualities which entitle it to the name lager.
The Messrs. Schmidlapp, have also a very good establishment immediately
across the street from Schneyer, and on the south of Water Street, immediately
east of Gray's Woolen Mill. A third brewery is operated by Messrs. Butcher
& Freyer, and is situated near the north end of Spring Street. This
is the oldest establishment for brewing in the city, manufactures largely
and has extensive cellars on the eastern bank of the Miami River near the
east end of the middle bridge, for the production of lager beer. There
is now in course of construction at the corner of Downing and Sycamore
Streets, an extensive building for manufacturing malt. Messrs. Schmidlapp
& Bro. of Cincinnati, and Leopold Keifer, of Piqua are the proprietors.
In addition to all these active manufacturers are to be noticed the flouring-mill
of Kinsell & Co., on the river bank, nearly opposite the south end
of Harrison Street; the large liquor house of J.D. Holtzermann & Son,
on the corner of Main and Water Steets, where are also manufactured the
celebrated Holtzermann Bitters, which are very extensively sold through
Western Ohio, Indiana and Illinois; the gas machine factory of John Stafford,
on the west side of the public square, and the truss hoop factory of Messrs.
Butterfield, at the north end of Wayne Street, on the Miami & Erie
Coopering is not so extensively carried on here as was done several
years since, when we were nearer to large supplies of timber, but the shops
of Vogel and of Stein and several others still produce large numbers of
barrels every year. Messrs. Hardesty & Speelman have a large steam
planing-mill and factory for building material at the west end of Water
Street, and are doing a good business as manufacturers and builders. The
planing-mill and factory of Isaac Whitlock is at the corner of Broadway
and Broome Streets. The proprietor is actively engaged as a manufacturer
The extensive and elegant marble works of J.F. Hummel are on the corner
of Spring and Ash Streets, east of the canal. No fairer monuments are produced
in the State than those gotten up by Mr. Hummel, and his work is found
in the cemeteries of Columbus, Springfield, Detroit and Cincinnati. The
best Italian and American marbles are used, and large quantities of Scotch
granite are also imported for these works. The marble works of McKee &
son are on the corner of Ash and Wayne Streets, where much good work is
Trade is the natural heritage of the Yankee nation, and that part located
at the early site of Piqua was not found wanting in the common characteristic
of the race. The Ewings were among the early traders with Indians and with
whites, and the first goods sold in the village were trafficked by members
of this family. In the old Ewing tavern, located on Main Street, on that
portion now south of the railroad, and about where Benkert's saddler's
shop is now standing, was the first trading-point in the bounds of the
village. This was early in 1809; but, in 1812, Nicholas Greenham, an Irishman
by birth and a trader by profession, arrived in town, and, renting a room
from Ewing, opened a regular country store. Furs and all kinds of country
produce were bought, and goods exchanged for them, and the whiskey bottle
and pitcher of water, with a glass tumbler or tin cup at their side, invited
every customer to partake of the liberality of the storekeeper and sharpen
his intellect for the barter which was to come off. This was the universal
custom; every one drank, and almost every one kept sober; drunkenness was
a rare fault, and was regarded with peculiar dislike. About five years
later, John McCorkle commenced the business of selling goods and buying
whatever was to be sold from the surrounding country. He and Greenham were
both successful traders, accumulated money and property, and were soon
known as the leading business men of the county. McCorkle represented the
county in the Lower House of the General Assembly, and was known as an
ardent advocate of the canal then located, since 1824, from Cincinnati
to Dayton, and which he was very desirous of seeing extended further toward
the North. He unfortunately died in 1829, without seeing his hopes realized.
William Scott was the next of the early merchants or traders of the rising
town. Then John M. Cheevers, Jacob and Abel Furrow, Byram Dayton, James
Defrees, Young & Sons, David J. Jordan (afterward Jordan & Kitchen),
William Keyt, L.R. Brownell (afterward the firm of Brownell & Carncross).
Demas Adams, William and Lewis Kirk, gradually came in , about in the order
of their names here given, and kept up the trade of the village to 1833.
Shortly after this time, the various branches of trade began to divide
themselves. The earliest liquor store was opened by John M. Cheevers, at
the north end of Main Street; the first iron store, by S.H. Brown, on the
southwest corner of the public square; the second, by John Morrow, at the
place now occupied by James Scott in the same line of business. The earliest
distinct grocery house was that of Sawyer & Davis, on Main Street,
just north of the corner now occupied by the Citizens' National Bank. The
first drug store was kept by M.G. Mitchell, on Main Street, a little south
of the present Spencer's store; the second, by Daniel Ashton, afterward
merged into the firm of Ashton & Ewing.
The establishments in the early days were small, increasing, however,
in capacity, with the demands of trade and the filling up of the country,
and we see a few of the older men who still survive, so as at least to
look on at the increasing business of the town, and to compare the present
with the former days of commercial affairs. J.M. Cheevers and William Scott
(since this writing William Scott passed away having been stricken with
paralysis) still walk the streets, as they have done for more than half
a century, and, though not actively engaged in trade, still feel a lively
interest in everything connected with the financial and commercial pursuits
and changes of the day.
William Scott is the oldest of the dry-goods merchants in the city,
indeed, no business man in the place has been so long and steadily engaged
in trade. For fifty-seven years Mr. Scott continued closely and personally
to attend to his business as a merchant. The house is now carried on in
the name of John M. Scott & Co., but the original head of the house
is always seen about when not engaged in the bank, and looks actively after
the interests of the establishment, For more than half a century Mr.
Scott has done business on the same square on Main Street, where he is
now found. Other prominent dry-goods houses are C.S. Parker & Co.,
F.W. Reiter; D Spencer & Co.; C. Gross; Stein & Co. and A. Berting.
The large clothing houses are Henry Flesh, A. Friedlich, J.F.
Hemsteger, P.I. Gates & Co., M. Friedlich. M. Newhoff, D. Urbansky
and C.W. Bachelor.
The prominent grocery houses are John Zollinger & Son; Sawyer &
Co., G. N. Ziegenfelder; P.A. Williamson. John Harbaugh & Co.; D. Louis;
Charles Lebolt; M. Ziegenfelder and M. Belier, etc.
In iron, hardware, stoves, etc., the principal dealers are R.E. Reynolds;
George Lee and James Scott.
In boots and shoes--William Ward, George Pfistner, Amos Abele and J.
There are two well filled book-stores: I.N. Todd and J. Merring.
Jewelers--A. Wendel. Aug. Thoma & Sons. Richey and M. Ryan.
Tobacconists--John Lang, Leopold Keifer and Christ & Wiltheiss.
Druggists--A.C. Wilson, Ashton Bros., Brandiff & Hedges, P. Graef
Jr. and Hunzinger.
Two large establishments engaged as tanners, curriers and leather dealers--J.M.
Brown and T.J. Wiley.
The daguerrean gallery of I. Thorpe will very well repay a visit to
any lover of art. Mr. Thorne keeps a handsome collection of pictures at
his rooms, on Main Street, and his photographs, both plain and colored,
are finished in the best style. The rooms of Mr. F. Gale are in the third
story, over the large grocery house of D. Louis, on Main Street. Mr. Gale
is said to be very successful in his pictures of young children, and he
has, himself, made some improvements in the art of photography, which are
The heavy grain dealers are Messrs. Farrington & Slauson, on the
public square and at their storehouse below the railroad, on Main Street,
and Messrs, Orr & Leonard, also on the east side of the public square
and on the canal. Both these houses are large buyers and employ an amount
of capital in the grain trade not exceeded by any dealers in the county.
There are two large hotels, the City, kept by A.J. Roe and Harry Morse,
on the corner of Main and Ash Streets, and the Leland, by Mr. C. May, at
the south end of the opera house block. Both are excellent houses. A large
number of smaller houses of entertainment are found in various parts of
The need of legal learning and advice is not felt early, as a general
rule, in a Western community, and our pioneer fathers wee no exception
to the rule. The ordinary magistrate was the depository of the law, and
what legal lore he failed to possess was not considered worth having.
Increase in population and trade, however, with the complications of business
necessarily following in the train, soon made gentlemen of the legal profession
welcome members of the community. William McLean, brother of Judge John
McLean, of the United States Supreme Court, and also Postmaster of the
United States, was the first regular professional lawyer who settled in
the village. He came to Piqua about the year 1820, and represented Miami
District, which comprehended nearly all Western Ohio north of Warren County,
in the Congress of the United States, from 1823 to 1829 inclusive. He was
a man of decided ability, honest and upright, and possesses great influence
in the community in which he lived. He was a prominent member of the Methodist
Church, as was also his excellent wife, and their house was for many years
the well-known resting-place for ministers and itinerants of this denomination.
Shortly after his last term in Congress, Mr. McLean removed from Piqua
to Cincinnati, and was for several years extensively engaged in merchantile
pursuits, but, his health failing, he retires from business, spent several
months in the Island of Cuba hoping to derive benefit for his pulmonary
disease from the change of climate, but failing in this he returned to
Cincinnati, spent some time in revisiting several points in his old Congressional
district, Piqua among others, returning, finally to his Cincinnati home,
where he ended his long and useful life in 1839.
The second member of the legal profession in Piqua was Gen. Robert Young,
a student of McLean's, and who soon succeeded to his business during his
absence in Congress, and after his removal from the county. Gen. Young
was for many years the leading lawyer of the northern part of the county,
terminating a long life of labor and usefulness at Piqua in the year 1855.
Among other early lawyers of the town may be mentioned the names of Samuel
E. Browne, Gordon N. Mott, after-ward for many years a Judge of the Courts
in California, Samuel R. Mott, Samuel Stover, Hon. R.L.P. Baber, now of
Columbus; Joseph Ewing, now residing in La Fayette, Ind.; N.F. Wilbur and
Judson Miller, now deceased. Among those still remaining in the town, the
earliest members of the bar were S.S. McKinney, M.H. Jones and Stephan
Johnson; while the later members of the profession are Hon. J.F. McKinney,
William C. Johnston, Walter B. Jones, Theodore Brooks, N. Wagner, A.C.
Buchanan, J.R. Hatch and J. McDonald.
As in the profession of law, so too in that of the healing art, the
actual wants of the early settlers were easily satisfied. The diseases
of the pioneers were few and simple, a knowledge of the powers of "roots
and herbs" acquired from the aboriginal inhabitants, or from whites
who had sojourned among them, was usually adequate to the relief of ordinary
maladiesm, and in more serious cases the aid of a distant physician was
sometimes invoked. In ordinary surgical cases, as of fractures or dislocation
of limbs, some intelligent man was usually found whose skill was sufficient
for the emergency. Col. John Johnston, the well-known Indian agent, of
Upper Piqua, a man of general information, abundant resources, and cool,
deliberate judgement, was well known for miles around the country as a
skillful manipulator of broken bones, and used frequently to say that he
rarely failed to make a good cure even in the worst fractures, with splints
of green hickory bark, in which he carefully inclosed the injured limbs,
and which soon hardened sufficently to retain the parts in proper position
and so held them until the bones were firmly united, and in connection
therewith, he used what was commonly called by the people a "Shocking
Machine", being the old-fashioned electrifying machine; it was one
of the great wonders of science, intorduced at that early day into our
sparsely settled country, and used by him as a remedial agent in nervous
About the close of the War of 1812, Henry Chapeze, of Kentucky, a well
educated physician, located at Piqua. His office and residence were on
the southwest corner of Wayne and Water Streets, on the lot now occupied
by the house of Hiram Brooks, Esq. A brick office erected on this lot was
the first building of that material in the village limits, and is well
remembered today by many of the older inhabitants. Dr. John O'Ferrall
settled in Piqua about 1820, and these two gentlemen have the honor of
being the pioneer physicians of the town and of the northern part of the
county. Both continued in the practice of their profession for many years,
riding over large extents of forest country, sometimes without roads, at
other times over ways almost impassable, where the worst mudholes and deepest
marshes were bridged over by rows of round logs, making no very secure
causeway for either horses or man. The rude cabin and rough fare of the
early settlers were their resting-place and their refreshment; a scanty
renumeration, and very frequently none at all, was the reward rendered
for services; but these faithful men toiled on, waited and hoped for better
days, and lived to see at least their dawn if not their full development.
Dr. Chapeze died about 1828; but O'Ferrall, a younger and more vigorous
man, survived until 1850, living to see the country which he entered as
a wilderness blooming with improvements and filled with elements of wealth
Among the other early physicians, are found the names of Dr. Jackson,
afterward a prominent Democratic politician of Indiana; Dr. I.T. Teller,
Dr. David Jordan (ecletic), Dr. Isaac Hendershot, Dr. Worrall, all of whom
are now passed away.
Dr. Dorsey, who read medicine for a portion of the time in the office
of Dr. O'Ferrall, commenced practice as a partner of O'Ferrall in the year
1836, and the firm continued until January 1, 1842, when it was dissolved;
but Dr. Dorsey has continued the practice from that time until the present,
with the exception of four years, from 1862 to 1865 inclusive, when he
acted as State Treasurer, residing in Columbus. In 1842, Dr. John O'Ferrall,
Jr., commenced practice with his father, and has continued in business,
with some interruptions to the present time.
The other prominent physicians of the city are Dr. J.A. Smith, Dr. V.
Dorsey Brownell, Dr. Stumm (homeopathic), all now deceased; and Drs. C.S.
Parker, W.S. Parker, J.F. Gabriel, S.S. Gray, H. Smiley, A. Ash-ton, B.
LKehman, G.S. Hyde, F.W. Walton(Eclectic), T.F. Spittle and C. Clemmer(homeopathists),
and E.A. Kitzmiller, all now in private practice.
No account of Washington Township can be complete without notice of
the extensive quarries of limestone which add so much to its wealth, and,
by the facility they afford for building, contribute, also, very largely
to the prosperity and progress of the township and the town. These quarries
are all found on the west side of the Miami, and commence immediately south
of the Rocky Branch, lying on the south border of the city, and coming
out on the west side of the turnpike leading from Piqua to Troy, on the
west side of the river. Stone also abounds on the east bank of the river,
though the quarries on that side have never been extensively opened or
worked. The first quarry below the branch is that of Mr. Harvey Clark,
who carries on actively. The second is that of Henry Kitchen, now operated
by Mr. J. Mitchell. The third is the well known Hamilton Quarry, now owned
by Dr. Dorsey, and carried on by James Hamilton, as agent. The fourth,
is the very large and extensive quarry of Mr. David Statler, two miles
south of the city, which has been for years worked by that gentleman with
Until the last twenty years, the great value of these quarries was scarcely
thought of; but, as the country has progressed in improvement, the demand
for building material has caused them to be carefully explored and operated,
and a source of wealth has been developed, which, in the early settlement
of the country, was never taken into account. A well managed stone quarry,
has come to be regarded as a treasure little inferior to the mines of the
precious metals in the Far West.
After the development of the country about Piqua, when exportation became
a necessity in order to get the sight of a little money, flat-boats were
constructed, and loaded with flour, bacon, corn in the ear, cherry lumber,
furniture, and other products.
The boats were built here, on the bank of the Miami River, with two
parallel gunwales. from sixty to seventy-five feet in length, and the boat
about twelve feet wide. They were built bottom side up, the plank in the
bottom running crosswise and spiked to the gunwales, with the ends imbedded
in a rabbet cut into the gunwales deeper than the thickness of the boards,
so as to secure the bottom from catching while floating over shoal places.
When the hull or bottom was caulked and completed, it was then turned
over by raising up one side and letting it fall over upon brush piled up
in sufficient quantity to save the hull from injury by the fall; it was
then launced into the river, and the siding and deck completed, forming
complete protection to the cargo and the boatmen. Some of the men engaged
in this commerce were Joseph Bennett, a cabinet-maker; ____ Tinkham, a
cabinet-maker, who would ship, by this means, bedsteads in large quantities,
and coast along the Mississippi River, retailing out to the people along
the river what-ever was in demand. The risk in navigating the Miami River
required great skill and presence of mind, especially in passing over mill-dams
and following the channel of the river through the "Ninety-nine Islands,"
as they were called, located a few miles below Troy. The pilot of notoriety
was Robert Logan, a very large man, and when in command of one of these
boats about to start on its journey, and standing upon the deck disciplining
his boatman to the use of the oars, was looked upon with as much consideration
as the greatest admiral who ever commanded a fleet. To see one of these
boats pass through the channel of the river at these islands, was indeed
a most thrilling sight, required the most consummate skill and quickness
of action to wind this unwieldy craft through its tortuous route to safe
passage. After passing into the Ohio River, the pilot and other men not
wanted to coast were discharged, but some of the dangers of boating were
still incident to the voyage.
Along the banks of the Mississippi are frequently found eddies, or whirlpools,
into which the boat is liable to be drawn, and when once fairly in the
circuit, it was difficult to cross the circuit and reach the straight current.
An ancedote is told of one of these eddies in the Mississippi. The crew
are each required at night to take his turn on the watch, and in case of
an approaching steamboat, to swing the torch or light to prevent collision.
On one occasion, a green hand was called on watch in the darkness of the
night, and, shortly after taking his positionon deck, the boat, without
his observation, was drawn into one of these eddies, opposite to which,
on the bank of the river, stood a brick church, and the boat continued
making a circuit during the whole time of his watch. When his turn was
up, he awoke the man to take his place on deck, and upon being asked how
he got along, replied, "First Rate," but added that "it
was the darnedest place for brick churches he had ever seen in his life."
In connection with the history of flatboating, it was common for boatman
returning from New Orleans to walk all the way home again, passing through
a wilderness north of New Orleans and through what was then called Indian
Nations, Choctaws and Chickasaws. Jacob Lands, Esq., and David Hunter,
both of whom deceased at Piqua after a long residence, made this journey
on foot, and have frequently related incidents connected with the journey
through the Indian country.
Another fact in connection with this primitive commerce was the building
of a large keel-boat by John Chatham on the public square in Piqua, directly
west of Orr & Leonard's warehouse. This boat was built (the hull) and
hauled to St. Mary's, the bow resting on the wheels of a wagon, and the
stern on sled-runners, with eight horses, two teams belonging to James
Johnston and John Campbell. It was then launched into the St. Mary's River,
and was used on that stream to freight to Fort Wayne and on the Maumee
River. It was about eight feet wide by fifty-five or sixty feet in length.
The Columbus, Piqua & Indiania Railroad, now called the Pittsburgh,
Cincinnati & St. Louis Railway Company, was chartered by the Legis-
lature February 23, 1849.
The charter was draen by Stephen Johnston, Esq., while working at a
saddler's bench, with his sleeves rolled up. He had had some legislative
experience, and was scalled upon to prepare the charter. The original,
or rough draft is now among the papers belonging to the estate of M.G.
Mitchell, deceased, who was elected President of the company, and for many
years during the building of the roas was the principal manager of the
enterprise. The road was completed from Columbus to Piqua in 1856, and
gave to the northern part of Miami County facilities for an Eastern market.
This road is now the great central railway, through fare from the East
to the West, with branches and connecting lines reaching from the Atlantic
to the Pacific.
The Dayton & Michigan Railroad was chartered by the Legislature,
March 5, 1851, and was completed to Piqua in 1856, so that Piqua was given
a southern outlet by rail, and, with its present history, embraces the
commercial facilities commencing about 1820, and being completed within
the lapse of thirty-six years. This time, compared with the development
of the West now, would seem to be at a snail's gait, but to the retrospect
of the pioneer of Miami County, to him is indeed marvelous.
Water-Works and Hydraulic Canal
The subject of creating an hydraulic power, to be displayed at Piqua,
was an enterprise discussed by the citizens of Piqua for nearly forty years,
and on the 7th day of April, 1856, the General Assembly passed a bill,
authorizing M.C. Ryan, James G. Haley, T.L.P. Defrees & Co., to enlarge
athe Lewistown reservoir, and in consideration to receive all surplus water
on the line of canal created by them, for the use of hydraulic power, and
these parties became an incorporated company under the name of the "Miami
Hydraulic and Manufacturing Company," and were for some time actively
engaged in trying to induce the cit- izens of Piqua to cooperate with
them, but the enterprise failed, and they surrendered their contract to
the State, and abandoned the enterprise.
The next step was the incorporation of the "Piqua Hydraulic Company,"
drawn up by Stephen Johnston, and signed December 12, 1865.
After the organization of the company, further legislature was deemed
necessary, and, on the 6th day of April, 1866, a bill was passed by the
Legislature of Ohio, authorizing the use of surplus water of the canal
for hydraulic purposes.
Under the provisions of this act this company was enabled to contract
with the State for the surplus of water. Dr. G.V. Dorsey was elected President,
and continued as such until January, 1868, when he resigned, and Stephen
Johnston, Esq., was elected President of the Board of Directors, and immediately
entered upon the discharge of his duty, which was a general supervision
of the work in obtaining the rights of way and raising money to carry on
the work after the work was put under contract.
The enterprise at the time - in view of the stringent money market and
magnitude of the work, was regarded by the citizens, with scarcely a
single exception, as an impossible undertaking, but Mr. Johnston conceived
the plan of the water works in connection with the hydraulic enterprise,
and by that means secured $50,000 in bonds from the city.
He also conceived the plan of obtaining an appropriation from the city,
the sum of $15,000, to pay for drainage, which would result by a proper
construction of the canal.
This fund, together with other assests of stock subscribed, etc., induced
the letting of the work, on the 16th day of March, 1869, to Messrs. Boyle
& Roach, who, after completion of a large portion of the work, assigned
their contract to Messrs. Burns & Gallager, who proved to be most efficient
contractors. A.G. Conover, Esq., was the Engineer-in Charge of the work,
and Jacob D. Holtzemin, Esq., Treasurer.
During the progress of the work two serious accidents occured, by the
breaking away, during high water, of the embankment at Swift Run, which
occasioned a loss of $40,000.
The canal is over six miles in length, and contains within its prism
and reservoirs therewith connected, at least 150 acres of water-line, at
an elevation of thirty-eight feet over the city, and three falls aggregating
fifty-two feet six inches, for hydraulic power. The water-works, in point
of efficiency in every particular, are not exceeded by any other water-works
of the kind in the United States, and have already saved one-half their
cost by the extinquishment of fires having most alarming outbreaks at the
They finally completed, and duly opened for test and display on the
14th day of June, 1876.
The plan of the work as completed was written out and foreshadowed by
Stephen Johnston, and published in the preface of the City Directory in
Fortifications in Piqua
On the bank of the Miami River, near where the extensive woolen mills
of F. Gray now stands, was a block-house and stockade therewith connected.
The stockade remained as one of the relics of Indian warfare, and is
still in the memory of some of the pioneers now living. Its northline,
running east and west, was not far from the north line of Water Street,
extending west to the present site of the Leland Livery Stable.
The First Use of Dynamite in Piqua
The Piqua Straw Boaed and Papre Company located its mills, which are
now under roof, at the intersection of Main Street and the Rocky Branch.
The foundation required the blasting of shelly rock, which does not
yield to powder, in consequences of the seams through the rock. Knowing
this, the company determined to try dynamite, a very dangerous material
to handle. They found a man, recently become a citizen, H.F. Ernest, who
was well skilled in its use, and our people were amazed at the explosions
and results of this powerful agency in blasting. Some of the blasts included
as high as twenty different drill holes, and each connected with a wire
was ignited by the use of a battery, all exploding at the same moment,
and at a single blast would heave up more than one hundred tons of rock.
The work was a complete success, and is another step in the progress
of science just introduced in April 1880. Nobody was injured during work
of about one month.
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