Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bio Sketch: Mary & Laura Thresher, youngest daughters of Ebenezer Thresher

Ebenezer Thresher and his second wife Martha Wilson (Henderson) Snyder Thresher had two children, both of whom were born in Dayton, Ohio:

  1. Mary Martha Thresher (born Jan. 3, 1865; died May 28, 1947), who in 1903 married Frederick Phillip Beaver (1845-1936) and had no children; and
  2. Laura Henderson Thresher (born Aug. 26, 1867; died Nov. 19, 1951), who in 1900 married Benjamin Franklin McCann and had four children.
Laura and Mary Thresher, June 1880

Laura Thresher (left, age almost 13) and Mary Thresher (age 15), June 1880 (Dayton Metro Library, Thresher-McCann Collection, photo #0026)

Both Mary and Laura Thresher graduated from Cooper Academy in Dayton on June 13, 1884. Less than two weeks later, their mother Martha died. Two years after that, their father Ebenezer died; Mary was 21, and Laura was 18.[1]

Cooper Female Academy, undated

Cooper Female Academy, undated (Dayton Metro Library, Lutzenberger Photograph Collection, photo # 0055)

After graduating from Cooper Academy, Mary and Laura furthered their educations in Boston, Massachusetts, where Laura studied piano, and Mary attended Radcliffe College.[2]

Both Laura and Mary were founding members of the Woman’s Literary Club in 1889. Laura was also an early member of Dayton’s Mozart Club, which was founded in 1888; she served as secretary from 1891-1892.[3]

Homes on Robert Boulevard, undated

Homes on Robert Boulevard, undated (Dayton Metro Library, Local History Postcard # 1381)

In the early 1890s, Mary and Laura had a large home built at 315 N. Robert Boulevard. (Two of their brothers-in-law, E. R. Stilwell and Henry M. Robert had been instrumental in the success of the Robert Boulevard project.) [A photo of the house can be found in the Dayton Journal Herald, July 23, 1960, pg. 1.] This home eventually passed to Laura’s daughter Eleanor, who lived there until 1964, when the house was demolished along with many others.[4]

Laura and Mary Thresher in Europe, 1892

Laura Thresher (back) and Mary Thresher (center) in Europe, with an unidentified woman, 1892 (Dayton Metro Library, Thresher-McCann Collection, photo #0037-A)

Also in the 1890s, Mary and Laura traveled to Europe together at least twice, once in 1892, and once in 1898-1899.[5]

Both Mary and Laura were in their thirties before they married.

***

Mary M. Thresher & Frederick P. Beaver

Mary M. Thresher married at age 38. On February 16, 1903, in Montgomery County, Ohio, she wed Frederick Phillip Beaver, age 57, the president of the Beaver Soap Company.[6]

Frederick P. Beaver was born November 19, 1845, in Dayton, Ohio, a son of John N. F. Beaver and Caroline (Snyder) Beaver. (His mother was the sister of Rev. Frederick Snyder, mentioned earlier.) He was educated in Dayton schools.[7]

In May 1864, at the age of 18, Frederick enlisted in the Civil War, serving in the 131st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, alongside John H. Patterson.[8]

Frederick was involved in a few different businesses over the years: as a bookkeeper with the Dayton firm Chamberlain & Parker; with the firm Brownell, Orr, & Co., which operated a planing mill in Hopkinsville, Kentucky; with Dayton furniture dealers Chadwick & Sweet; and as organizer of the Silver Star baking powder business.[9]

In 1879, Frederick P. Beaver established what would eventually be known as the Beaver Soap Company, under which name the company was ultimately incorporated in September 1893, with Frederick as president. About 1906, Frederick P. Beaver apparently retired as president of the Beaver Soap Company, at which time vice president W. D. Chamberlin became president.[10]

In 1898, Frederick had the Beaver Power Building constructed on the northwest corner of Fourth and St. Clair streets in Dayton. The Delco Company began manufacturing automobile self-starters in the building around 1912.[11]

On November 29, 1893, Frederick P. Beaver married Emma J. Thompson. She died on January 4, 1901, leaving no children.[12]

On February 16, 1903, F. P. Beaver and Mary M. Thresher were married. Both were members of the First Baptist Church. The couple resided at 127 N. Perry Street (northeast corner of Second and Perry). They had no children.[13]

Home of F. P. and Mary Beaver (left), corner of Second and Perry streets

Home of F. P. and Mary Beaver (left), corner of Second and Perry streets (Dayton Metro Library, Lutzenberger Photograph Collection, photo # 0547)

Frederick P. Beaver died on January 4, 1936, in Dayton, Ohio. He was buried January 6, 1936, in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[14]

Mary (Thresher) Beaver lived 11 more years. She was active in many organizations, including the Dayton Art Institute, Widows’ Home, YMCA, and Woman’s Literary Club. She was also a generous supporter of groups such as the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Miami Valley Hospital, and others. She was active in the First Baptist Church, including teaching the Women’s Bible Class, as well as the business and professional class, and contributed towards a new wing at the church as well as towards the modernization of the church organ. She was also among the first presidents of the East Central districts, a division of the Northern Baptist Convention’s women’s organization.[15]

Mary Martha (Thresher) Beaver died on May 28, 1947, at her home at 127 N. Perry Street in Dayton, Ohio. She was buried May 31, 1947, in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[16]

Beaver family plot in Woodland Cemetery

Beaver family plot in Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 3 June 2012)

***

Laura H. Thresher & Benjamin F. McCann

Laura H. Thresher married at age 32. On January 11, 1900, in Montgomery County, Ohio, she wed Benjamin Franklin McCann, age 38, the county probate judge.[17]

Benjamin F. McCann was born January 22, 1861, in Dresden, Muskingum County, Ohio, a son of Thomas A. and Jane (McKee) McCann. He attended public schools in his hometown and then attended Denison University, where he was a noted scholar and athlete. Benjamin traveled in Europe following graduation. Then, about 1888, he came to Dayton and studied law under Gunckel & Rowe, while boarding at the YMCA. He was admitted to the bar in June 1890.[18]

In 1891, Benjamin became the first police prosecutor in Dayton. In 1899, he was elected probate judge and served two terms, declining a third term in 1906 to return to his law practice. He later served one term as a juvenile court judge.[19]

As a young Dayton lawyer, Benjamin was one of the chief prosecuting attorneys in the famous 1896 trial of Albert Frantz, who was convicted in 1896 for the murder of Bessie Little. Benjamin later represented Edward A. Deeds and Charles F. Kettering with respect to their automobile self-starter and Delco Light manufactures.[20]

In addition to his law practice in the firm of McCann & Whelan, Benjamin McCann taught a Bible class at First Baptist Church, was active in YMCA activities, and served as a trustee of Denison University and Ohio State University.[21]

Benjamin F. McCann died November 29, 1924, in Dayton, Ohio, as a result of a cold contracted the previous week while attending a trustees meeting and college football game at Denison University. He was buried December 1, 1924, in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[22]

Laura (Thresher) McCann lived nearly 27 years after her husband’s death. For many years, she taught the Philathea class for girls (later known as the Louisa May Alcott Club) at First Baptist Church.[23]

Laura Henderson (Thresher) McCann died November 19, 1951, at her home at 315 N. Robert Boulevard, in Dayton, Ohio. She was buried on November 21, 1951, in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[24]

McCann family plot in Woodland Cemetery

McCann family plot in Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 3 June 2012)

Benjamin F. and Laura (Thresher) McCann had four children, all of whom were born in Dayton, Ohio:

  1. Ruth McCann (born August 1902; died Sept. 5, 1902)[25];
  2. Franklin Thresher McCann (born Oct. 19, 1903; died Apr. 8, 1969), who taught at the Alabama Institute of Techology[26];
  3. Alice B. McCann (born Nov. 22, 1904; died Apr. 7, 1997), who married Harold A. James and lived in Toledo, Ohio[27]; and
  4. Eleanor Colby McCann (born Oct. 16, 1907; died Mar. 6, 2004), who was unmarried and was a music teacher in Dayton for many years.[28]

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in July 2012 for the Thresher-McCann Collection (MS-036) 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. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original paper finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.


[1] Mary Thresher’s Cooper Female Academy certificate, 13 June 1884, Thresher-McCann Collection (hereafter cited as TMC), 2:4, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio); Cooper Academy commencement invitation, June 1884, 4:7, TMC.

[2] “Mrs. Mary Beaver dies at Residence,” Dayton Daily News, 28 May 1947; “Mrs. McCann, Dayton Social Leader, Dies,” Dayton Journal Herald, 20 Nov. 1951.

Mary’s obituary states that she attended Radcliffe College in Boston. However, the Radcliffe College archives was unable to find any information to confirm that Mary Thresher (or Laura Thresher) ever attended the college (email correspondence from Sarah Hutcheon, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, to Lisa Rickey, 31 May & 7 June 2012).

[3] “Mrs. McCann…Dies”; Woman’s Literary Club, Minutes (Dayton, OH: Woman’s Literary Club, 1889), 7; Woman’s Literary Club, Club Year Book 1889 (Dayton, OH: Woman’s Literary Club, 1889), 10; Souvenir, 1893, Mozart Club, Dayton, Ohio (Dayton, OH: Mozart Club, 1893), 11.

[4] “Mrs. McCann…Dies”; Margaret Ann Ahlers, “The Story of Robert Boulevard,” Dayton Journal-Herald, 23 July 1960, accessed 24 May 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/the_story_of_robert_blvd.html; Jeanne D. Walters, “Roads—Robert Blvd,” Dayton Journal-Herald, July 1978, accessed 24 May 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/roads__robert_blvd.html.

[5] See TMC, Series I, Subseries 4: European Trips.

[6] Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 23 May 2012, http://www.familysearch.org.

[7] Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 2:226-227.

[8] Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 2:227; Montgomery County Picture File, Dayton Metro Library, photographs # 1428, 1429, 2352.

[9] Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 2:227.

[10] Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 2:227-228; Dayton City Directories; Beaver Soap Company, [Official Records of Beaver Soap Company], Dayton Metro Library (Dayton Collection, call number 338.7668 B386O 1893/1927).

[11] Dayton Metro Library postcard collection, postcard # 1143; Photograph “Construction of Power Building, 4th and St. Clair. F. P. Beaver,” TMC, Photographs #0001-0002, 5:3.

[12] Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 2:228; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 29 Jan. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[13] Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 23 May 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 2:228; “Mrs. Mary Beaver Dies at Residence.”

[14] Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 29 May 2012, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[15] “Mrs. Mary Beaver Dies at Residence.”

[16] “Mrs. Mary Beaver Dies at Residence”; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 29 May 2012, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[17] Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 4 Feb. 2011, http://www.familysearch.org.

[18] Dayton City Directories, 1888-1924; U.S. Federal Census, 1870-1920; “Funeral Rites for Prominent Judge Tomorrow,” Dayton Daily Journal, 30 Nov. 1924.

[19] Roz Young, “Poor Albert Frantz,” Dayton Daily News, 6 Oct. 1990, accessed 29 May 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/pooralbertfrantz.html; “Funeral Rites for Prominent Judge Tomorrow.”

[20] Roz Young, “Poor Albert Frantz,” Dayton Daily News, 6 Oct. 1990, accessed 29 May 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/pooralbertfrantz.html; “Funeral Rites for Prominent Judge Tomorrow.”

[21] “Funeral Rites for Prominent Judge Tomorrow.”

[22] “Funeral Rites for Prominent Judge Tomorrow”; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 29 Jan. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[23] “Mrs. McCann…Dies.”

[24] “Mrs. McCann…Dies”; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 29 Jan. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[25] Death notice of Ruth McCann, Dayton Daily Journal, 6 Sept. 1902; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 27 Sept. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[26] “Mrs. McCann…Dies”; U.S. Federal Census, 1910; Social Security Death Index; World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 (database), Ancestry Library Edition; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 27 Sept. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[27] “Mrs. McCann…Dies”; U.S. Federal Census, 1910-1930; Ohio Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-1944, and 1958-2007 (database), Ancestry Library Edition.

[28] “Mrs. McCann…Dies”; Ahlers, “The Story of Robert Boulevard.”

Bio Sketch: Ebenezer Thresher (1798-1886), Baptist minister and manufacturer

Ebenezer Thresher was born August 31, 1798, in Stafford, Connecticut, the ninth of the twelve children born to Ebenezer Thresher (about 1756-1832) and Hannah Blodgett (1762-about 1840).[1]

Ebenezer Thresher (1798-1886)

Ebenezer Thresher (1798-1886) (Dayton Metro Library, Montgomery County Picture File # 1726)

Ebenezer’s father, a farmer, failed in health in his early 50s. Ebenezer’s older brothers sought work outside the home to support the family; meanwhile, 12-year-old Ebenezer and his sisters were left to care for the farm.[2]

Ebenezer was promised that when he reached 18 years of age, he would be released from his family obligations and be permitted to set out on his own. In the winter of 1817, as he was preparing to leave home, he had a religious conversion. He was baptized in March 1817 at the Stafford Baptist Church [see current photo of the church], of which his mother was a member. He then decided to remain close to home for another year, to save money for a formal education.[3]

In the early spring of 1818, Ebenezer obtained better-paying employment in New Haven, walking the 60 miles on foot, over the course of two days, to reach the city. He first worked as a farm hand for one employer; he then later cared for the garden, carriages, and horses of another. While in New Haven, he was involved with the Baptist church there.[4]

By April 1820, Ebenezer had accumulated a few hundred dollars to put towards his education. He traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, to seek the instruction of Baptist minister Rev. Jonathan Going, who received his new student genially. However, as Ebenezer soon found Going to be “a good adviser but a poor teacher,” he moved to Bellingham, Massachusetts, to study with Baptist minister Rev. Abiel Fisher.[5]

In the spring of 1821, Ebenezer entered Amherst Academy (which became Amherst College later that same year) at Amherst, Massachusetts. One of his classmates at Amherst (and later at Brown also) was John Pratt, who was later the first president of the Granville Literary and Theological Institution (now Denison University).[6]

In 1823, Ebenezer Thresher was granted a license to preach by the Stafford Baptist Church in his home town of Stafford, Connecticut.[7]

In January 1824, Ebenezer entered the freshman class at Columbian College (now George Washington University) in Washington, D.C., which was under the direction of its founder Luther Rice, a leader in the Baptist foreign missionary movement.[8] Ebenezer explained his decision to pursue an education outside New England in the following way:

Two considerations influenced me more particularly in selecting this as the place of my future studies. One was the prospect of procuring there some pecuniary assistance. The other was an opportunity of obtaining a better knowledge of the world and of the forms and usages of society, in which I knew myself to be sadly deficient.[9]

In 1826, Columbian College suffered some significant financial embarrassments, and many students, including Ebenezer Thresher, decided to continue their educations elsewhere.

Ebenezer Thresher's certificate of conduct at Columbian College, 1826

Ebenezer Thresher’s certificate of conduct at Columbian College, 1826 (Dayton Metro Library, Thresher-McCann Collection, 1:6)

Ebenezer sought and was granted admission to the junior class at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, in June 1826. Ebenezer Thresher graduated from Brown in 1827, as a member of the first class to be taught by Francis Wayland. He remained at Brown for another year of post-graduate study.[10]

On September 13, 1827, in New York City, Ebenezer Thresher married Elizabeth Fenner. Elizabeth was born in Canterbury, England, about 1804, but immigrated with her father to Poughkeepsie, New York, as a small child. Ebenezer first met Elizabeth while he was a student at Columbian College: she was a teacher at a mission school of which he was superintendent. They became engaged in the summer of 1826, when she was visiting Providence.[11]

In the fall of 1828, Ebenezer Thresher became the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Portland, Maine. He had been licensed to preach in 1823, and on December 18, 1828, he was ordained in Portland. This, his first and only pastorate, was short-lived (only 15 months), as his health and voice began failing him, partly due to the climate. On March 14, 1830, Ebenezer offered his resignation, which was accepted.[12]

On May 26, 1830, Ebenezer Thresher was elected corresponding secretary of the newly-formed Northern Baptist Education Society, an organization providing financial assistance to students of the ministry.[13] Ebenezer gladly accepted this appointment:

The conviction that I must give up, on account of my ill health, the hope of spending my life in pastoral service was the overturning of all my long-cherished plans, the relinquishment of a service which I consider the most desirable and the most exalted with which a mortal can be entrusted. I cheerfully accepted the appointment of the Education Society as near akin to the pastorate, inasmuch as it would prepare others more acceptably to preach the Gospel…[14]

Therefore, in 1830, Ebenezer Thresher and his family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where the Northern Baptist Education Society was based. Ebenezer remained in this position for fifteen years, traveling to Baptist churches throughout New England during the course of this occupation, until 1845.[15]

During the same time frame as his work with the Northern Baptist Education Society, Ebenezer Thresher aided the Baptist religion in a number of other ways as well. Ebenezer edited The American Baptist Magazine from 1831 to 1832 and The Christian Watchman from 1834 to 1836. He was a delegate to the Baptist Triennial Convention in 1835 and afterward. He raised $20,000 for the Newton Theological Institution (in Newton Centre, Newton, Massachusetts), served as one of its trustees from 1836 to 1843, and was its treasurer in 1843. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Brown University from 1842 to 1848.[16]

Ebenezer Thresher’s health continued to decline over the years. By 1845, his doctors thought it unlikely that he could survive another year in the New England climate, but they suggested that a change in climate might preserve him. (He was, at that time, about 46 years old.) Therefore, he decided to visit Ohio, where one of his older brothers had removed several years earlier, with an interest in making it his permanent home.[17]

In the summer of 1845, Ebenezer Thresher traveled to Maryland, where he boarded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, bound for Cincinnati, where he visited his friend R. E. Pattison in nearby Covington, Kentucky. Someone apparently suggested that Ebenezer should visit Dayton, so he boarded a canal boat on the Miami Canal, bound for Dayton. During this journey, he encountered Samuel Forrer, who had been the principle engineer on the Miami Canal and was then a member of the Board of Public Works. Forrer lived in Dayton and gave Ebenezer a positive impression of the city, and so Ebenezer Thresher decided to locate there.[18]

Upon settling in Dayton, Ebenezer Thresher joined the First Baptist Church, whose pastor was Frederick Snyder. One of the church members was Eliam E. Barney, who owned a saw mill on Wayne Avenue. Barney wished to sell the saw mill so that he could become principal at the newly founded Cooper Female Seminary; Ebenezer purchased the saw mill in the hopes that working in the fresh air would improve his health. Ebenezer then took up residence on Jefferson Street, across from Market, and brought the rest of his family from Massachusetts to Ohio, by way of Buffalo and the newly completed Miami-Erie Canal. Whether due to the climate, the saw mill work, or something else, Ebenezer Thresher’s health did improve significantly within a few years. He lived in Dayton for more than 40 years.[19]

By about 1849, Ebenezer Thresher had retired from the saw mill, and Eliam E. Barney was considering retiring from teaching. Ebenezer had purchased some land on the northeastern edge of the city near Keowee and Monument streets, and the two men decided to form a co-partnership in manufacturing, with a capital of $10,000. After Ebenezer returned from a trip East, it was determined the company should manufacture railroad cars, despite the fact that no railroads to Dayton had yet been finished at that time. (The first completed railroad car had to be shipped by canal boat.)[20]

[Ebenezer’s] old friends in the East had reason to be surprised when he, to whom they had bidden good-bye as to an invalid preacher, again appeared among them engaging skilled mechanics to go west to build cars in a place where there was scarcely a railroad.[21]

The original name of the company was “Thresher, Packard, & Company,” with Packard being an investor from the East, and Barney being a silent partner at first, since he was still obligated to the Cooper Female Seminary for a year longer. In 1850, Packard retired from the company, Barney became an active partner, and the name of the company became “E. Thresher & Company.”[22]

By about 1855, Ebenezer Thresher’s health was again failing, and so he sold out his interest in the railroad car manufacturing company and permanently retired from it. The company changed owners and names a few more times before becoming, in 1865, the “Barney and Smith Manufacturing Company,” the name by which it is best known. The company continued for many years after Ebenezer Thresher’s retirement.[23]

Barney and Smith Car Company in 1889

Barney and Smith Car Company in 1889 (Dayton Metro Library, Lutzenberger Photograph Collection, Photo # 401)

In about 1858, Ebenezer Thresher established, along with Charles F. Tower and his nephew J. B. Thresher, the Thresher Varnish Company. (Later on, Ebenezer’s son Ebenezer M. Thresher and nephew Albert Thresher were added to the company.) Tower was one of the manufacturing men who had come from the East to work at Thresher’s railroad car manufacturing company and had been in charge of the paint shop. At the time, there were only two other such varnish companies west of the Allegheny Mountains. The firm quickly found its products to be in high demand, due to the ever-expanding railroads of the west. Ebenezer Thresher retired from the varnish business on January 1, 1874, at the age of 75 years, and this company also continued for many years without him.[24]

On August 26, 1860, Ebenezer Thresher’s wife Elizabeth (Fenner) Thresher died.[25]

On December 5, 1861, Ebenezer married Martha Wilson (Henderson) Snyder, the widow of the Baptist minister Frederick Snyder, who had died in 1853. Martha was born in April 1823 in Dayton, and she had three surviving children with Rev. Snyder: Elizabeth, Charles, and Harriet.[26]

Sometime before his final retirement from business, Ebenezer Thresher built himself a fine new residence on the southwest corner of First and Main streets, two doors from the First Baptist Church. He lived the rest of his life there.[27]

Home of Ebenezer Thresher

Home of Ebenezer Thresher, southwest corner of Main and First, Dayton, Ohio (Dayton Metro Library, Montgomery County Picture File # 1633)

Ebenezer Thresher had a deep interest in Denison University, a Baptist-affiliated college in Granville, Ohio. He made generous financial contributions to the school over the years. In 1857, he was made a Trustee of the university. In 1875, Denison University conferred upon him an honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) degree.[28]

Ebenezer Thresher's signature, 1880

Ebenezer Thresher’s signature, 1880 (Dayton Metro Library, Thresher-McCann Collection, 1:1)

Ebenezer Thresher did not write much correspondence, but he wrote many articles for the religious press, even after reaching 80 years of age:

His contributions to the Journal and Messenger would make a very large volume… His outspoken opinions could not please all, but the historical information and sober judgments which the articles contain make many of them permanently useful. Those who knew the age of the writer wondered at the evidence they gave of the prolonged vitality and acumen of his mental powers…[29]

Ebenezer’s second wife Martha died after a brief illness on June 25, 1884, less than two weeks after the couple’s two daughters had graduated from Cooper Academy.[30]

Despite his poor health in middle age, Ebenezer Thresher lived to be 87 years old, and maintained most of his physical and mental faculties until the end. On January 12, 1886, he suddenly became ill and died later that same day. His obituary described it thusly:

The death of Ebenezer Thresher. It occurred yesterday morning [Jan. 12, 1886] at his home on the corner of First and Main Streets. He had been upon the streets the day before, and had risen in the morning apparently in his usual health, but while talking with his daughter in his library he was suddenly stricken with paralysis, almost immediately became unconscious, and, after two or three hours, quietly breathed his last.[31]

Ebenezer Thresher was buried on January 14, 1886, in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio, next to his wives.[32]

Tombstone of Ebenezer Thresher in Woodland Cemetery

Tombstone of Ebenezer Thresher in Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

.

Headstone of Ebenezer Thresher in Woodland Cemetery

Headstone of Ebenezer Thresher in Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

Ebenezer Thresher and his first wife Elizabeth (Fenner) Thresher had at least six children, all of whom were born in the Boston, Massachusetts, area, except the eldest, who was born in Portland, Maine:

  1. Elizabeth Thresher (born 1829; died Feb. 29, 1852);
  2. Thomas F. Thresher (born Jan. 1831; died Dec. 10, 1907), who married Susan A. Gotlieb (1835-?) and had three children;
  3. Sarah N. Thresher (born about Feb. 1833; died Apr. 1, 1880), the third wife of Charles Henry Crawford (1820-1887), with whom she had at least two children;
  4. Mary Louise Thresher (born about Sept. 1835; died Aug. 30, 1861), the first wife of Edwin R. Stilwell (1828-1902), with whom she had at least one child;
  5. Helen M. Thresher (born Apr. 3, 1837; died Oct. 10, 1895), who married Gen. Henry M. Robert (1837-1923) and had at least four children; and
  6. Ebenezer M. Thresher (born Apr. 23, 1842; died Apr. 28, 1913), who married Lydia R. Bliss (1845-1919) and had two children.

Martha Wilson (Henderson) Snyder Thresher and her first husband Frederick Snyder (ca. 1818-1853) had three surviving children:

  1. Elizabeth A. Snyder (born Oct. 1843; died Jan. 15, 1908), the second wife of Edwin R. Stilwell (1828-1902), with whom she had at least five children;
  2. Charles Frederick Snyder (born Dec. 21, 1848; died May 6, 1925), who married Mary L. Cooper and had at least two children; and
  3. Harriet A. Snyder (born Nov. 1851; died June 29, 1925), who married Robert Newton King (1845-1942) and had two children.

Ebenezer Thresher and his second wife Martha Wilson (Henderson) Snyder Thresher had two children, both of whom were born in Dayton, Ohio:

  1. Mary Martha Thresher (born Jan. 3, 1865; died May 28, 1947), who in 1903 married Frederick Phillip Beaver (1845-1936) and had no children; and
  2. Laura Henderson Thresher (born Aug. 26, 1867; died Nov. 19, 1951), who in 1900 married Benjamin Franklin McCann and had four children.

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in July 2012 for the Thresher-McCann Collection (MS-036) 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. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original paper finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.


[1] Henry F. Colby, A Tribute to the Memory of Ebenezer Thresher (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1886), 3; Augustus W. Drury, History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio (Chicago: Clarke Publishing Co., 1909), 1:613; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher,” Dayton Daily News, 13 Jan. 1886, 3.

[2] Colby, 4.

[3] Colby, 4-9; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher”; Historical Souvenir of the Stafford Baptist Church ([Stafford, CT: Stafford Baptist Church], 1909), 13, Thresher-McCann Collection (hereafter cited as TMC), 4:14, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).

[4] Colby, 9-11.

[5] Colby, 11-18; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.” In 1831, Rev. Jonathan Going was one of those associated with the founding of the Granville Literary and Theological Institution, later known as Granville College and now as Denison University. Colby speculated that Thresher’s fondness for Going influenced his later fondness for Granville College.

[6] Colby, 18-20, 30.

[7] Historical Souvenir of the Stafford Baptist Church, 13; Colby, 35.

[8] Colby, 20-28.

[9] Ebenezer Thresher’s memoirs, quoted in Colby, 20.

[10] Colby, 28-32.

[11] Colby, 28-32-33.

[12] Colby, 35-39; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher”; Historical Souvenir of the Stafford Baptist Church, 13.

[13] Colby, 41-43; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher”; Historical Souvenir of the Stafford Baptist Church, 13.

[14] Ebenezer Thresher’s memoirs, quoted in Colby, 43.

[15] Colby, 41-57; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.”

[16] Colby, 57-66; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.”

[17] Colby, 66-67; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.”

[18] Colby, 67-68; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 1:613, 2:557.

[19] Colby, 68-69; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 1:613; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.”

[20] Colby, 73; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 1:613.

[21] Colby, 73.

[22] Colby, 73; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 1:613-614.

[23] Colby, 73-75; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 1:613-614.

[24] Colby, 74-75; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 1:613, 1:618-619.

[25] Colby, 76; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 29 Jan. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org;

[26] Colby, 76; Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 4 Feb. 2011, http://www.familysearch.org.

[27] Colby, 84; Montgomery County Picture File, photo #1633, Dayton Metro Library.

About 1894, Peter JoHantgen purchased the Thresher house, which he had disassembled and then rebuilt on the southwest corner of Third Street and Robert Boulevard. The southwest corner of First and Main was later the site of the Dayton City Club Building, which was razed in 1925, and the Harries Building was built on the site (Martin J. Kelly, “The Levee and Robert’s Fill,” 18 Mar. 1969, accessed 24 May 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/the_levee_and_robert_blvd.html; Lutzenberger Picture Collection, photo #0221, Dayton Metro Library).

Southwest corner of First and Main (2012)

Southwest corner of First and Main (Photo by the author, 3 June 2012)

[28] Colby, 76-82; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.”

[29] Colby, 86-87.

[30] Colby, 87-88; Cooper Academy certificates and materials, Thresher-McCann Collection.

[31] “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.”

[32] Colby, 88-93; “Death of Ebenezer Thresher”; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 29 Jan. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

Bio Sketch: Maj. David Zeigler (1748-1811), pioneer & first mayor of Cincinnati,Ohio

David Zeigler was born Johann David Zeigler or Ziegler on July 13, 1748, in Heidelberg, Germany, the son of Johann Heinrich Zeigler and Louise Friederika Kern. He served in the armies of Friedrich der Grosse of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia before immigrating to the American colonies about 1774 or 1775.[1]

David Zeigler, undated (Dayton Metro Library, FPW 39:7)

David Zeigler, undated (Dayton Metro Library, FPW 39:7)

David settled in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and after the Battle of Lexington in 1775, he joined William Thompson’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion. In 1776, Thompson’s regiment was reorganized as the First Regiment, Continental Infantry, and David was commissioned a second lieutenant. He participated in many battles, including the Battle of Long Island (August 27, 1776), in which he was wounded. In 1778, David was promoted to captain in the First Pennsylvania Regiment. He was mustered out of the army in 1783 and returned to Carlisle, where he opened a grocery store.[2]

In 1784, David was appointed a captain in the regular army under Josiah Harmar, and from 1784 to 1790, he served at several forts on the frontier, including Fort Washington at Cincinnati. He participated in the protection of federal surveyors and the negotiation of treaties with Native Americans. David was promoted to major in 1790. He was with Arthur St. Clair at his defeat in 1791, and David was left in charge of Fort Washington when St. Clair returned east. David resigned from the army in March 1792.[3]

Fort Washington (Cincinnati), ca. 1790 (Library of Congress, image # LC-USZC4-403, public domain)

Fort Washington (Cincinnati), ca. 1790 (Library of Congress, image # LC-USZC4-403, public domain)

On February 22, 1789, at Fort Harmar in Marietta, Ohio, David Zeigler married Lucy Anne Sheffield. Lucy Anne, often called Lucianna, was born December 22, 1761, in Jamestown, Rhode Island, a daughter of Benjamin and Hannah Sheffield. Two other children of Benjamin and Hannah Sheffield were: Phebe Sheffield (1754-?), who married Charles Greene (1753-?), and Mary Sheffield (1757-?), who married Isaac Peirce (1749-1821). Therefore, the following individuals were included among the nieces and nephews of David and Lucianna Zeigler: Joseph Peirce, Phebe (Peirce) Steele (and by extension James Steele), Charles Russell Greene, Sophia (Greene) Burnet Cooper Loury (and by extension Daniel C. Cooper). David and Lucianna Zeigler did not have any surviving children of their own.[4]

After his retirement from the army in 1792, David Zeigler purchased and farmed a piece of land about four miles from downtown Cincinnati. Then, in 1797, he sold the farm to John Smith and removed downtown, opening a store on Front Street, east of Sycamore. Also in 1797, he was appointed the Supervisor of Cincinnati Township Highways.[5]

Signature of David Zeigler from a letter to Winthrop Sargent, 10 Nov. 1803 (Dayton Metro Library, FPW 39:7)

Signature of David Zeigler from a letter to Winthrop Sargent, 10 Nov. 1803 (Dayton Metro Library, FPW 39:7)

Cincinnati was incorporated in 1802, and at that time David Zeigler was elected as the president of the town council and chief magistrate, making him effectively the first mayor of Cincinnati. He served two terms in that capacity and might have served a third, but he declined the position in 1804. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson appointed David as first Marshal of the Ohio District. David served as Adjutant General of Ohio in 1807. And in 1809, he was made Surveyor of the Port of Cincinnati and served in that capacity until his death.[6]

David Zeigler died on September 24, 1811, in Cincinnati, Ohio. After his death, his wife Lucianna removed to Dayton to be near her nieces and nephews in the Peirce, Steele, and Greene families. Lucy Anne (Sheffield) Zeigler died November 18, 1820, in Dayton, Ohio. The remains of both David and Lucianna Zeigler were eventually buried together in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[7]

Tombstone of David Zeigler in Woodland Cemetery (photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

Tombstone of David Zeigler in Woodland Cemetery (photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in April 2012 for the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018) 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. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original PDF finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry, or the WorldCat record.

Please contact the Dayton Metro Library or this blog’s author for more information about how to access the original finding aid or the manuscript collection.


[1] George A. Katzenberger, Major David Ziegler (Columbus, OH: The F. J. Heer Printing Co., 1912), 4-5; Don Heinrich Tolzmann, The First Mayor of Cincinnati: George A. Katzenberger’s Biography of Major David Ziegler (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990), xiii, 55-56; Nancy R. Horlacher, The Major David Zeigler Papers, 1791-1822 (Dayton, OH: Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1998), iv.

[2] Horlacher, iv; Katzenberger, 5-18; Tolzmann, xiii, 54.

[3] Tolzmann, xiii-xiv, 54-55; Horlacher, iv; Katzenberger, 19-32.

[4] “Jamestown Births and Deaths,” in James N. Arnold, Vital Records of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, First series: Births, Marriages, and Deaths (Providence, RI: Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1891), 26; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[5] Katzenberger, 33-34; Tolzmann, xiv; Horlacher, iv.

[6] Katzenberger, 35-43; Tolzmann, xiv, 55; Horlacher, iv.

[7] Katzenberger, 35-43; Tolzmann, xiv; Horlacher, iv.

Bessie Tomlin and the 1937 Flood

Last week I noticed some search terms in my stats list pertaining to Bessie Tomlin, and I thought her story might make an interesting post. Bessie Tomlin is believed to have been the only casualty of the 1937 Flood in Portsmouth, Ohio.

I happen to have written a large research paper on the topic (the 1937 Flood in Portsmouth) in 2005, so I already had this story written out from years ago. The accompanying photos, I snapped this past weekend while in Portsmouth for a visit.

*****

Text below is an excerpt from: Lisa M. Pasquinelli, “Chapter IV: Living with the Flood in Portsmouth,” in The Great Ohio River Flood of 1937 (Dayton, OH: Wright State University, 2005), 12-15. [Find it on WorldCat.]

*****

1937 Flood at Portsmouth, Ohio (floodwall mural by Robert Dafford, photo by the author)

1937 Flood at Portsmouth, Ohio (floodwall mural by Robert Dafford, photo by the author)

HILLTOP SCHOOLS HOUSE REFUGEES

            All the public schools in Portsmouth closed at the end of the school day on January 21, which, as luck would have it, was the last day of the semester anyway. Schools located in the flood zone were opened up for storing furniture (on the upper floors, of course), and all the students’ books were locked in one room. Hilltop schools, which still had heat, opened to refugees, and the students were asked to take their own books home with them, to free up as much space as possible.[1]

            The Hilltop schools utilized for refugee housing were: Lincoln, Highland, Garfield, McKinley, Roosevelt, and Rosemount. At one point, Lincoln School, located on the northwest corner of Kinney’s Lane and Waller Street, held about 1,600 people, before several hundred were evacuated elsewhere due to overcrowding.[2] Highland, on the northwest corner of Hutchins and Logan streets, held as many as 1,300. Garfield, at the northeast corner of Gallia Street and Mabert Road, held at least a few hundred, and at one point a sandbag barrier was necessary to keep water out of the basement and keep the heat running.[3] McKinley, on Kinney’s Lane at the north end of Baird Avenue, held 400 people before being converted to a hospital on January 29.[4] For a time, Washington School, located at the corner of Eleventh and John Streets, also held refugees, but it had to be evacuated as floodwaters quickly reached it.[5]

            During the evacuation of Washington School, the drowning of Portsmouth’s only 1937 flood victim occurred. On Monday, January 25, emergency workers were evacuating refugees from Washington School, which had been without access to food or fuel for a day and a half. One boat, commanded by a white fireman named Walter Chick, departed Washington School around 7:00 p.m. that evening carrying eight refugees. The boat was rowing towards Waller Street, which it would then follow north to Lincoln School on the Hilltop. However, as the boat was turning left (north) from Eleventh Street onto Waller, a wave of water splashed into the boat. The splash startled one of the occupants, a 22-year-old African American named Bessie Tomlin, who stood up from her seat, making the boat unstable.[6]

The boat then turned over, spilling Tomlin and everyone else into the cold, muddy floodwater. Chick recovered, either stabilizing his own boat or finding his way to another, in time to answer Tomlin’s cries of “Save my baby! Save my baby!” as she struggled to hold her 18-month-old daughter Alberta above the water.[7] Chick grabbed the child from Tomlin’s hands but could not grab Tomlin herself in time, and she slipped away under the water.[8]

Detail of the Portsmouth 1937 Flood mural, showing Bessie Tomlin (photo by the author)

Detail of the Portsmouth 1937 Flood mural, showing Bessie Tomlin (photo by the author)

Additional rescue boats picked up the overturned boat’s other occupants, which included Tomlin’s two sons and mother-in-law. Rescuers took them to an emergency hospital that had been set up at the Church of Christ, at the corner of Grant and Summit streets, where they were treated for minor injuries.[9]

            One week later, on Monday, February 1, around 1:00 p.m., after much of the floodwater had receded, someone discovered Tomlin’s body at the corner of Tenth and Waller streets, one block from where her boat had tipped over.[10] Tomlin’s funeral took place at the Emrick Funeral Home, at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 2, and she was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth.[11] Her husband William Tomlin, two sons Herschel Lee and David Taylor, and her baby daughter Alberta Madeline survived her.[12]

Monument to Bessie Tomlin, Greenlawn Cemetery, Portsmouth, Ohio (photo by the author)

Monument to Bessie Tomlin, Greenlawn Cemetery, Portsmouth, Ohio (photo by the author)

Bessie Tomlin, a young wife and mother (who was expecting her fourth child at any time), was the only casualty of the 1937 flood in Portsmouth.[13] Her address was given in the Portsmouth Times as rear 1142 Eleventh Street, and she was, according to Jerry Holt of Shawnee State University (in Portsmouth), “on the run from an abusive husband” and had been staying with relatives when the flood struck.[14] According to the Portsmouth Times, Tomlin’s husband, William, was employed by the WPA and “was helping move furniture from the first floor of the Second Presbyterian Church when the tragedy occurred.”[15]

            The case of Bessie Tomlin was an isolated, unfortunate incident. Everyone else who was transported to the schools arrived there safely and found two good meals daily and warm beds. The American Red Cross provided most of the food, which they prepared at the schools, nearby churches, and neighbors’ homes.[16] On Monday, February 1, the refugee schools even began issuing meal tickets to those staying there. However, they soon became extremely crowded, as refugee numbers exceeded one thousand in schools such as Lincoln and Highland. Therefore, authorities temporarily evacuated many refugees to other cities entirely, to relieve overcrowding on the Hilltop area. By Friday, January 29, they had reduced the total number of refugees occupying Portsmouth school buildings to just over 2,060 people.[17] However, the Portsmouth Times announced on February 1 that school children in Portsmouth would remain on “vacation” for at least two more weeks, as schools continued to house refugees and store furniture, even as floodwaters were receding, while residents cleaned up their homes.[18]

 


[1] “River May Go Over 62 Feet,” Portsmouth Times, 21 Jan. 1937, 7; “Homeless Use City Schools,” Portsmouth Times, 22 Jan. 1937, 1.

[2] Lincoln School is located on the same corner as the “infamous” Kinney’s Lane Spring, which was an important source of fresh water during the 1937 flood and will be discussed later in detail. It functioned as a Portsmouth City school district elementary school until a few years ago, when it was demolished and a new cancer center erected in its place. See Appendix 1, “Street Map of Portsmouth, Ohio.”

[3] Today, Garfield School is known as Vern Riffe School and is the home of the Scioto County Mentally Retarded Developmentally Disabled program.

[4] This hospital served 38 patients and 10 WPA boarders.

[5] “Housing Biggest Problem Facing Relief Leaders,” Portsmouth Times, 28 Jan. 1937, 3; “2,062 Refugees Make Schools Their Quarters,” Portsmouth Times, 30 Jan. 1937, 3; “Special Train Takes Group; More May Go,” Portsmouth Times, 26 Jan. 1937, 1; “1500 Taken Out of Town,” Portsmouth Times, 27 Jan. 1937, 2; Polk’s Portsmouth City Directory 1937, 792; “School is Made into Hospital,” Portsmouth Times, 30 Jan. 1937, 2; Sword, Story of Portsmouth, 104; Polk’s Portsmouth City Directory 1937, 792.

[6] “Woman Drowned as Boat Tips Over; First Victim,” Portsmouth Times, 26 Jan. 1937, 1-2; Sword, Story of Portsmouth, 106; River Voices, Lorentz and Lorentz.

[7] It is unclear whether Chick was able to right his own boat or whether he found his way to another boat.

[8] Sources only focus on Chick being the one to snatch the baby Alberta from Bessie’s hands. Some later examinations of the story have given notice to the fact that the white fireman Chick acted quickly and without racially-oriented thought to save an African American child from drowning—and would have saved the mother, too, had he been able to reach her in time. According to Shawnee State University history professor John Lorentz, “The story [of Bessie Tomlin] was kind of lost to history. Race had something to do with it.” Also, in June 2001, Alberta Tomlin Parker had a joyful meeting with David Chick, son of Walter Chick. She said, “When I met him, I was so thrilled. He said, ‘I have a black sister now’” (Mark Ellis, “Mural Tells of Disaster that Hit Portsmouth 65 Years Ago,” Columbus Dispatch, 26 Feb. 2002, online Lexis Nexis, http://www.lexisnexis.com).

[9] “Woman Drowned as Boat tips Over; First Victim,” Portsmouth Times, 26 Jan. 1937, 1-2; Sword, Story of Portsmouth, 106; River Voices, Lorentz and Lorentz; Pictorial Views, n.p.

[10] For the approximate locations of Bessie Tomlin’s death and the site where her body was later recovered, refer to the yellow points B and C in Appendix 1, “Street Map of Portsmouth, Ohio.”

[11] “Flood Victim’s Body Found on 11th St.,” Portsmouth Times, 2 Feb. 1937, 2; Sword, Story of Portsmouth, 106. Tomlin has recently (within the last ten years or so) been memorialized with a large, pictorial marker over her grave in Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth, and she has been immortalized in one of the murals painted on the new Portsmouth floodwall in the 1990s.

[12] “Flood Victim’s Body Found on 11th St.,” Portsmouth Times, 2 Feb. 1937, 2; River Voices, Lorentz and Lorentz. The Portsmouth Times says the baby’s name was “Arverta,” but Alberta Tomlin Parker gives an interview in the River Voices video, as well as The Columbus Dispatch (Mark Ellis, “Mural Tells of Disaster that Hit Portsmouth 65 Years Ago,” Columbus Dispatch, 26 Feb. 2002).

[13] “Flood Victim’s Body Found on 11th St.,” Portsmouth Times, 2 Feb. 1937, 2. The drowning death of Bessie Tomlin was the only truly accidental death recorded in Scioto County as a direct result of the 1937 flood. That is, according to all secondary sources, Tomlin is hailed as the “only victim” of the 1937 flood in Scioto County. However, a second flood-related death occurred in Scioto County on Thursday, January 28, around 5:30 p.m., and for the sake of completeness will be mentioned here. Everett Conley, a 32-year-old Franklin Furnace man, had made a bet with his friends that he could swim two hundred yards through the floodwater, fully clothed. Unfortunately for him, he became fatigued while still at least fifty feet from shore, and he drowned before anyone could help him. Perhaps secondary sources have ignored this second flood death in Scioto County because it was, in a manner of thinking, Conley’s own fault for making the wager in the first place, and so the accident was not entirely “accidental.”

[14] “Woman Drowned as Boat tips Over; First Victim,” Portsmouth Times, 26 Jan. 1937, 1-2; River Voices, Lorentz and Lorentz.

[15] Ibid. Incidentally, Second Presbyterian Church is located on the northwest corner of Waller Street at Eighth Street, only a few blocks from the scene of the accident (Polk’s 1937 Portsmouth City Directory, 743; see Appendix 1, “Street Map of Portsmouth, Ohio,” yellow points B and C).

[16] Highland School refugees’ meals were prepared at nearby Franklin Avenue Methodist Church, at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Logan Street. Lincoln School refugees’ meals were prepared at nearby Central Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Waller and Twenty-third streets. (See Appendix 1, “Street Map of Portsmouth, Ohio.”)

[17] A Portsmouth Times survey of refugees in the Portsmouth school buildings on Friday, January 29, revealed the following numbers: Roosevelt, 547; Highland, 520; Rosemount, 310; Lincoln, 375 (all “colored”); Garfield, 312. The sum of these numbers is actually 2,064, not 2,062, so I used the phrase “just over 2,060.” By January 29, the Ohio River had been falling for a day and a half; however, the river level was still above 71 feet, and most areas in the flood zone were still flooded.

[18] “Housing Biggest Problem Facing Relief Leaders,” Portsmouth Times, 28 Jan. 1937, 3; “Many Go Back into Homes to Start Mop-Up: Rehabilitation Steps Mapped,” Portsmouth Times, 31 Jan. 1937, 3; “2,062 Refugees Make Schools Their Quarters,” Portsmouth Times, 30 Jan. 1937, 3; “More ‘Rest’ is Seen for School Children,” Portsmouth Times, 1 Feb. 1937, 4.

Ex post facto reference: Saving digital photos to floppy disks? (Don’t)

Yesterday on my Search Terms (under my blog stats), I noticed the following question: “can i save my digital pictures to old floppy disks”?

Oh my…where to even begin?

Floppy disk by Giovy.it, on Flickr

Floppy disk by Giovy.it, on Flickr

I’ll tell you the short answer right up front, but not without a little bit of English-language semantic snark:

Can you save your digital photos to old floppy disks? Maybe. It depends on the file size and which old floppy disks (3.5″? 5.25″?) we’re talking about.

But I think the question you really want to ask is: Should you save your  digital photos to old floppy disks? And the answer to that is a resounding NO. No, no, no. No, thanks. No way. Do not want. Even hell to the no. And I’ll tell you why in a minute.

CAN YOU?

But first, let’s assume that for some unfathomable reason you MUST save your digital photos to old floppy disks. (Maybe it’s a scenario like that poster my math teacher used to have where the kid’s “why do I need to know this?” question is being answered by means of some ruffian putting a gun to his head and demanding that he “solve for x” in some equation. But I digress…)

First, let’s talk about what you mean by “old floppy disks”. How “old” are we talking, here? Do you mean “old” style — like, oldschool floppy disks you just bought new at the store (yes, some stores still sell them)? Or are they actually OLD — like, you found vintage ’80s and ’90s floppy disks in a box in your basement? (This plays into my “should you” argument more than “can you”, but it’s still something to clarify.) For the sake of this example (exempli gratia), let’s assume that whatever floppy disks you have, they’re currently in good shape. Somehow.

And are you referring to the 3.5″ floppy disks — the ones we all used in the late ’90s with the hard shell?

floppy disks for breakfast by Blude, on Flickr

floppy disks for breakfast by Blude, on Flickr

Or are we going back even older to the 5.25″ floppy disks — the more-common-in-the-’80s ones that are actually flimsy.

5.25 inch floppy disks by avlxyz, on Flickr

5.25 inch floppy disks by avlxyz, on Flickr

Here’s where “can you” comes into play. The capacity of those “old” floppy disks in most cases is going to be less than 3 MB per disk. Most 3.5″ floppy disks you will run across are going to be 1.44 MB. Most 5.25″ floppy disks are going to be less than that. The capacity can vary even among disks of the same size — I did not even realize how much it can vary until I looked at this chart on Wikipedia’s Floppy Disk article — but if we are talking “old floppy disks,” we are going to be talking small storage capacity compared to what’s available in newer technologies, no matter how you slice it. (For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to assume that the “old floppy disks” we’re talking about are probably the 3.5 inch, 1.44 MB ones, from here on out, because as a child of the ’90s, those are the ones I used most, and those are the ones I tend to find lying around more often than the older 5.25″ ones — although my Dad still has a bunch of them.)

And now let’s think about the file sizes of digital photos today. Obviously, it depends on the number of megapixels your camera is capable of capturing, as well as the quality it is actually set on. All of the cameras I use on a regular basis are 5-6 megapixels, which, according to this chart I found, should yield digital photos that are about 2.5 megabytes each. (And yes, that is about right, judging from the photos saved on my computer. But I’ve linked to the chart in case your camera has a different number of megapixels — which it probably does.)

Okay, so let’s compare: If 1 photo is 2.5 megabytes and 1 floppy disk is 1.44 megabytes, how many photos can you fit on that floppy? The answer is zero. (Well, unless you want to use some kind of file-splitting utility — remember WinRar? — but if you knew how to do that, I’m going to assume you wouldn’t still be trying to save digital photos on floppy disks. No offense.)

Now, sure, if your camera is only 2 megapixels, that’s only going to be about 900 KB (about 0.9 megabytes), so yes, you could fit one onto a floppy disk. Or, if you have scanned some photos at a really low quality — like back in the Day before I knew better and scanned a bunch of photos at 150 dpi, making each 4×6 photo file about 20-80 KB — then, you could probably fit several on a floppy disk (but even then it would only be like 15 files).

Something else to consider in the whole “can you” side of things is the hardware involved.

I’m going to assume that if you’re asking whether you can save digital photos to floppy disks, that you already have a plethora of floppy disks (and trust me, you will need a LOT of them), either from some dusty box in your closet or some (probably also dusty) ones that you bought at the store.

But do you still have a floppy disk drive? Does your current computer still look something like these?

Old Computers: Give Away or Recycle? by kalebdf, on Flickr

Old Computers: Give Away or Recycle? by kalebdf, on Flickr

See how prominently the floppy disk drive was featured in these older computers? That Dell on the right even has it molded right into the case. (We used to have one like that, perhaps that very model. We bought it in 1999.)

But these days, many computers don’t come with floppy disk drives in them anymore. They went out of laptops first (kind of like how a lot of laptops don’t even have CD drives anymore these days). Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a desktop computer that comes with a floppy disk drive.

If you don’t have a working floppy disk drive, you can still buy an external one that connects by USB.

External floppy disk drive by Nicholas Chan, inicholas.net

Photo by Nicholas Chan / NCDN, inicholas.net, via Flickr

I actually have one of these (similar to the one above) for whenever I find a random floppy disk at the house and need to find out what’s on it and whether I want to continue saving the data (in which case I transfer it to another media).

Okay, I think those are all the aspects I wanted to cover in the “can you” analysis.

And so, the answer to “Can you save digital photos to old floppy disks?” is: If you have a perfect storm of actually having digital photos small enough to fit onto whatever size floppy disk you have; if that floppy disk is functional and you have access to the equipment (i.e. floppy drive) necessary to read/write to that floppy disk….then, yes, technically, you can save digital photos (though probably not more than 1 unless they are really low quality) to a floppy disk.

But, more importantly:

SHOULD YOU?

As I said before, the quick and dirty, just-give-me-the-bottom-line-and-spare-me-the-sermon answer is NO. Don’t do it.

If you want the sermon portion, read on. (Haha – who am I kidding? Obviously you are interested in the explanation of things, or you would have quit reading long before now.)

I’ve already mentioned obsolescence. Even the original questioner used the word “old” in his/her query. Floppy disks are old. Even if you bought them new, they are old. They are an old format of media. There is no good reason to cling to them as a solution for storing today’s files. You will have trouble finding them; you will have trouble finding the necessary hardware to access them. Even if you still have the hardware to access them, what about when it stops working? You will have trouble replacing it.

So move on. Move on now. And please jump ahead to today’s storage solutions; don’t meander your way through all the media that came in between floppy disks and today. If you want some advice about today’s storage options, check out my earlier blog post about Saving your digital photos, Part 2: How to do it (6/12/2012).

Another reason why you shouldn’t use floppy disks is, as I have touched on already, the ratio of digital photo file size to the disk’s storage capacity. That is, the size of a single digital photo file is way too close to the maximum storage capacity of a floppy disk. You won’t be able to store very many digital photos on a floppy disk, unless they are (for whatever reason) really low quality. As an example: I went to a wedding the other day. I took over 120 digital photos, all of which are more than 1.44 MB each. Even if I had set the camera down to 2 megapixels – which would be a bad idea in itself but let’s just pretend I went crazy and did it – then I would have files of 0.9 MB each (according to the chart linked above), I would still need one floppy disk for each photo. That’s 120+ floppy disks.

Think about that from a financial and physical storage space standpoint. It doesn’t make sense. It’s going to cost you a fortune to store your all your digital photo files on floppy disks (unless, okay, you already own a bunch, which is probably the real reason you’re asking). AND, they are going to take up a ton of space.

floppies by functoruser, on Flickr

floppies by functoruser, on Flickr

Alternatively, you could store the same 120 photo files — which, at 0.9 MB each, that comes to about 108 MB — on a single CD (with tons of space to spare) for a cost of about $1 or even on something like Dropbox cloud storage for free (you get 2 gigabytes for free).

One more really important thing to consider as to why you shouldn’t still be using floppy disks (for digital photos or anything else) is their tendency to fail – completely and unexpectedly – for no apparent reason. It’s like one day, the disk is perfectly fine, and then the next day, it simply will not read. It’s like it committed suicide without ever seeming depressed or even leaving a note; it gave no warning signs and you had no idea anything was even wrong until it was too late.

(And then, in our anger and frustration, many of us — myself included — had a tendency to do this — am I right?

Death of the floppy disk (42/365) by Rob Hayes., on Flickr

Death of the floppy disk (42/365) by Rob Hayes., on Flickr

I’m not suggesting that other types of media don’t fail. They do. Oh, boy do they ever, sometimes. So you should always have backups (second copies) of things you actually want to protected from loss (again, see my Saving your digital photos entries from June 2012). But floppy disks just seem to be worse about randomly kicking the bucket, compared to most other media I’ve used. CDs, you can see the scratches; hard drives usually start making the “click of death”. Floppy disks tend to…just keel over one day.

Anyway, bottom line is : You really shouldn’t still be trying to use “old floppy disks” for your storage needs, for digital photos or anything else. The reasons for that being (to reiterate):

  • The media is already obsolete;
  • The storage capacity is too small to be useful for most file types these days (or for holding more than a handful of said files); and
  • Floppy disks have  tendency to fail epically without warning (worse than other media I’ve used).

So in answer to the original question: “can i save my digital pictures to old floppy disks”? You might be able to, if all the stars align. But should you? Absolutely not.

And if you have old floppy disks lying around and you are still reluctant to just chuck them in the bin? The only uses I can, in good conscience, recommend for those old floppies involve arts and crafts, such as these lovely examples:

Project 365 #30: 300109 Never Say Die by comedy_nose, on Flickr

Project 365 #30: 300109 Never Say Die by comedy_nose, on Flickr

.

Sunday DIY - Floppy Disk Pen Holder - 5/5 by rintakumpu, on Flickr

Sunday DIY – Floppy Disk Pen Holder – 5/5 by rintakumpu, on Flickr

Have fun!

MVAR Recap 8/16/2012

Today was the most recent meeting of the Miami Valley Archivists Roundtable (or, MVAR), an informal gathering of archivists in and around Dayton, Ohio. This time, we met at the Marianist Archives (archives for the religious order Society of Mary). Our hosts were Brother John Habjan, S.M., Jennifer Gerth, and Kim Neuenschwander, archivists.

The Marianist Archives is physically located in the Roesch Library at University of Dayton (Dayton, Ohio), which is a Marianist university, but the Marianist Archives itself is not actually a part of the university. (It’s kind of like how Vatican City is surrounded by Rome but has its own government.) They also like people to understand that they are also separate from the Marianist Library and the University of Dayton Archives (although I can understand how it might be confusing!).

*****

Rachel Bilokonsky, MVAR Chair, started off the meeting by announcing that this was her last meeting as MVAR Chair. She is passing on the proverbial torch to…me, actually. Effective now—or whenever I get the email list and the MVAR archives files from her, for sure!—I am the new chair of the Miami Valley Archives Roundtable.

After that announcement, we did the institutional reports.

*****

The institutional reports consist of each person in attendance taking a turn, stating their name, position, and institution, and sharing a little bit about what they have been up to lately, archives-wise. (The label “institutional reports” may make it sound formal, but it’s really not!) Here are some snippets from the reports that I hope my peers won’t mind my sharing:

Rachel Bilokonsky, the MVAR chairwoman and University of Dayton archivist, shared that the University Archives is still tweaking their recent implementation of the Archivists’ Toolkit. She also mentioned that they recently finished up re-housing the 500+ boxes of the papers of former Dayton area Congressman Charles W. Whalen, Jr. , using money from an OHRAB grant they recently received.

James Zimmerlin of the Records Center & Archives of Warren County passed around a (duplicated) copy of an 1861 newspaper they recently found in the archives. He also introduced his intern Tricia and a volunteer Ryan. Tricia discussed a Civil War exhibit she has been creating, as well as describing how her research into Warren Co. Civil War sailors kept evolving and leading into other interesting topics. (I know how that can be!)

Tina Ratcliff of the Montgomery County Records Center & Archives talked a little bit about how they have helped with some of the research for the Patterson Boulevard Canal Parkway Project, which will help connect the Oregon District with the riverfront. The Parkway will include pylons with historical information. (We – Dayton Metro Library Local History – helped with that research, too. I’m looking forward to seeing some of our historic photographs on those pylons soon! Not to mention how glad I will be when the construction on Patterson — which runs along the back side of the Main Library — is finished.)

Gillian Hill and Joan Donovan of the Greene County Archives & Records Center have been spending a lot of time lately updating their database with the new locations of items, since their move to a new facility (see MVAR 5/17/2012).

Galen Wilson of NARA’s Dayton branch said he has been working with creating records schedules for federal government social media records. He also mentioned that he recently attended Dayton History‘s “Old Case Files” murder mystery theater performance at the Old Court House and really enjoyed it. (I remember helping with some of the research for that, too; this year it was the 1876 murder trial of Harry Adams.)

Angeline Hellman of Clark State Community College Archives was pleased to report that she now knows the contents of all the boxes in their archives, which has been a great help in answering reference questions! 🙂

Jennifer Gerth and Kim Neuenschwander of the Marianist Archives shared an article from the Summer 2012 issue of University of Dayton Magazine (pg. 61 print, pg. 32 in the PDF) about the Bellinghausen glass plate negatives collection, which includes lots (about 1,200!) of cool 19th century images of Hawaii, where Bro. Bellinghausen was assigned at the time. Jennifer also shared about a recent history-themed vacation she took, which included stops at Kitty Hawk, NC (Wright Brothers’ flight); Raleigh, NC (lost colony of Roanoke); and Colonial Wiliamsburg.

Bro. John Habjan, S.M., of the Marianist Archives, shared about the progress he has made in weeding out multiple duplicates of publications and other items, which has helped create a little more space in the archives. He has also had some luck recently in identifying formerly unidentified group photos, by sending a photocopy of the image to someone he is able to recognize in the photo, and that person can often identify the event and (at least some of) the other people.

Natalie Fritz of the Clark County Historical Society has been processing the collection of a previous Springfield mayor. She also announced that the museum will be creating a companion exhibit to go with a theater production surrounding Newsweek’s 50th anniversary article “The American Dream” (1983), which featured Springfield. They are also still working on processing probate records through the funding from a recent OHRAB grant. Another one of the Historical Society’s employees, Mel Glover, talked about how they’ve been revamping their collection policy.

Shari Christie of Air Force Research Laboratory History Office (at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) said they have been receiving a lot of new records from the Aeronautical Systems Center, since it is being reorganized.

Sr. Noreen Jutte of the Sisters of the Precious Blood talked about the progress of their renovations.

Judy Deeter of the Troy Historical Society talked about working with the 1913 Flood Commemoration Committee. They are also producing an Arcadia book about Troy during the 1913 Flood, as well as working on another book for the Troy bicentennial, which is in 2014.

Jillian Slater of the Marianist Archives talked about working with their CONTENTdm digital collections, as well as mentioning that they’ve had lots of reference questions recently thanks to the International Marion Research Institute.

Colleen Mahoney, the archivist for the Catholic Special Collections at University of Dayton, recently attended the Oral History Institute held at Kenyon College and sponsored by the Ohio Humanities Council. She highly recommends it.

Noelle Rihm, a graduate student in the Wright State University Public History program, recently completed an internship at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, including working on an exhibit called “Semper Fly.”

Mary Milburn of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor talked about how they have been working to organize a lot of materials from their attic, as well as visiting sites that were formerly hospitals affiliated with their order.

*****

When it was my turn to report (as archivist at the Dayton Metro Library), I shared that I was glad that I could talk about something other than the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection in regards to my manuscript processing activities. I have processed several small collections since finishing the FPW (one of our largest) this spring.

I mentioned writing on the blog here, working on posting the Bio Sketches to the blog (as I’m sure you’ve seen if you’re reading this!), and how I’ve been answering “ex post facto” reference questions. I also noted that I’ve received several reference questions through people finding this blog. It seems like there have been a lot more in recent weeks, maybe because of all the Bio Sketches I’ve posted.

In response to Jennifer’s story about her history vacation (I spoke just after she did), I mentioned that I recently visited Greenfield Village for the first time, after taking the Certified Archivist exam in Detroit last week. I enjoyed Greenfield Village, especially seeing the Wright Family Home and the Wright interpreters (although I wish they had made the guy playing Orville wear a stick-on mustache, at least, if he wasn’t going to grow one (see photo) — that’s how most people tell them apart, if they can at all! lol).

And finally, perhaps the most exciting thing : Our IT staff upgraded our CONTENTdm from version 6.0 to version 6.1.3+ a couple of days ago, so our digital collections on Dayton Remembers now have added features. For instance, users can add comments or download images. (I intend to write a separate post about this, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…)

*****

*** OLD ***

After the institutional reports, we went over the list of relevant upcoming conferences:

*****

Future MVAR Meeting Dates:

November 15, 2012
February 21, 2012
May 16, 2013
August 15, 2013

We still need hosts for all of the above meetings except the February meeting. If you want to volunteer to host a meeting, please contact me! Otherwise, take your chances, because if nobody volunteers, I will have to start cornering people individually with cold calls! 🙂

Also, this round it is not really a problem (since only one of those dates has been claimed), but I don’t like to announce publicly where the meetings are. What if we have crashers? Or like that thing where at least one person is always absent from the State of the Union Address, in case someone bombs it? (You never know, somebody might have it in for all the archivists of the Miami Valley. Hey, it come happen. We are rock stars!) But the point is: if you don’t know where the next meeting is, contact me, and I’ll be happy to tell you — as long as you seem, you know, legit.

*****

Next was the tour. I had never been to the Marianist Archives before, so I was really interested to see it.

The reading room was very nice:

Reading Room, Marianist Archives (Dayton, Ohio)

Reading Room, Marianist Archives (Dayton, Ohio)

And so were the stacks:

Part of the storage area, Marianist Archives (Dayton, Ohio)

Part of the storage area, Marianist Archives (Dayton, Ohio)

I particularly liked all the exhibits they had around the room. One featured a time capsule cornerstone from 1914. That was pretty cool.

*****

After the tour, several of us headed out to the lunch portion of the meeting, which was held at Jimmie’s Ladder 11, which is located in a renovated fire house on the corner of Brown and Wyoming streets. Jennifer arranged for the owner, Jimmie Brandell, and the builder/remodeler (one Mr. Mark Shannon, I think he said) to talk to us about the history of the building and the renovation. That part was super-cool; I really enjoyed it. I especially liked hearing about all the old things they were able to re-use from their building and other nearby homes and buildings. (You can read some of their “story” on their web site.)

The builder looked very familiar; I think I helped him once or twice at the library. (I probably sound like “Oh I helped everyone” in this post — but sometimes things just come together like that! And that is one of the joys of what we do – you get to say “I helped with Cool Project X” sometimes.)

I meant to take some pictures before I left, but in the bustle of knowing I needed to get back to work, I forgot. But there are some pictures on the Jimmie’s Ladder 11 web site, so you should check that out. Their menu is also on there. I had never been there before, but today I had the “Italiano” sandwich, and I can tell you that it was quite tasty. Everyone else’s food looked yummy, too.

Another successful (and fun) MVAR meeting on the books!

Ex post facto reference: First burial in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton

Yesterday, someone apparently searched the Internet for the following : “what the first funeral for woodland cemetery dayton ohio”.

I hope whoever it is either sees this post later or calls the Dayton Library, or even Woodland, because this was a pretty easy question to answer.

Well, it’s an easy answer…assuming that I understand the spirit of the question correctly. The person said “funeral,” which I’m interpreting as “burial.” Technically, you could bury someone without a funeral (in all sorts of scenarios), or have a funeral without a burial (cremation, etc.).

But I’m going to go ahead and answer: “What was the first burial in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio?”

Woodland Cemetery was officially dedicated on June 21, 1843, and the first burial took place a few weeks later. The first person to be buried in Woodland Cemetery was Allen Cullum on July 11, 1843. Cullum was a native of Butler County, Ohio, and died on July 9, 1843, age the age of 38 years. He is buried in Section 77, Lot 83.

UPDATED 10/17/2012, to add photo:

Allen Cullum tombstone

Allen Cullum tombstone in Woodland Cemetery (Photo taken 7 Oct. 2012 by Matt Rickey. Used with permission.)

Sources:

Woodland Cemetery Interment Database, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org/.

Norris D. Hellwig. Woodland: 150 Years. [Dayton, OH]: s. n., 1991. Pages 3-4.