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.”

10 responses to “Bio Sketch: Mary & Laura Thresher, youngest daughters of Ebenezer Thresher

  1. Lisa – great piece on the Thresher sisters. Does the Thresher collection have any photos of the home at 315 N. Robert Boulevard?

    Jim B.

    • Hi, Jim, I’m not sure. I don’t think there were any photos of the house in the loose photos, but there might be one in one of the scrapbooks. I will find out. If you are just looking for “any” photo of the house, I think I have seen some newspaper clippings about Robert Blvd. that had their house in it.

  2. Lisa – Thanks for the quick reply. I have the clipping photos – 1961-1964 newspaper articles about the pending ‘death’ of Robert Boulevard due to
    I-75 construction. The newspaper articles are what stoked my interest in
    a more detailed look at the house. Any photos you may run across in the collection would be great – putting them on your Flikr site would be great.

    The entire Robert Boulevard story is a worthy of an extended write-up.

    Thanks again – Jim B.

    • Hi, Jim, I just double-checked. There are no photos of 315 N. Robert Blvd. in the Thresher-McCann Collection. The only photo I found of it is from the front-page of the Dayton Journal Herald, July 23, 1960. I shouldn’t post it because I don’t own the copyright and it’s not public domain. However, you may be able to get the original from the Dayton Daily News Archives at Wright State University. (As you probably know, DDN bought the Journal Herald.) Thanks for your interest! Lisa

  3. Pingback: Bio Sketch: A. H. Mittendorf (1863-1949), wood carver in Dayton, Ohio | Glancing Backwards

  4. Pingback: Bio Sketch: Dr. Thomas A. McCann (1858-1943), homeopathic doctor in Dayton, Ohio | Glancing Backwards

  5. Dr. Bill Johnson

    11/22/15 All this was of great interest to me out here in Medford, Oregons,Since I grew up in Granville, O.,and wen to Denison–the names McCann, Beaver and Thresher are quite familiar. Appreciate the archival work involved.—Dr. Bill Johnson

  6. Amelia McCann James Ehlen ("Mimi")

    This thread and the information on the Thresher and McCann families is a wonderful find. I am one of the granddaughters of Alice Beaver McCann James. Growing up, we always heard stories about our great-grandmother Laura and her sister (Auntie May). I did not know that Laura and Benjamin had a daughter before Franklin was born (my grandmother’s older brother)–Alice lived for 92 years and an older sister dying as an infant never came up (of course, it may have never been discussed when she was growing up). I remember visiting the Roberts Blvd. home when i was very young–visiting my great aunt Eleanor there. It was devastating when they demolished those homes to make way for I-75–think of it every time I drive through Dayton. My father, Arthur James (one of Laura and Benjamin’s grandsons), recently passed away. He has many documents concerning the McCann and Thresher families–my sister, brother, and I are looking forward to taking time to delve more into our family’s history. Thank you for this post–sorry it took so long for me to find it.

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