Category Archives: Biographical Sketches

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)

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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.

Bio Sketch: Cooper and Greene families, pioneers in Dayton, Ohio

Daniel C. Cooper was born November 20, 1773, in Morris County, New Jersey, the son of George Cooper (1745-1801) and Margaret Lafferty. He was trained as a surveyor and first came to the Miami Valley about 1794. He settled in Dayton permanently in the summer of 1796. Cooper is largely credited with helping to settle a question of property rights in the early days of the city, between 1799 and 1801. He is also credited with attracting many of the important early settlers to Dayton. He also built Dayton’s first mills, served as its first justice of the peace, created a new plat (1809) of the city, and was a member of the town council. He also served several terms in the state legislature and state senate. He died on July 13, 1818, in Dayton, and his remains now lie in Woodland Cemetery.[1]

Daniel C. Cooper's signature, 1816

Daniel C. Cooper’s signature, 1816 (FPW 39:3)

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Tombstone of Daniel C. Cooper, Woodland Cemetery

Tombstone of Daniel C. Cooper, Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 2011)

In 1803, Daniel Cooper married Sophia (Greene) Burnet (1779-1826), the young widow of George W. Burnet (1773-1801) of Cincinnati, and daughter of Charles Greene and Phebe Sheffield. Sophia was born August 25, 1779, in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Daniel and Sophia had several children, but only David Zeigler Cooper (1812-1836) lived to adulthood, though he had no children. After Daniel Cooper’s death in 1818, Sophia in 1822 married General Fielding Loury (1781-1848), with whom she had one child: Fielding Loury, Jr. (1824-1882), who married Elizabeth Richards Morrison (d. 1914). Sophia (Greene) Burnet Cooper Loury died May 17, 1826, and is buried in Woodland Cemetery.[2]

Tombstones of Daniel C. Cooper and his wife Sophia, Woodland Cemetery

Tombstones of Daniel C. Cooper and his wife Sophia, Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 2011)

Charles Russell Greene was born December 21, 1785, in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, the son of Charles Greene (1753-?) and Phebe Sheffield (1754-?). Sophia (Greene) Burnet Cooper Loury was his older sister, and Joseph Peirce (son of Isaac Peirce and Mary Sheffield) was his cousin. Like his brother-in-law Isaac Peirce, Charles Greene was also a member of the Ohio Company that migrated to Marietta in 1788, and so Charles R. Greene grew up on the Ohio frontier. In 1806, Charles R. Greene came to Dayton, where his brother-in-law Daniel C. Cooper and cousin Joseph Peirce already resided. He went into business with Cooper. He succeeded Benjamin Van Cleve as Clerk of Courts in 1822, serving in that capacity until his death; he was one of the first bank cashiers and one of the first fire wardens. Charles R. Greene was killed by Matthew Thompson on September 11, 1833, as a result of a dispute. [More information about the Charles R. Greene estate can be found in the Van Cleve-Dover Collection (MS-006) at the Dayton Metro Library. See finding aid.] He is buried in Woodland Cemetery. His wife, Achsah (Disbrow) Greene, and several children survived him.[3]

Tombstone of Charles Russell Greene, Woodland Cemetery

Tombstone of Charles Russell Greene, Woodland Cemetery (Photo by the author, 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.


[1] Augustus W. Drury, History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, (Chicago: Clarke Publishing Co., 1909), 1:97-98, 1:25-233; John F. Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840 (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 33-40; Robert W. Steele & Mary Davies Steele, Early Dayton (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 29-31, 61-66, 87; Charlotte Reeve Conover, Dayton, Ohio: An Intimate History (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1932), 16-20; Lindsay M. Brien, A Genealogical Index of Pioneers in the Miami Valley, Ohio, 2nd ed. (Dayton, OH: Montgomery County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, 2007), 27.

[2] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 36-37, 40, 112-113; Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 87.

[3] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 120-121; Drury, History of the City of Dayton, 1:130-131; Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 87-88; Brien, A Genealogical Index of Pioneers in the Miami Valley, Ohio, 2nd ed., 69; “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.

The Estate Accounts of Charles R. Greene, 1833, can be found in the Van Cleve-Dover Collection (MS-006), Notebook 10, Dayton Metro Library. The books were in the possession of John W. Van Cleve.

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.

Bio Sketch: James Steele (1778-1841), pioneer & merchant in Dayton, Ohio

James Steele was born October 28, 1778, in Virginia, the son of Robert Steele and Agnes Coulter. Other children of Robert and Agnes Steele who came to Dayton included: Dr. John Steele (1791-1854), a doctor who came to Dayton in 1812; Samuel Steele (d. 1839); and Martha Steele (d. 1813), who married William McClure (d. 1812). In 1788, Robert Steele moved his family from Virginia to Fayette County, Kentucky, near Lexington.[1]

James Steele (Object # NCR.1998.L0368.041 from Dayton History. Used with permission.)

James Steele (Object # NCR.1998.L0368.041 from Dayton History. Used with permission.)

About 1805 or 1806, James came to Dayton, Ohio, and went into the merchant business with his brother-in-law William McClure, in the firm of McClure & Steele.[2]

On December 2, 1807, James entered into a business partnership with Joseph Peirce (whose sister Phebe he would later marry), as the firm Steele & Peirce. James constructed a brick building on the southeast corner of First and Main Streets, which housed a general store. The pair remained in business together until Joseph’s death in 1821.[3]

Articles of Co-Partnership, Steele & Peirce, 1807, pg 1

Articles of Co-Partnership, Steele & Peirce, 1807, pg 1 (FPW 38:14)

.

Steele & Peirce co-partnership signatures, 1807

Steele & Peirce co-partnership signatures, 1807 (FPW 38:14)

.

Steele & Peirce operator's license, 1808

Steele & Peirce operator’s license, 1808 (FPW 38:13)

During the War of 1812, James Steele served as a captain and was ordered to provide protection to citizens in the Ohio towns of Piqua and later St. Mary’s.[4]

In November 1812, James Steele married Phebe Peirce (about 1784-1861), daughter of Isaac Peirce and Mary Sheffield. Phebe was born about 1784 in Rhode Island.[5]

Phebe (Peirce) Steele (Object # NCR.1998.L0368.042 from Dayton History. Used with Permission.)

Phebe (Peirce) Steele (Object # NCR.1998.L0368.042 from Dayton History. Used with Permission.)

From 1815 to 1822, James was a director of the Dayton Bank. He became president of the Dayton Bank in 1822, following the death of the previous president (and James’s brother-in-law) Joseph Peirce. James also held the position as bank president until his own death in 1841.[6]

James was interested in many aspects of community life. He served for many years as a trustee of the Dayton Academy, as well as a trustee of Miami University. He was also an active supporter of the second building of the First Presbyterian Church, which was completed just before his death in 1841. He was also one of the original stockholders of the Woodland Cemetery Association and served as the Association’s first president.[7]

James Steele was also active in civic life, serving as an associate judge of Montgomery County for 14 years; an elector for the state of Ohio during the 1824 presidential election, in which he voted for his friend Henry Clay; and a senator in the Ohio legislature for 4 years, from 1834-1838.[8]

James Steele died August 22, 1841, and Phebe (Peirce) Steele died March 11, 1861. They are both buried in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.[9]

James and Phebe Steele had two children:

  1. Robert Wilbur Steele (1819-1891); and
  2. Joseph Peirce Steele (about 1821-1887).

Robert Wilbur Steele was born July 3, 1819, in Dayton, Ohio. He attended the Dayton Academy and Miami University. Robert was very active in many aspects of education in Dayton, including serving as a member of the Board of Education for over 30 years and being one of the incorporators of the Cooper Female Seminary in 1844. He was one of the founders of the Dayton Library Association and served as its director and president for many years. He also served as president of the Woodland Cemetery Association from 1858 until his death. Robert W. Steele was married twice. His first wife was Elizabeth Smith, and they had several children, including daughter Mary Davies Steele (about 1843-1897); his second wife was Clara P. Steele, with whom he had one child. Robert W. Steele died September 24, 1891, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[10]

Joseph Peirce Steele was born about 1821 in Dayton, Ohio. He was never married. He was identified as an “idiot” in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census. He died June 6, 1887, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[11]

*****

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] Robert W. Steele & Mary Davies Steele, Early Dayton (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 89, 115; Frank Conover, Centennial Portrait and Biographical Record of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio (Chicago: A. W. Bowen, 1897), 175; Montgomery County Genealogical Index, Dayton Metro Library; Lindsay M. Brien, Miami Valley Will Abstracts from the Counties of Miami, Montgomery, Warren, & Preble, in the State of Ohio, 1803-1850 (Dayton, OH: Lindsay M. Brien, 1940), 76; Lindsay M. Brien, A Genealogical Index of Pioneers in the Miami Valley, Ohio, 2nd ed. (Dayton, OH: Montgomery County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, 2007), 186, 124.

Sources disagree whether James Steele was born in Rockbridge County (Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 89) or Rockingham County (Conover, Centennial Portrait, 175).

[2] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 89; James Steele: McClure & Steele in Account with Samuel and George Trotter, 1806-1807, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 38:12, Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).

[3] John F. Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840 (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 116, 134; Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 89; James Steele: Steele & Peirce, Merchants – Documents and Letters relating to the Business, 1807-1821 [several documents], FPW, 38:14.

The business documents pertaining to Steele & Peirce includes the articles of co-partnership, dated December 2, 1807. The store remained until the 1860s, when it was removed to make way for the Turner Opera House.

[4] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 90-91; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 135; Conover, Centennial Portrait, 175.

[5] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 91; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org; U.S. Federal Census, 1850.

[6] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 90; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116.

[7] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 90; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 134-135.

[8] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 90; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 135; Conover, Centennial Portrait, 175.

[9] Conover, Centennial Portrait, 175; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[10] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 91-92, 200-201;Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 135-137; Conover, Centennial Portrait, 175-176; Charlotte Reeve Conover, Some Dayton Saints and Prophets (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1907), 49-77; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[11] Steele & Steele, Early Dayton, 91; U.S. Federal Census, 1850; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

Bio Sketch: Dr. John Elliot (d. 1809), first doctor in Dayton, Ohio

John Elliot was born in New York, probably sometime around 1760 or perhaps earlier. During the American Revolution, John served as a surgeon’s mate in a New York regiment until he was discharged at the end of the war in 1783.[1]

After the Revolutionary War ended, John Elliot was commissioned, in a document signed by George Washington, as a surgeon in the United States Army. He served in the west under Arthur St. Clair and Anthony Wayne. He was stationed for a time at Fort Washington, near Cincinnati, and he served with Wayne in the campaigns of 1794-1795, which resulted in the Treaty of Greenville. John was mustered out with the rest of his regiment, being honorably discharged on June 1, 1802.[2]

Fort Washington (Cincinnati), ca. 1790

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

In that same year, 1802, Dr. John Elliot came to Dayton, Ohio, to reside, becoming the second physician to make his permanent residence in the Dayton vicinity—Dr. John Hole had arrived earlier in Washington Township—and the first physician in Dayton proper.[3]

In addition to being the first doctor in Dayton, Dr. John Elliot was instrumental in forming the Dayton Social Library Association in 1805. This association was the first library authorized by the state legislature.[4]

Dr. Elliot was quite popular in Dayton, both socially and professionally.[5]

About 1789, John Elliot married Anna Dorett. Anna was born about 1774 and died about 1794. John and Anna had two children, both of whom were born at the military post in Vincennes, Indiana:[6]

  1. Julia Ann Elliot was born in February 1790.
  2. Henrietta Eliza Elliot was born in June 1792.

After the death of their mother, Julia and Henrietta went to live with Mrs. Jeremiah Hunt, of Cincinnati, who raised the girls along with her own family. The Hunts were family friends of the Elliots.[7] The Hunt brothers—Jeremiah, Jesse, and Abijah—were merchants as well as sutlers (merchants who sold provisions to soldiers in the army), so perhaps Dr. Elliot met them when he was stationed at Fort Washington, in Cincinnati.[8]

By 1805, the girls seem to have been residing with the family of Jesse Hunt, Jeremiah’s brother. This may have resulted when Jeremiah Hunt moved to Natchez, Mississippi, temporarily joining his brother Abijah there.[9]

In 1805, John Elliot addressed a letter to his daughter Julia “at Mr. Jesse Hunt’s, Cincinnati,” and in it, he instructed her to “pay the utmost respect to all Mrs. Hunt says to you.”[10] A few years later, when Dr. Elliot died, the letter sent to inform his daughters of his death was also addressed to Jesse Hunt.[11]

Dr. John Elliot's signature, 1805

Dr. John Elliot’s signature, 1805 (FPW 38:1)

Several letters from Dr. Elliot to his daughter Henrietta, between 1806 and 1808, instruct her to attend her studies and to respect and obey “Mrs. Symmes,” although the specific identity and role of Mrs. Symmes is not clear.[12]

Julia and Henrietta Elliot, aged 19 and 16 respectively, were still residing in Cincinnati when their father died rather suddenly on February 27, 1809, in Dayton, Ohio, having been ill only one day and two nights.[13] H. G. Phillips wrote to Jesse Hunt with the news, adding: “We should have sent for the Girls, but from the nature of his indisposition, we supposed it would be improbable to get them here in time.”[14]

H. G. Phillips to Jesse Hunt announcing death of Dr. John Elliot, 27 Feb. 1809

H. G. Phillips to Jesse Hunt announcing death of Dr. John Elliot, 27 Feb. 1809 (FPW 38:3)

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Invitation to John Elliot's funeral, 27 Feb. 1809

Invitation to John Elliot’s funeral, 27 Feb. 1809 (FPW 38:4)

Dr. Elliot was buried with military honors on February 28, 1809, including a military procession from his home on Water Street (Monument Avenue) to the Old Burial Ground on Sixth Street. His remains were later moved to Woodland Cemetery.[15]

John Elliot (d. 1809) grave marker, Woodland Cemetery, Section 77

John Elliot (d. 1809) grave marker, Woodland Cemetery, Section 77

Julia Ann Elliot, sometimes called Julianna, was born in February 1790 in Vincennes, Indiana. On July 16, 1809, at Cincinnati, she married Joseph Halsey Crane. Joseph H. Crane was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, August 31, 1782, and moved to Dayton, Ohio, about 1804. He was a Dayton lawyer and a state representative around the time of his marriage; he would later be a U.S. Congressman and a judge. He also fought in the War of 1812. Julia and Joseph Crane had twelve children, most of whom died as children, but two of their sons grew up and became lawyers: Joseph G. Crane and William Crane. Judge Joseph H. Crane died November 13, 1851, and Julia (Elliot) Crane died February 25, 1861. They are both buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[16]

Julianna (Elliot) Crane, undated

Julianna (Elliot) Crane, undated (Object # NCR.1998.L0008.062, Dayton History. Used with permission.)

Henrietta Eliza Elliot, sometimes called Harriet, was born in June 1792 in Vincennes, Indiana. On November 10, 1810, she married Joseph Peirce (1786-1821), a Dayton merchant. They had five children: Mary Ann Peirce, who married Edward W. Davies; David Zeigler Peirce; James S. Peirce; Jeremiah Hunt Peirce; and Joseph Crane Peirce. Joseph Peirce died on September 27, 1821, and Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce died on February 13, 1864. They are both buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[17]

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce, undated

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce, undated (FPW 37:21)

*****

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] W. J. Conklin, Pioneer Doctor: A Medical Sketch of Dayton, 1796-1825 (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1900), accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/page/page/1558641.htm; New York in the Revolution as a Colony and State (Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Co., 1904), 1:40; Harvey E. Brown, “Register of Medical Officers who Served to the Close of the Revolution and were Discharged in 1783,” in Historical Notes Concerning the Medical Department of the United States Army (Washington, DC: Surgeon General’s Office, 1873), accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/medicaldepartment/appendixa.html.

Brown lists “John Elliot” as a surgeon’s mate in the First New York Regiment; New York in the Revolution lists “John Elliot, Jr.,” as a surgeon’s mate in the Third New York regiment.

[2] Conklin, Pioneer Doctor; Ohio Adjutant General’s Office, and Daughters of the American Revolution, The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio (Columbus, Ohio: F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1929-1959), 1:125; Obituary of John Elliot, Dayton Repertory, 1 Mar. 1809, in FPW, 38:4; Harvey W. Crew, History of Dayton, Ohio (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889), 91-92; Howard Burba, “The Night They Dedicated the Library,” Dayton Daily News, 6 May 1934, accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/library.html.

[3] Conklin, Pioneer Doctor; Crew, History of Dayton, 92; Memoirs of the Miami Valley (Chicago: Robert O. Law Co., 1919), 2:179; John F. Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840 (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 143.

[4] Memoirs of the Miami Valley, 2:179; Burba, “The Night They Dedicated the Library.”

[5] Conklin, Pioneer Doctor; Sarah Schenck Crane, The Crane Family History (Cincinnati, OH: Ebert & Richardson Co., 1911), 55.

[6] Crane, The Crane Family History, 55-56.

[7] Crane, The Crane Family History, 55-56.

[8] Andy McMillion, “The Hunt Family of Jefferson County, MS: Genealogy and History,” accessed 20 Mar. 2012, http://jeffersoncountyms.org/hunt_family.htm; Cincinnati: The Queen City, 1788-1912 (Chicago & Cincinnati: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1912), 483.

[9] McMillion.

[10] John Elliot to Julia Elliot, 15 Dec. 1805, FPW, 38:1.

[11] H. G. Phillips to Jesse Hunt, 27 Feb. 1809, FPW, 38:3.

[12] John Elliot to Henrietta Elliot, 1806-1808 [several letters], FPW, 38:2.

[13] H. G. Phillips to Jesse Hunt, 27 Feb. 1809, FPW, 38:3.

[14] H. G. Phillips to Jesse Hunt, 27 Feb. 1809, FPW, 38:3. Several sources incorrectly state that John Elliot died on February 26, 1809 (Dayton Repertory) or March 26, 1809 (Crew and The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio). However, the date “February 27, 1809” is quite legible on Phillips’ letter, and clearly states that the doctor died “this morning at 3 o’clock.”

[15] John Elliot: Funeral invitation and obituary, FPW, 38:4; Conklin, Pioneer Doctor; Crew, History of Dayton, 92; Woodland Cemetery tombstone inscriptions. John Elliot is not listed in the Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database.

[16] Crane, The Crane Family History, 20-25, 55-56; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 92-94; “Joseph Halsey Crane,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present, accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000872; “Joseph Halsey Crane,” Wikipedia, last modified 17 Mar. 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Halsey_Crane; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[17] Crane, The Crane Family History, 55-56; Harvey W. Crew, History of Dayton, Ohio (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889), 143; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. See also Series III, Subseries 3: Joseph Peirce Family.

Bio Sketch: Joseph Peirce (1786-1821), pioneer, merchant, & banker in Dayton, Ohio

Joseph Peirce was born March 6, 1786, in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Isaac Peirce (1749-1821) and Mary Sheffield (1757-?). The other children of Isaac and Mary Peirce were: Phebe Peirce, who married James Steele; Samuel Peirce; Lucy Peirce; Elizabeth Peirce; and Eliza Peirce.[1]

Joseph’s father Isaac Peirce was a Revolutionary War veteran, having served in 1779 as an aide-de-camp to General Horatio Gates. Isaac was a shareholder in the Ohio Company and migrated with his family to Marietta, Ohio, in 1788, then became one of the founders of nearby Belpre, Ohio, in 1789. Isaac eventually moved to Dayton, Ohio, after his son Joseph, and died there on August 28, 1821.[2]

Joseph Peirce spent several years of his childhood living in the stockade at Belpre during the Indian Wars. He received a good education even on the frontier, because the Ohio Company had brought excellent teachers with them.[3]

In 1805, at the age of 19, Joseph Peirce moved to Dayton, Ohio, apparently at the urging of Daniel C. Cooper, who has been credited with influencing many of Dayton’s earliest important settlers to the town between 1804 and 1808. Joseph’s cousin Charles Russell Greene was another who came to Dayton at Cooper’s urging, about 1804 or 1805. Joseph’s and Charles’s mothers were sisters, and their fathers had both been shareholders in the Ohio Company.[4]

Joseph Peirce's signature, 1812

Joseph Peirce’s signature, 1812 (FPW 37:3)

On December 2, 1807, Joseph entered into a business partnership with James Steele (who would later marry Joseph’s sister Phebe). The firm of Steele & Peirce sold general merchandise, and the pair remained in business together until Joseph’s death.[5]

Articles of Co-Partnership, Steele & Peirce, 1807, pg 1

Articles of Co-Partnership, Steele & Peirce, 1807, pg 1 (FPW 38:14)

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Steele & Peirce co-partnership signatures, 1807

Steele & Peirce co-partnership signatures, 1807 (FPW 38:14)

.

Steele & Peirce operator's license, 1808

Steele & Peirce operator’s license, 1808 (FPW 38:13)

On November 10, 1810, Joseph Peirce married Henrietta Eliza Elliot (1792-1864), sometimes called Harriet, daughter of Dr. John Elliot. Henrietta was born in June 1792 in Vincennes, Indiana.[6]

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce, undated

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce, undated (FPW 37:21)

.

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce's signature, 1840

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce’s signature, 1840 (FPW 37:18)

In 1812, Joseph Peirce served on the Ohio legislature. In 1813, he was elected a trustee of the newly established Dayton Bank, and in 1814, he became its president, a position he held until his death.[7]

Joseph Peirce died on September 27, 1821, at the age of only 35 years, as a result of a fever which swept through Dayton, taking the lives of several other residents as well. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[8]

Henrietta (Elliot) Peirce died on February 13, 1864, probably in Dayton, Ohio, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[9]

Tombstone of Joseph and Henrietta Peirce, Woodland Cemetery, Section 77

Tombstone of Joseph and Henrietta Peirce, Woodland Cemetery, Section 77 (Photo by the author, 2011)

Joseph and Henrietta Peirce had five children:

  1. Mary Ann Peirce (1811-1880);
  2. David Zeigler Peirce (about 1813-1853);
  3. James S. Peirce (1815-1816);
  4. Jeremiah Hunt Peirce (1818-1889); and
  5. Joseph Crane Peirce (1821-1899).

Mary Ann Peirce was born in September 1811 in Dayton, Ohio. On November 24, 1829, in Montgomery County, Ohio, she married Edward Watts Davies (1802-1873). They had several children, including: Eliza Peirce Davies, who married Joseph Dart; Samuel Watts Davies, who married Eliza P. Howard; Lucy Z. Davies; Joseph Peirce Davies, who married Louie Phillips; Julia Crane Davies, who married Robert C. Schenck. Mary Ann (Peirce) Davies died September 24, 1880, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[10]

David Zeigler Peirce was born about 1813 in Dayton, Ohio. On December 15, 1842, in Montgomery County, Ohio, he married Eliza Johnston Greene (1821-1885), daughter of Charles Russell Greene and Achsah Disbrow. David died August 17, 1843, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[11]

James S. Peirce was born May 1, 1815, probably in Dayton, Ohio. He died May 15, 1816, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[12]

Jeremiah Hunt Peirce was born September 8, 1818, in Dayton, Ohio. On June 9, 1846, in Dayton, Jeremiah Hunt Peirce married Elizabeth Hannah Forrer (1827-1874), daughter of Samuel Forrer and Sarah Howard. They had eight children: Samuel Forrer Peirce; Henrietta Elliot Peirce, who married Henry Eugene Parrott; Edward Davies Peirce; Sarah Howard Peirce; Mary Forrer “Mellie” Peirce; Elizabeth Forrer Peirce; John Elliot Peirce, who married Mary Frances Harsh; and Howard Forrer Peirce. J. H. Peirce married Mary Forrer as his second wife. Jeremiah H. Peirce died on May 6, 1889, in Dayton, Ohio, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.[13]

Joseph Crane Peirce was born January 13, 1821, in Dayton, Ohio. On December 23, 1856, in Montgomery County, Ohio, he married Louise Smith. They had no children. Joseph C. Peirce died September 24, 1899, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[14]

*****

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] Harvey W. Crew, History of Dayton, Ohio (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1889), 143; John F. Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 1796-1840 (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 116; Robert W. Steele and Mary Davies Steele, Early Dayton (Dayton, OH: United Brethren Publishing House, 1896), 80; Ohio Adjutant General’s Office, and Daughters of the American Revolution, The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio (Columbus, Ohio: F.J. Heer Printing Co., 1929-1959); Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org; “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.

[2] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[3] Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80, 88.

[4] Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80, 87-88; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Roz Young, “Dayton Final Resting Place for Cincinnati’s First Mayor,” Dayton Daily News, 20 Aug. 1994, accessed 14 Mar. 2012, http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/youngdanielcooper.htm. See also Series III, Subseries 6: Cooper/Greene Family.

[5] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 80. Business documents pertaining to Steele & Peirce can be found in Series III, Subseries 5: Steele Family. The articles of co-partnership, dated December 2, 1807, can be found in Box 38, Folder 14.

[6] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. See also Series III, Subseries 4: Elliot Family.

[7] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116.

[8] Crew, History of Dayton, 143; Steele and Steele, Early Dayton, 81.

[9] Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[10] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 211-212; Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 25 Jan. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[11] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116; Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[12] Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[13] Frank Bruen, Christian Forrer, the Clockmaker, and his Descendants (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1939), 106-129; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116-117; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. See also FPW, Series II: Jeremiah H. Peirce Family.

[14] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity, 116-117; County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 19 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 20 Dec. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

Bio Sketch: John H. Howard (1813-1878), lawyer in Dayton, Ohio

John H. Howard was born October 5, 1813, in Belmont County, Ohio, the son of Horton Howard (1770-1833) and his third wife Hannah Hastings (1774-1833).[1]

John Howard (object NCR.1998.L0010.070 from Dayton History, used with permission)

John Howard (object # NCR.1998.L0010.070 from Dayton History. Used with permission.)

.

John H. Howard's signature, 1832

John H. Howard’s signature, 1832 (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 36, Folder 7)

Beginning in 1832, John attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He first attended the grammar school for the year 1832-1833.[2] He entered the sophomore college class in 1834. While at Kenyon, he was a member of the prominent literary society, the Philomathesian Society. John graduated from Kenyon College with an A.B. degree in 1837.[3]

Letter from John to his sister Sarah, 18 Sept. 1833, discussing school at Gambier

Letter from John to his sister Sarah and brother-in-law Samuel Forrer, 18 Sept. 1833, discussing school at Gambier (Dayton Metro Library, FPW, Box 36, Folder 8)

John moved to Dayton, Ohio, in 1839, and read law in the office of Odlin & Schenck. He was admitted to the bar in 1840. John was a lawyer in Dayton for nearly 40 years, several of which he practiced with Daniel A. Haynes in the firm Haynes & Howard, one of the best firms in the state. In later years, he practiced law with his son William, first as John Howard & Son, then as Howard & Howard.[4]

John served as mayor of Dayton from 1848-1854. In the 1876 election, John ran as a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress from Ohio’s 4th district, losing by less than 100 votes to the Democratic candidate John McMahon.[5]

John Howard contested the 1876 Congressional election but still lost after a re-count (Dayton Journal, 10 Nov. 1876)

John Howard contested the 1876 Congressional election but still lost after a re-count (Dayton Journal, 10 Nov. 1876)

On June 21, 1841, in Hamilton County, Ohio, John married Ann E. Loury, daughter of Fielding Loury, Sr. Ann was born about 1818 or 1819 in Troy, Ohio.[6]

John H. Howard died on May 8, 1878, in Dayton, Ohio. His wife Ann died September 14, 1886. They are both buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[7]

John Howard (back row, center) and family, Woodland Cemetery, Section 66

John Howard (back row, center) and family, Woodland Cemetery, Section 66 (Photo by the author, 29 Oct. 2011)

John and Ann had at least seven children, although only two of their children lived to adulthood:

  1. William Crane Howard (1842-1900);
  2. Eliza P. Howard (about 1844-1884);
  3. Ann Howard (about 1845-1853);
  4. Alice Howard (1847-1848);
  5. Horton Howard (1850-1853);
  6. Mary Howard (about 1850-1853); and
  7. John Howard (1854-1860).

William Crane Howard was born April 24, 1842, in Dayton, Ohio. From August 1862 until April 1863, William served as a second lieutenant in the 17th Independent Battery Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery. [For more on William’s Civil War service, see “A Tale of Two Howards,” especially Part 5, here on my blog.] He studied law with his father, and the two practiced law together from 1864 until John’s death in 1878. On December 5, 1865, in Montgomery County, Ohio, William married Anna Keifer (about 1843-1879). They had four children: Eliza K. Howard, Ann E. Howard, Louise Howard, and John H. Howard. Shortly after the death of his wife in 1879, William moved, with his children and his widowed mother, to the Cincinnati area, where he was a U.S. Clerk. He later moved to the San Francisco, California, area, where he died October 30, 1900. William was buried next to his parents and siblings in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio.[8]

Eliza P. Howard was born about 1844 in Dayton, Ohio. On May 18, 1871, Eliza married Samuel Watts Davies (1838-1919), son of Edward Watts Davies and Mary Ann Peirce. They had three children: Mary D. Davies, Edward Watts Davies, and John Howard Davies. Eliza P. (Howard) Davies died May 9, 1884, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.[9]

*****

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] Howard Genealogical Information, FPW, 36:20; John Howard to his family, [several letters], 36:7-8. John signed a few of his letters “John H. Howard.”

[2] Several letters from the time period of the August 1833 cholera outbreak are addressed to John at Gambier, Ohio. Also, according to Kenyon College historian Tom Stamp, it was not unusual for a young man of John’s age (19 or 20) to enter the grammar school at Kenyon, during that time period.

[3] Personal correspondence from Lydia Shahan, special collections assistant, Greenslade Special Collections & Archives, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, 19 Mar. 2012. John Edgar, in Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity (1896), p. 113, incorrectly states that John graduated in 1839.

[4] Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 113; David C. Greer, Sluff of History’s Boot Soles: An Anecdotal History of Dayton’s Bench and Bar (Wilmington, OH: Orange Frazer Press, 1996), 75; Dayton City Directories.

[5] “Mayors of Dayton” List, Dayton Metro Library Local History Question & Answer File; Greer, Sluff of History’s Boot Soles, 75; “How Soldiers Voted in Ohio: Why a Democrat was Elected to Congress from a Republican District,” 21 Oct. 1876, Cincinnati Enquirer, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer, 1841-1922; Dayton Journal, Aug.-Oct. 1876 [several articles].

[6] Ohio, County Marriages, 1790-1950 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 25 Jan. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Edgar, Pioneer Life in Dayton, 112-113; U.S. Federal Census, 1860; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org.

[7] Obituaries of John Howard, 10 May 1878 and 11 May 1878, Dayton Daily Journal; obituary of Ann E. Howard, 15 Sept. 1886, Dayton Daily Journal; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. John and Ann Howard are buried in Section 66, Lot 125.

[8] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. X (Akron: Werner Co., 1889), 583; Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865 (database), Ancestry Library Edition; Dayton City Directories; U.S. Federal Census, 1850-1900; Great Registers of California, 1866-1898 (database), Ancestry Library Edition; Obituary of William C. Howard, [1900], in James O. Oliver scrapbook, Vol. II, Part 2, page 180, Montgomery County Historical Society Collection, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. William is buried in Section 66, Lot 127.

[9] U.S. Federal Census, 1850-1880; Augustus W. Drury, History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909), 2:84-87; Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958 (database), FamilySearch, accessed 12 Mar. 2012, http://www.familysearch.org; Ohio Births & Christenings Index, 1800-1962 (database), Ancestry Library Edition; Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum Interment Database, accessed 26 Oct. 2011, http://www.woodlandcemetery.org. Eliza is buried in Section 66, Lot 127; her husband was later buried beside her.