Bio Sketch: Jonathan Harshman Winters (1834-1915), banker in Dayton, Ohio

Jonathan Harshman Winters, I, was born October 21, 1834, in Dayton, Ohio, the fourth child (and eldest son) out of the 11 children of Valentine Winters (1807-1890) and his wife Catherine Harshman (1810-1882). He was named after his grandfather, Jonathan Harshman, Sr. Valentine Winters and his son Jonathan were prominent Dayton bankers.

Jonathan H. Winters (1834-1915)

Jonathan H. Winters (1834-1915), from the Dayton Daily News, 4 June 1915, pg. J5.

Jonathan attended local Dayton schools. Then, in 1851, he attended the Flushing Institute, a preparatory school in Long Island, New York. In 1852-1853, he studied at “the College Hill university” (Farmer’s College) in Cincinnati.

In 1853 or 1854, Jonathan became an assistant teller and messenger at the Dayton Exchange Bank, which was controlled by his father Valentine Winters, his uncle Jonathan Harshman, Jr., his brother-in-law Robert R. Dickey, and James R. Young. Within a few years, Harshman, Dickey, and Young had all withdrawn from the Exchange Bank. In 1857, Valentine Winters made his son Jonathan a partner (one-third interest) in the bank, which was then known as V. Winters & Son.

The same year that he became a partner in his father’s bank, Jonathan H. Winters married Susan Louella Bates on June 9, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Susan was born September 16, 1837, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest daughter of Richard Bates (1808-1855) and his wife Nancy Trotter (1814-1870).

Susan L. (Bates) Winters

Susan L. (Bates) Winters (1837-1910), portrait taken in 1891 by Appleton (Winters Papers, 4:3, Photo # 02, Dayton Metro Library)

The Jonathan H. Winters family resided from at least the 1860s until about 1899 at 115 W. Third Street (north side of Third between Wilkinson and Ludlow), across the street from Jonathan’s father Valentine Winters’ large mansion at 130 W. Third Street. The Valentine Winters home became the site of the Women’s Christian Association in 1891 [dedicated 31 Jan. 1892, see MS-038, 4:1, p. 107].

Jonathan H. Winters' home, 1927

Jonathan H. Winters’ home (on the right), 115 W. Third St. in 1927 (Lutzenberger Photo # 0174, Dayton Metro Library)

A new YMCA was built at the northwest corner of Third and Ludlow in 1908, and the YMCA eventually purchased the J. H. Winters house next-door to be used as the Boys’ Building. The site is currently [2012] part of a Dayton municipal parking garage. About 1899, the Jonathan and Susan Winters moved to 137 W. First Street (northeast corner First and Wilkinson), where they lived until their deaths. The site is now a parking lot.

Jonathan Harshman Winters, I, and Susan Louella (Bates) Winters) had three children, all of whom were born in Dayton, Ohio:

  1. Louella Winters (born Sept. 22, 1858; died Aug. 13, 1940), who married Allen E. Thomas (1855-1910) in 1884 and had several children;
  2. Clara Winters (born Mar. 26, 1861; died Apr. 13, 1939), who never married; and
  3. Valentine Winters, II (born June 9, 1866; died Oct. 8, 1943), who married Helen Wood Clegg (1867-1938) in 1889 and had one son, Jonathan Harshman Winters, II (1898-1975).

On January 1, 1882, the V. Winters & Son Bank became the Winters National Bank, with Jonathan H. Winters as its president. With the exception of one year, Jonathan was the active head of the Winters National Bank for 31 years, from its inception on January 1, 1882, until he stepped down as president on January 1, 1913. However, he remained vice president until his death. Winters National Bank was located on the northeast corner of Third and Main Streets.

Callahan Building, ca. 1917

Callahan Building, northeast corner Third and Main streets, where the Winters National Bank was located for a number of years. Photo circa 1917. (Lutzenberger Photograph # 0265A, Dayton Metro Library)

The one year in which Jonathan H. Winters did not serve as active head of the Winters National Bank was from August 1882 to August 1883. During that time, Jonathan, his wife, and his three children traveled extensively throughout Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Europe. While Jonathan and his family were “globe trotting,” as he called it, his father Valentine acted as head of the Winters National Bank.

Tokyo postcard, 1882

One of many postcards collected by J. H. Winters during his world tour from 1882-1883. (Winters Papers, 2:5, Dayton Metro Library)

In addition to his interest in the banking industry, Jonathan H. Winters also held stock in the Dayton and Western Traction Company, the Dayton and Troy Traction Company, and other corporations.

Although Jonathan H. Winters was interested in civic and community affairs, he preferred the company of his family and the books in his large library over companionship from social clubs or organizations.

Susan L. Winters was actively involved in the Women’s Christian Association (WCA). She and her mother Nancy (Trotter) Bates were among its organizers in 1870, and Susan Winters was its first president. Susan was also among the founders (and a generous donor to the construction fund) of the Dayton Widows’ Home, which was built on Findlay Street in 1883 and maintained by the WCA.

When Miami Valley Hospital decided to remove from its location on Fourth Street to its present location near Apple Street, Susan Winters has been credited with having donated the land for the hospital.[1]

Jonathan and Susan Winters were members of the Third Street Presbyterian Church in Dayton. Susan taught a large Sunday school class for adults there for a number of years.

Susan L. (Bates) Winters died of heart disease on September 9, 1910, at her home, 137 W. First Street, Dayton, Ohio. She was 72 years old.

On June 4, 1915, Jonathan Harshman Winters, I, died in Dayton, as a result of pneumonia contracted during a lengthy road trip in inclement weather the previous week. He was 80 years old.

Jonathan H. Winters and his wife Susan L. Winters are buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.

Jonathan and Susan Winters grave

Jonathan and Susan Winters grave, Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 29 Aug. 2012)

[1] This was stated in Susan’s obituary. However, Mark Bernstein’s book Miami Valley Hospital: A Centennial History (1990) names “Clara Winters” (the name of Jonathan and Susan’s daughter) as the land donor (pp. 18-19).


Bernstein, Mark. Miami Valley Hospital: A Centennial History. [Dayton, OH]: Miami Valley Hospital, 1990.

Dayton (OH) City Directories, 1856-1916. Dayton Metro Library.

Dayton Widows’ Home. “About Widows Home – Our History.” Accessed 11 July 2012,

“Death Beckons Mrs. Winters.” Dayton Journal, 10 Sept. 1910, p. 9.

“Jonathan H. Winters, Pioneer Banker, Dies.” Dayton Daily News, 4 June 1915, p. J-5.

“Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images. Accessed 11 July 2012, at FamilySearch,

“Prominent Dayton Banker Succumbs to Pneumonia.” Dayton Journal, 5 Jun 1915, p. 8.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Dayton, Ohio, 1897 & 1918. Accessed 19 July 2012,

Winters, Jonathan H. A Sketch of the Winters Family. Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889.

Winters, Susan L. [Winters family genealogy notes]. Winters Collection (MS-038), 4:2, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).

Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database. Accessed 11 July 2012,


This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in July 2012 for the Jonathan H. & Susan L. (Bates) Winters Papers (MS-038) 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 finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library or 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.

7 responses to “Bio Sketch: Jonathan Harshman Winters (1834-1915), banker in Dayton, Ohio

  1. I believe that Jonathan Winters, the commedian was a direct descendent, either a grandchild or a great grandchild. It would be interesting to see where he fit into the family.

  2. Hi Lisa, thank you for such an informative blog article! I am currently working on a chain of ownership for a dwelling in Mont. Co. and today I am reviewing the index page where the Winter’s family are Grantor’s and Grantees! It is always great to see a face with a name….the Mont. Co. index books are great, although, consistent record of which quarter of which quarter a parcel is in…could use a little spiffing up! This week in time has been so sad all over the earth, tragedies everywhere, starting with such sad news to hear of Jonathan Winters’ passing. He was the funniest person on Earth! He was my favorite comedian the whole time growing up. We are so fortunate to have been a part of a place where he grew up and respected – his home place, here in Dayton, Ohio. He never missed a chance to mention it, or even creating his character Maude Fricker after his Aunt Clara!!…his style of laughter seems like home to me, rooted in the same atmosphere I grew up in completely. Standing at my kitchen window….I see the old Winters Bank (the Bellbrook Winters Library), and beyond that, through the trees, up the hill, I see….Aunt Clara’s wrap around porch! While doing the dishes, I think of what she looked like sitting on that porch, rocking, saying things to him that caused him to look at life in such a way to write and paint and make us bust our side seams growing up laughing like crazy….Bellbrook has so many fascinating snap anecdotes! Just a couple weeks ago, I thought, “I’m going to take a picture of myself at the kitchen sink, with his house up there in the background, and send it to him….see what he says…if it gives him a spark of a chuckle!” My Daughter is a Marine…and he was a Marine; I wanted to share that with him and to see what his outlook was on world affairs…. I regret not acting upon my intuition…again, thank you for all your work on this subject, it helps me immensely put the pieces of the Winters puzzle together.

    • Thanks for sharing all those neat stories, Laurel! I actually do not know much about the actor Jonathan Winters, just that he is indeed related to Jonathan Harshman Winters I, the banker, who was his great-grandfather. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post!

  3. Thank you for the nice post, Lisa. I came here wondering whether the father of your subject, Valentine Winters, was the same person as the V. Winters Esq. that was mentioned in the now famous Jordon Anderson letter to his former master, posted in the Cincinnati Commercial in August of 1865. Would you know about that? I was also interested in whether V. Winters Esq. was a lawyer, as I am interested in the use of “Esq.” in the American context over time.

    Thank you.

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