Miami County, Ohio Genealogical Researchers -- Sponsored by the Computerized Heritage Association

Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History


Miami County Ohio

Chapter 9


Origin of the City - Its Historic Associations - An Indian Legend -
Piqua Formerly Called Washington - Coming of Job Gard -
Reminiscences of Joseph Hilliard -
Piqua a Place of Rendezvous in the War of 1812 -
Land Office Established in 1819 - Piqua Becomes a Town in 1843 -
First Election Under the Charter - Early Mayors - Amusing Ordinances - Population in 1826 - The Act of Incorporation - The Ewing Tavern -
Early Merchants and Leading Citizens - Piqua Benefited by the Canal
Coming of the Railroad - The Hydraulic Canal - Business Statistics
The Town Hall - The John Vail Academy - Early Schools -
Educational Progress - Religious Institutions-
Relics of the Mound Builders - Military Spirit of 1861-65
Soldier's Aid Societies - War Memorials - Postmasters-
Fire Department - City Government

The City of Piqua, familiarly called the Border City, is coexistent with the formation of the county. It has a history peculiarly its own. Its name rests upon a tradition which antedates the coming of the white man into this locality. Gen. George Rogers Clark, the ranger general of the Revolution, destroyed the Mad River Indian towns, inhabited at the time by the Shawnees and kindred tribes. This act on the part of Clark forced the red men farther north and they established themselves at Upper Piqua - Pickawillany, as it was then known in border history. We are told that "Piqua" in the Shawnee tongue signifies "ashes" and the legend is that many years before the foot of the first adventurous pale face disturbed the leaves of the Miami forests, the Indians captured a prisoner in one of their inter-tribal wars. The prisoner, according to the custom of the savages, was burned at the stake with all the inhuman ceremonies attending such brutality. The legend further avers that when the body was reduced to ashes and the victors were contemplating it, a full-grown man rose slowly from the white heap and stood before the astonished warriors. Electrified and dumbfounded at this, the Indians set up the cry of "Otatha-he-wagh- piqua!" which means "He comes out of the ashes." Piqua, being the site of a Shawnee town, received the name it now bears from the legend of the tortured captive. The late George C. Johnston, who was for some years a Shawnee by adoption, and who was perfectly familiar with the language of that tribe, is the authority for this bit of legendary history. Therefore,

"Should you ask me when these legends,
Whence these legends and traditions,
I would answer, I would tell you,
From the campfires of the Shawnees."

On an old map of the Miami Country, made in 1815, the present city of Piqua is designated as Washington, while Piqua, the Indian town, is located by the cartographer farther north. The name of Washington was retained for a number of years. In Drake's book (1815) is to be found the following allusion to it: "Washington is a village of this (Miami) County. It lies eight miles above Troy, on the same side of the river, on the site of an old Indian settlement. The plain on which it stands is less than a mile from the river and terminates in wet ground, similar to that in the rear of Troy. Timber for building is convenient and the bed of the river near the village affords good limestone in an abundance. The excellent mill sites at this place are already improved to some extent. There is a Post Office, which receives a weekly mail from Cincinnati. It was laid out by Messrs. Brandon and Manning in I809 and has been nearly ever since in competition with Troy for the county seat of Justice. It would seem from the above description of Piqua published nearly a century ago that even then the pleasant rivalry which exists today between it and Troy was fostered and kept warm by agitation. In 1798, nine years before Brandon's survey of Piqua, Job Gard, who had served under "Mad Anthony Wayne," settled on the site of Piqua. He had land about the "Bend," which ground had been cultivated by the Indians in their primitive way. Gard sold some of his improved land to John Manning, which is now Harrison Street in Piqua. Settlers began to flock to the little settlement in considerable numbers. Fear of Indian uprisings forced the whites to group their cabins for mutual protection. Hand mills and hominy mortars came into vogue and before long the pioneer store opened for business where are found today the fine mercantile blocks that accentuate the Border City's prosperity. Piqua was well located and grew as the years slipped by.

John Manning and Mathew Caldwell entered the land where Piqua now stands and it was formally surveyed by Armstrong Brandon in 1807. At this time there were but seven houses in Piqua, or Washington as it was then called. The first homes were occupied by John Manning, Edward Manning, Alexander Ewing, Benjamin Leavell, Arthur Brandon, Nathaniel Whitcomb and Joseph Porquette. These houses stood on Water and Main Streets. From some cause or other the inhabitants became dissatisfied with the name of the town, not from any disrespect to the illustrious citizen for whom it had been named, and in 1816 they petitioned the legislature to give them back the old Indian name of Piqua, in which they succeeded. Henceforth the town became known as Piqua though the township kept the appellation dropped by the settlement. If one is curious to know the manners and customs of the first families of Piqua he is referred to the interesting reminiscences of Joseph Hilliard, one of the members. As Mr. Hilliard's account is not accessible to the general reader I will be pardoned for making a few extracts.

"The common dress of the young men," says the narrator, "consisted of hunting shirts made of buckskin and cut in notches in such a way as to make ornamental fringes, and pantaloons of the same material. Instead of hats they wore fur caps of their own manufacture and made from the skin of fox or raccoon and adorned with the tail of the animal for a pendant. Boots and shoes were little worn, buckskin moccasins being worn instead. When fine shoes were worn they were of a style which the young ladies and gentlemen of the present day would scarcely know to what use they could be applied. They were much longer than the foot and terminated in a sharp point which of course turned up. Young ladies' dresses were made of calico or chintz, but principally of calico. Their ordinary dresses were made of striped linsey and very often they had no other kind. There were no hoops in those days, our log cabins scarcely affording sufficient room for the modern style of female dress.

"Such an article as a cooking stove was unknown in early Piqua, the wide chimneys affording sufficient space for all cooking purposes. We kept time without a clock and were as regular in our habits as now. Our floors were made of puncheons split out of the log and sometimes hewed. For chairs we used benches from three to six feet long and small three-legged stools which served all necessary purposes for comfort and convenience. Our dishes consisted of bowls and trays made of pewter or wood, no china or Liverpool ware being then in use. All our furniture was plain and common and no one style was covered by a patent.

"It has been said that much of the early history of Piqua is obscured by tradition. It is true that tradition is unreliable, but the written reminiscences of the early settlers, the men who broke up the forests and led the vanguard of civilization, are reliable and should be cherished and preserved. The growth of Piqua kept pace with the years. For a long time the first inhabitants suffered from what the present generation would term "insurmountable difficulties."

There were no matches, tinder, flint and steel being used to obtain a light; the fire was buried at night as a matter of economy, the household light was a tallow dip and fingers were used as snuffers, sugar was made from the tree; corn was prepared for food by boiling it with a bag of hard wood ashes to soften and hull it. The married women wore caps and all females carried "reticules," which were sometimes adorned with cucumber or muskmelon seeds to "set them off." Every Saturday night the young Piquans greased their shoes with tallow to look well for Sunday. When they needed blacking soot was taken from the under side of the kettle and mixed with water for the purpose. When a person died they stopped the clock, covered the looking glass with a towel and turned it to the wall until after the funeral.

The foregoing are a few of the "fashions and manners" which prevailed when Piqua was young. When the place had grown to fair dimensions some of these were superseded by others more in keeping with the changed times.

The growing town was considerably helped by the War of 1812. This war which, to a certain extent, retarded the growth of Troy, operated differently for Piqua. Col. John Johnston got together a large body of Indians upon his farm and kept them neutral. Piqua became a place of rendezvous during the war. Provisions were collected there and from there transported north. This brought a good deal of business to the town.

An Indian agency was established at Piqua. Col. Johnston handled large amounts of goods, money and supplies; he restricted the trade to Piqua. While there is no sign of graft during those days, it is a matter of record that the Colonel did not neglect his relatives.

In 1819 Piqua was still further benefited by the establishment of a land office. The first register of the land office I have any account of was Col. T.B. VanHorne, who became one of Piqua's. foremost citizens. He was a soldier by profession. Being stationed at Detroit in 1811, he and Gen. Lewis Cass tried to persuade Hull to fight and not surrender. VanHorne was a man who had not a drop of cowardly blood in his veins. When the aged poltroon of the time surrendered Detroit to the enemy VanHorne was one of the officers who broke their swords rather than undergo the humiliation of turning them over to the British. Cass was another officer who followed VanHorne's example.

Piqua was raised from a village to the dignity of a town in 1843. This charter was passed by the House and Senate of the General Assembly and became a law, receiving the signatures of John Chaney, speaker of the House and James S. Farrein, speaker of the Senate, March 13, 1843. Some odd features are connected with this charter. It made the councilmen the judges of elections and the recorder the clerk of the same. Any person refusing to serve when elected was subject to a fine of two dollars. The mayor, recorder and marshal were required to give bond in an amount satisfactory to the council, which body had the authority to appoint a collector and treasurer for terms of one year.

The first election under the new charter was held the following April. William R. Barrington was chosen mayor. He was a newspaper man. He edited the first newspaper printed in Piqua, the Piqua Gazette, which he sold in 1837. At the first election F.R. Cole was chosen town recorder. For the next seven years the mayors of Piqua were William R. Barrington, G.B. Frye, J.P. Williamson, J.W. Horton, S.S. McKinney, Jos.C. Horton, Stephen Johnston. The recorders during the same period was as follows: F.R. Cole, J.A. Truitt, William Elliott, M.H. Jones. Among the later mayors of Piqua one finds the names of Hirvey Clark, Samuel Garvey, W.W.V. Buchanan, George Detmer, George A. Brooks, John C. Geyer, E.M. Wilbee, J. Ward Keyt, J.E. Smith, L.C. Cron, and J.C. Hughes. The latter is the present efficient mayor of the city.

Some of the early ordinances that were placed on the official records of Piqua are decidedly amusing as viewed at this day. One of the first provided for a license of from $5 to $20 per day for showmen. Another which was adopted in March 1845, prescribes the manner in which the town hall might be used by the public. When it was designed to use the building for any purpose it was necessary to interview the marshal, who was both custodian and janitor. This high functionary had the authority under the ordinance to allow several denominations of Christians to use the hall for religious purposes. But the same denomination could not occupy it twice in the same month. Political parties might also use the hall, but some person had to be responsible to the marshal in case of any damages arising to the building from a too free discussion of political opinions. In those days, and for some time later, something more emphatic than arguments often took place at conventions held in this county and broken chairs, to say nothing of broken heads, sometimes resulted. Hence the wisdom of having some responsible person become surety for the safety of the town hall during political meetings.

In 1826 William R. Barrington took an enumeration of Piqua. It was found to have 450 inhabitants included in seventy-five families, an average of six to the family. The year before Piqua's population was 248, while Troy's was 283. At the Barrington census there were no colored people in Piqua.

The city was incorporated in l823, at which time an act of incorporation was granted by the General Assembly in which it was 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 incorporation of towns' and being filed in the office of the secretary of state, the documents required by the above recited act, etc." This act of incorporation, which is now in the possession of Mr. John A. Raynor of Piqua, is signed by Jeremiah MeLene, secretary of state, and has affixed to it the old seal of Ohio. In this important paper Piqua is described as follows:

"Situated on the western bank of the Great Miami River, and was originally laid out by John Manning and Mathew Caldwell and includes a part of Fraction, 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, etc. The whole town as contained and represented by said plats is bound by the Great Miami River on the North, by the lands of Charles Murry and Manning on the east, and by the lands of John Campbell, Mathew Caldwell and John Kyte on the west, which said town was called Washington, but afterwards by an act of the Legislature of this state changed to Piqua, by which name it is now known and called."

Grown from its first inception in the wilderness of the Miami, Piqua had reached the dignity of an incorporated town. It had previously become a place of some importance. From its first dealings with the Indians trade had gradually turned into more profitable channels. The Ewings were the first traders or merchants of Piqua. They bartered largely with the Indians. In 1809 the famous Ewing tavern stood on Main Street. For some time it was the commercial center of Piqua. It was the first place sought by the new comer and the last one where he "wet his whistle ere he bade adieu to the town. If a full record of the days and nights spent by the guests of this old hostelry could be found, an interesting chapter could be added to this work. Ewing did a good business for the time, though it is said that now and then some guest left him in the lurch and went his way, leaving behind the memories of an unpaid bill which the landlord charged against the profit and loss page in his ledger.

In 1812 an Irishman named Nicholas Greenham dropped into Piqua. He had the odors of the "old sod" upon him. Trade and barter looked out of his eyes and he proceeded to set up the first country store in the Border City. He rented a room in Ewing's tavern and what escaped the eye of this son of Erin is not worthy of record. He gathered in all sorts of country produce, for which he exchanged the contents of his shelves and some things that were not kept in sight. The sharp Nicolas kept in full view the whiskey bottle and a pitcher of water and every customer prospective and actual was invited to "help himself" without stint, for whiskey was cheap those days and proverbially good. More than one Indian smacked his lips over the Irish merchant's bottle and when the said redskin became somewhat mellow and thought the world his own, Mr. Greenham bartered with him for his furs and usually came out best.

By and by John McCorkle opened a store. The name McCorkle is an honored one to this day in Piqua. He represented Miami County in the Ohio Legislature and was one of the most ardent friends of the canal, which he did not live to see completed. Among the other early merchants of Piqua were William Scott, John M. Cheevers, Jacob and Abel Furrow, Byram Dayton, James Defrees, Young & Sons, David J. Jordan, William Keyt, L.R. Brownell, Demas Adams, William and Lewis Kirk. All these old merchants have passed away, but among the heirlooms to be found at this day among the families of the county are certain goods, household utensils, etc., which were purchased over their counters. Some of these old-fashioned wares were paid for in "sharpskins" or the money which came into use about the time of the second war with England.

The history of every locality has closely identified with it men who became a part of it in various capacities. This is essentially true of Piqua. It has had for its citizens some of the foremost men of the country. Among these is the late Stephen Johnston. Major Johnston came of good Irish stock. His father, who came to Ohio in 1808, was killed by the Indians near Fort Wayne, Ind., during the War of 1812, The mother of Major Johnston was Mary Caldwell, a pioneer woman who knew Daniel Boone and the famous backwoodsmen of the early day. She was acquainted also with several of the noted Indian chiefs, including Tecumseh, the red cyclone of the border wars. Major Johnston was a saddler by trade and had the distinction of having drafted upon his bench the charter for the Columbus, Piqua & Indiana Railroad company, now known as one of the component parts of the Pennsylvania System. He was elected sheriff of Miami County, was a candidate for governor on the Greenback ticket in l877, and previously, 1864, an elector on the Lincoln ticket. Reaching a ripe old age he passed to his reward, having done much for the city which he helped to build up in connection with his own sterling character.

Another of Piqua's prominent citizens was Godwin Volney Dorsey, M.D., who was born in 1812. He became treasurer of state, being elected during the exciting Brough-Vallandigham campaign of 1863, though his first elevation to that office took place in 1861. Dr. Dorsey was originally a Jeffersonian Democrat, but in 1849 he represented Miami, Darke, and Shelby Counties in the legislature as a Whig. From that time on, covering a period of many years, he filled various offices of trust. He was a man of comprehensive erudition and a profound scholar. He translated the best part of Horace, some Greek tragedies and a number of Latin medieval hymns. In therapeutics and surgery Dr. Dorsey stood at the head of his profession and his death was a loss to the city which he had honored by his learning and presence.

Major Johnston and Dr. Dorsey were but two of the many citizens who stimulated the growth of Piqua. Among others in the profession of medicine stand Henry Chapeze, who came from Kentucky and located in Piqua about 1813. Dr. John O'Ferrall followed him in 1820, and he was succeeded by Drs. Jacksoia, Teller, Jordan, Hendershot and Worrell. These old practitioners, some of whom are still remembered by the older citizens of Piqua, gave way at last to others and with the "old guard" went the old practice of medicine.

When the Miami & Erie canal was opened to Piqua the city became a miniature mart. Until then it had had but little intercourse with the outside world, save through the trafficking carried on by the flatboats and barges which navigated the rivers going as far South as New Orleans. Piqua for some time was at the head of canal navigation and therefore was a place much sought by the merchants and farmers of the surrounding country. The canal brought it much business and went far toward enriching a number of its citizens. The boats which cut the waters of the canal were many and "warious," as Mr. Wegg would say. There are extant to this day some of the old shipping bills of the late 30's from Cincinnati firms to Ashton & Ewing of Piqua. These ancient bills give the names of the boats with those of their captains who led the gaudily painted craft through the locks - Captains Prescott, Jordan, Clark, Whistler, Bennett, Culbertson, Barton and Taylor, all names connected with the early water navigation in Miami County. Piqua grew with the canal, which probably accounts for the tenacity with which the city still battles for its retention as a waterway, though much of its usefulness has departed.

The coming of the railroad to Piqua opened up a new avenue to business prosperity. The steam lines followed the canal and naturally took much business from it. Although steam is a swifter method of conveyance than mule power, the canal was slow to relinquish its domain. Freight continued to be hauled on the boats through Piqua and for years after the establishment of the steam roads canal traffic continued to be great. Of late years, however, this mode of shipment has diminished, and, while the locks are still maintained, the canal is no longer much of a business factor. The old system helped to build up Piqua, as well as other county towns along its route, and the early merchants found it an indispensable business agent.

The Dayton & Michigan Railroad was formally chartered in March 1851. It was completed to Piqua in 1856. This gave the city and the contiguous region a long desired outlet to the South.

Everyone hailed the railroad with delight. A new era had dawned, one of great promise to the commercial interests of the Border City. The same year that witnessed the entrance of the Dayton & Michigan Railroad in to Piqua (1856) saw the completion of the P.C.& St. L. Railroad (Pennsylvania Line) to this city. Major Stephen Johnston had drafted the charter of this line on his saddler's bench. An eastern market was now opened up to Piqua and this, with the region tapped by the Dayton & Michigan Railroad, added to the prosperity of the place. These two roads with their various branches placed the city in communication with the East and West.

In later years and quite recently two prominent electric lines entered the city. The Dayton & Troy Electric Railway blazed the way for a trolley and the Dayton, Covington & Piqua Line came soon after. There is now electric communication with Cincinnati and Toledo, and, through the aid of branch lines, with nearly every part of Ohio and a large portion of Indiana.

The need of hydraulic power by Piqua inaugurated a move in that direction as early as 1856 when the Legislature passed a bill looking to the enlargement of the Lewistown Reservoir for hydraulic purposes. The "Miami Hydraulic and Manufacturing Company" which was organized at this time, failed to successfully interest the citizens of Piqua and was abandoned. In 1865 the "Piqua Hydraulic Company" was incorporated and Dr. Dorsey became its first president, serving till 1868. After a vast amount of work and the expenditure of large sums of money, after numerous drawbacks which would have discouraged less energetic people than its projectors, the hydraulic canal was completed and in June 1876, it was opened for test and display.

"Probably no event connected with the city since its foundation," says a writer, was of so much importance to its people and should conduce more to its ultimate growth and development, than the completion of the hydraulic canal, producing fine water power and thus creating the life artery of the city. A cheap and neverfailing power, it thus provided for running a great number of establishments requiring power. In addition to this use and operated by the hydraulic canal, there has been completed a system of waterworks, containing over seven miles of pipe and the necessary number of hydrants, furnishing an inexhaustible supply of water for domestic purposes, and, in connection with a well appointed fire department, giving a better protection against loss by fire than is usually found in cities of its class."

In 1890 the manufacturing and jobbing interest of Piqua amounted to over $7,000,000 - figures which represent less than one-half of its actual business. In that year there was a grand total of 646 manufacturing establishments, wholesale and retail houses and miscellaneous industries. Since then this total has been largely increased; In 1906 seventy-nine manufactures were reported, with an annual payroll of $1,267,000. Upwards of two million dollars were invested in these industries and the total value of goods produced or manufactured amounted to twice that sum. This is certainly an excellent showing for a city of 15,000 inhabitants, a city upon whose site less than a century ago stood the cabin of the settler and the wigwam of the Indian.

Retracing our steps a little, let us describe the buildings of one of the famous public institutions of Piqua. About sixty four years ago the city was interested in the erection of its town hall or council house, as it was then called. This old building which is still the official residence of the city, was commenced in 1843 and completed the following year. The contractors were Spencer & Darnold. J. Reed Hilliard furnished the brick and lime. It was in the early days of the Miami & Erie Canal and the iron work and glass of the building had to be transported from Cincinnati by water. Messrs. Reed, Hilliard and Walkup went to the Queen City to purchase the material on a boat run by Lawton and Barnett. After transacting their business the several agents found themselves icebound by the freezing of the canal and were obliged to seek other means of returning home. Mr. Walkup engaged the only remaining seat in the northbound stagecoach, while the other members of the party concluded to walk home. They made the entire journey on foot while the purchased material had to wait till the opening of the canal, which did not take place till the following spring. Work was then resumed on the council house and the "ornate structure," ornate for the time at least, was finally completed.

In those days it was asserted that the public square was east on Main Street, On the West Side of Main Street stood the old academy or seminary of John Vail, where some of the elder residents of Piqua finished their education. The academy was a long, low structure which disappeared many years ago. On the site of the Post Office stood the home of Martin Simpson, which in later years gave way for what is known as the Conover Opera House. About this time the population of Piqua amounted to 2,600.

It is a far cry from the splendid school buildings of the city of Piqua back to the educational beginnings. The first inhabitants, desirous of having their children well educated, built the first school house in 1809. This building stood outside of the then limits of the town near the present corner of Main and Young Streets. The first teacher was John Hendershot. The interior furnishings of this "temple" of learning were of the simplest, the books the simple ones of early times. Hendershot could teach the "three R's" and was an instructor of the old style.

"A man severe he was and stern to view, They knew him well and every truant knew, Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace The day's disasters in his morning face; Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee At all his jokes, and many a joke had he; Full well the busy whisper circling round, Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned Yet kind he was, or if severe in naught, The love he bore to learning was in fault; The village all declared how much he knew, 'Twas certain he could write and cipher too, Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage, Add e'en the story ran that he could gauge. in arguing too, the parson owned his skill, For e'en the vanquished he could argue still, While words of learned length and thundering sound Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around, And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew That one small head should carry all he knew."

In 1818 the first schoolhouse gave way for a brick one and to this was given the loftier name of the Academy. Rev. J.P. Finley was the first instructor in the new building. It was not until 1850 that the public schools were organized. The graded schools of Piqua came in 1854, when the site for the first high school was selected. Dr. G. Voliaey Dorsey and William Scott, members of the board of education, chose the site, and A.G. Chambers was made the first teacher and superintendent of the new structure. Since then Piqua has made rapid strides in the matter of education, until today she stands in the foremost rank in matters of this kind. Her schools have sent into public life men and women who have made their mark and who have reflected honor and credit upon their Alma Mater. Every branch of education is taught in her high schools and her educators have always been of the highest order.

The religious institutions of the city have kept pace with its development along other lines. The United Presbyterians built the first log church in 1816. Before this time religious services were held in the homes of the early settlers and in the umbrageous groves that surrounded the town. The Rev. Dyer Burgess was the first minister to call the people to worship and his convincing discourses were long cherished by those who sat under the droppings of the first sanctuary erected in Piqua. In 1837 Rev. James Porter presided over a little flock in neat brick building. The Methodists, after occupying the seminary on the public square, built a small brick church on Spring Street in 1825, but this gave way to a larger church edifice which became known as the Green Street Church. The most celebrated pastor this church has known was the renowned Granville Moody, known as the "Fighting Parson," for when the Civil War broke out he exchanged the pulpit for the tented field and was as successful as a conqueror of rebellion as he was as a conqueror of souls. It is asserted that during one of the fiercest battles of the war, overcome by military zeal and excitement, he instructed his command to "Give them h--l, boys!" But Colonel Moody always maintained that what he really did say was: "Give them Hail Columbia."

Other churches now followed in rapid rotation. The Methodists erected another on Water Street, known as Grace Church, James Stevenson, pastor; the present Old School Presbyterian Church arose on the corner of Wayne and Ash streets, the Second Presbyterian on Wayne Street, while the Baptist first worshiped on Ash Street but. afterward (1848) on High, near Wayne. The remaining churches of Piqua are St. James Parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church, which was organized about 1820, the German Lutheran, the United Brethren, the German Episcopal Methodist, the Roman Catholic. Of late years some of these old churches have given place to better houses of worship, until now the city is well housed religiously and the congregations are large and liberal. The congregations of Piqua will be further referred to in a separate chapter.

"The Piqua Female Bible Society" came into existence in 1817. This society followed the establishment of the American Bible Society by only one year. Its first president was Mrs. Rachel Johnston, who held the office continuously till her death in 1840, when Mrs. Eliza Petit became president. She was succeeded by Mrs. M. H. Jones, who conducted the affairs of the society until her death, which occurred in recent years.

It is not generally known by those outside the limits of Piqua that within her borders are numerous tumuli, which indicate the residence of the Mound Builders. These first denizens of that part of the county covered by that city and its environs have left behind them traces of their abode. In some of these mounds have been found skeletons and various implements which attest the former, presence of this vanished race. Mr. J.A. Rayner recently unearthed the complete skeleton of a mound builder along with some curious implements. In many parts of Piqua have been found numerous utensils, weapons, etc., used by the Indians and the Johnston farm near by has been discovered to be rich in such finds.

While the history of the regimental organizations of the county which took part in the suppression of the Rebellion in 1861-1865 is treated in another chapter, reference must be made here to the patriotic spirit that stirred the people of Piqua during that momentous period. It is but fair to say that the scenes were duplicated in other parts of the county. With the first enlistment's which followed the memorable attack upon Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, the loyal citizens of the Border City came forward with aid societies and kindred organizations, which did much to keep up the spirit of patriotism. The first soldiers had hardly left the city with their faces turned toward the disloyal South where the first Soldier's Aid Society sprang into existence. The drum was still sounding in the ears of those left behind and the sun threw back from the sabers the first glints of war.

The first Piqua Aid Society was organized with Mrs. Henry Kitchen as president, Mrs. Preston Defrees, vice-president, Mrs. J.F. McKinney, secretary, and Mrs. James Starrett, treasurer. A quartette of women more loyal to the cause of the Union was not to be found in the country. The Green Street Methodist Church was the scene of the organization of the Society, and Mrs. Rachel Davis gave up a portion of her house for the work. Once a week the members of the Society came together. During the entire period of the war the ladies remained at their post of duty. They rolled bandages, scraped lint, knitted stockings and mittens for use at the front. Everything that could add to the comfort of the men who were fighting the battles of the Nation was done. Box after box of remembrances of home was filled and dispatched to the various camps where the soldiers of Miami County were to be found. It was a labor of love and duty. Not only were the men of the county remembered, but soldier passing through Piqua were intercepted by the untiring workers and supplied with the comforts of life.

Not only this, but soldiers returning from the front, sick and wounded, found tender nurses in the women of Piqua. Nothing discouraged this patriotic organization, not even the disasters of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Chickamauga. In the hearts of Piqua's loyal women was an abiding faith in the final outcome of the struggle. The last winding-sheet of many a Piqua boy was folded by tender hands and his grave was strewn with flowers by the women of the Aid Society. Night and day they labored, some in mourning for those slain, and others in fear of what the next battle news would bring them. When the end came and the perpetuity of the Union had been established, the society held its last meeting and disbanded. Its work had been well done and the City of Piqua today is proud of the women who bound the warrior's sash and told him to come back with his shield or upon it, like the Spartan matrons of old.

On the 14th of June, 1899, the D.A.R. Chapter of Piqua set up a memorial stone on the site of the last battle fought in the French and Indian War. This spot is near the city. The addresses made on that occasion were as follows: By Rev. A. Ramsey on "The Glories of War," by Judge John C. Geyer in behalf of the sons of the American Revolution, by Dr. C.W. Bennett, who represented the Grand Army of the Republic. C.B. Jamison read an historical paper and James Ward Keyt a paper written for the occasion by the compiler of this work. Again, on Flagday (June 14) 1906 the same society placed a bronze tablet on the West End of the famous Col. John Johnston house with appropriate ceremonies. This old house is situated at Upper Piqua and during the War of 1812 was inhabited by Col. Johnston and his family. It was here that he kept a great many Indians from taking part in the contest and thereby saved the unprotected frontiers much bloodshed.

When a Post Office was established at Piqua, Arthur Brandon was made Postmaster, receiving his commission from President Madison. I have been unable to secure a complete list of his successors, but from 1824 to the present time they have been as follows: James Defrees, John Carson, John W. Gordon, Joseph Housum, Henry C. Landis, John Marshall, Jonas Ward, Andrew J. Roe, Joseph M. Patterson, LaRoy S. Jordan, J.R. Thorne, Henry C. Graflin, J.W. Shipley, John W. Morris, Joshua W. Orr. Edward N. Wilbee served as postmaster during a vacancy. The present roster of the Post Office is as follows: Postmaster, J.W. Orr; assistant, William H. Flach; money order and registry clerk, Arthur L. Redman; general delivery and stamp clerk, Lee F. Rayner; mailing clerks, Forest B. Hunter, Charles H. Folk, O.W. Scudder, Emmet Shane; special delivery messenger, George A. Reamer; city carriers, Charles C. Fisher, William M. Fleming, Louis Gabel, Charles H. Gram, H.W McCabe, James V. Offenbach, Ray R. Shipley, J.M. Stump, Theodore VonBargen; rural carriers, Harvey Anderson, Frank E. Craft, Charles Heitzman, Clyde DeWeese, William Shipley, John P. Wood. The Piqua Post Office is situated in the Conover Building and is one of the best appointed offices in the county.

The present efficient Department of Piqua is the outgrowth of the one organized in 1843. At that time, as recalled by Capt. F.A. Hardy, who is one of the surviving firemen of the old days, the equipment consisted of an engine called "The Old Row Boat," which was very primitive in build and operation. The firemen were seated on the top of the machine in two lines with their feet placed together, pulling on the brakes as though they were rowing a boat." A "bucket brigade" worked in conjunction with the old fire service, and the old leather buckets used by the men were laboriously but effectively handled on many occasions.

The city government of today has the following roster: Mayor, J.C. Hughes; president of council, J.H. Clark; auditor, Bert A. Reed; treasurer, George H. Rundel; solicitor, E.M Bell. Members of Council-John E. Anderson, A.M. Bowdell, George M. Peffer, Conrad Kalbfleisch, Michael Kerrigan, A.J. Licklider, Anson Mote; board of public service-Bland S. Levering, John G. Hagan, W.F. Robbins; board of public safety-W.K. Leonard, Dr. J.W. Prince; board of review- William Suff, Otto Simon; sinking fund and tax commissioners-Albion Thomas, John H. Young, W.L. Catterlin, George W. Berry; board of health-Dr. R.M. Shannon, W.W. Buchanan, W.T. Caldwell, Dr. J.H. Lowe, H.T. Dettman; board of education-Oscar Fisher, Dr. W.J. Prince, Charles C. Jelleff, Mrs. Frances Orr, E.P. Brotherton, Otto VonBargen; chief of police, Frank Gehle; chief of fire department, P.J. Canlfield; city engineer, H.E. Whitlock.

In other chapters will be found mention of the banks, schools, churches, the press, fraternal orders and the several industries of the city. I realize that the present chapter does not fully cover the history of the City of Piqua, but its salient features have been given with all the accuracy attainable and is thus submitted to the reader. For a city that came out of the backwoods a century ago, Piqua has made a commendable growth in all lines, reaching out every direction, having within her borders handsome public libraries, a complete Memorial Hospital, commodious banks, churches, school, and other public institutions. It does not require the wisdom of a seer to predict still further advancement nor to place the "Border City" on the banks of the Miami in the front rank of the growing municipalities of the Union. Piqua has a fame distinctly her own.

End of Chapter 9
1909 History of Miami County Ohio,
by Thomas Harbaugh

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