Bio Sketch: Thomas Dover (1829-1881), druggist in Dayton, Ohio

Thomas Dover (1829-1881) was born February 24, 1829, in a log cabin five miles north of Dayton, on the Old Troy Road (now OH-202), though the family removed to Dayton in the early spring of 1839. Thomas was the son of Henrietta Maria Van Cleve (daughter of Benjamin Van Cleve) and Samuel Best Dover; Thomas was a nephew of John W. Van Cleve, who was his mother’s brother.

The other children of Samuel B. and Henrietta Van Cleve Dover were: Mary Ann Dover (1825-1903), who married Jacob Andrew Drill; Robert Best Dover (1827-1841), who died as a teenager; Henrietta Sophia Dover (1830-1911), who married Silas M. B. Simpson; Phoebe Maria Dover (1833-1876), who married Emory B. Belden; and Serah Greenham Dover (1836-1879), who married Ebenezer S. Allan.

As a young man, Thomas learned the drug trade at the firm Van Cleve & Newell, with his uncle John W. Van Cleve . Thomas was with Van Cleve & Newell from 1843 until 1847, when after a bout with typhoid and a trip to Rising Sun, Indiana, he came home to find himself out of a job there.

From 1851 until about 1862, Thomas worked for several druggists in Dayton, Ohio, as well as in Centerville, Indiana, and Muscatine, Iowa. He also worked with his father in the gas pipefitting business, as well as planting peach trees on his uncle John Van Cleve’s farm. In the spring of 1862, Thomas purchased a tract of land at the corner of Fifth Street andWayne Avenue in Dayton and opened his own drug store, which he operated until his death.

Drug Store and Residence of Thomas Dover, southeast corner Fifth and Wayne

Drug Store and Residence of Thomas Dover, southeast corner Fifth and Wayne, Dayton, Ohio

Thomas Dover married Louisa Jane Donavan on July 2, 1857, in Springfield, Ohio; Louisa had been born May 13, 1836, in Springfield. Thomas and Louisa had five children: Robert Fay Dover (1858-1897), who married Jennie Lehman; Samuel B. Dover (1860-1928), who married Clara Rice; Anna Maria Dover (1863-1942), who married Edwin E. McKnight; John James Dover (1865-1944), who married Bertha _____; and Harry Thomas Dover (1870-1877).

Thomas Dover died April 21, 1881, being killed instantly upon falling from a stepladder in his drug store. He was buried inWoodland Cemetery, Dayton. His wife, Louisa, died March 5, 1896, in Dayton, and was also buried in Woodland.

Tombstone of Thomas Dover in Woodland Cemetery

Tombstone of Thomas Dover in Woodland Cemetery


This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey and Jared Baldwin in April 2010 for the Van Cleve-Dover Collection (MS-006) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654. Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection and in the citations below. Please contact the library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.

As an addition to the finding aid, it is interesting to note that Thomas Dover’s sons were active in the Stillwater Canoe Club and can be seen in several photos of the club in the Dayton Metro Library’s photo collection.



Drury, Augustus Waldo. History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago; Dayton: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1909. Vol. 2, pp. 1074; Vol. 1, pp. 93-94. [Dayton 977.173 D796]

Edgar, John F. Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840. Evansville,IN: Unigraphic, 1976. Pp. 32; 179. [Dayton 977.173 E23P 1976]

History of Dayton, Ohio. Dayton: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889. Pp. 179; 287. [Dayton 977.173 H673]

The History of Montgomery County, Ohio. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1882. Book 2, p. 273. Book 3, p. 83. [Dayton 977.172 H673]

Steele, Robert W., and Mary Davies Steele. Early Dayton. Dayton: W. J. Shuey, 1896. Pp. 58; 169. [Dayton 977.173 S814E 1896]

Obituary of Thomas Dover, Dayton Daily Journal, April 22, 1881, page 4.

See also: Thomas Dover’s brief biography in Notebook 22 of the Van Cleve-Dover Collection.

One response to “Bio Sketch: Thomas Dover (1829-1881), druggist in Dayton, Ohio

  1. Pingback: Be the change you want to see on the web | Glancing Backwards

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