Tag Archives: maps

Five Oaks

Before it was a neighborhood…or even a park…it was a house. Five Oaks was the name that Jeremiah H. Peirce, a local lard oil manufacturer and later lumber dealer, gave to his 1854 home, apparently naming the estate after “five stately oak trees” situated on the four-acre property (Dayton History; Burroughs; FONIA).

I thought I would share some photos and information about the Five Oaks estate, as a nice, light entry for around the holidays.

This annotated map shows the location of the J. H. Peirce and boundaries estate in 1875. A lot of these old maps don’t show street names, so I’ve added the (current) street names to help you get your bearings in the map:

Location of Five Oaks, 1875

Location of Five Oaks, 1875

(You can view a high resolution version of the original Harrison Township map on Dayton Remembers, Dayton Metro Library’s digital images collection.)

Charles Sullivan, well-known in the Montgomery County Historical Society (now Dayton History) many decades ago, reminisced about the area in the late 19th century, mentioning two homes in particular that were off the west side of Forest Avenue (or, Tate’s Mill Road, in early accounts):

Opposite Shaw ave. a lane ran up to the home of Samuel Forrer, a two story brick, still standing. He was a well known civil engineer… He had six children and the descendants are still [1943] in the locality.

Opposite Neal ave. was the lane running up the hill to “Five Oaks” the residence of J. H. Peirce, a son-in-law of Samuel Forrer. He had 8 children and was in the lumber industry at the corner of Wayne and State now a railroad yard.

Here is a current Google Map showing the area now known as Five Oaks. The little green splotch of Five Oaks Park (northwest corner of 5 Oaks Avenue and Squirrel Road) is where the Five Oaks estate was originally. Samuel Forrer’s home was located on part of the Grandview Medical Center property.

And now for the really good stuff: pictures!

Since many of us probably have gingerbread on the brain right now, I thought it might be fun to share a different kind of “gingerbread house” — gingerbread in the sense of Victorian architectural embellishments. The Five Oaks house had some really neat “gingerbread” around its eaves, as you will see.

This photo, probably from the late 1860s or early 1870s — I suspect those two little boys are Jeremiah’s two youngest children, J. Elliot and Howard; the woman, probably his wife Elizabeth (who died in 1874) — shows what the Five Oaks mansion looked like in its early days:

Five Oaks, before the tower was built

Five Oaks, before the tower was built (Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection)

About 1890, an addition, including a tower, was built on the north end of the house:

Peirce Homestead [Five Oaks]

Peirce Homestead (Lutzenberger Collection)

Here’s a wonderful cyanotypephotograph, showing roughly the same view but from a little further back, so you can see the trees:

Five Oaks cyanotype

Five Oaks (Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection)

After the tower was added, people sometimes referred to the Peirce house as “The Castle on the Hill” (Dayton History).

In a 1980 article about the Five Oaks neighborhood, long-time resident George Loney had this to say about the Peirce homestead (quoted from Burroughs):

There was still a lot of open land around here when I was a kid, and I sure remember that old Peirce castle. It really was a castle. The stones had been imported from Europe, there was a turret and what looked like a dungeon underneath. It was all hidden in the woods and surrounded by three ponds. Mr. Peirce used to hang a rope with a noose on it in the woods to scare us off. I guess we did get on his nerves–all the kids in the neighborhood used to sneak around there. Of course, the castle’s gone now…

The “Mr. Peirce” of this anecdote must refer to J. Elliot Peirce, the only “Mr. Peirce” that Loney could have known in his childhood. J. H. Peirce died in 1889; J. Elliot was his son. Members of the Peirce family lived at Five Oaks until the 1930s: J. H.’s second wife Mary lived there until 1929 along with two of J. H.’s unmarried daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth, both of whom died in 1930. I don’t think J. Elliot actually lived at Five Oaks with his family — Mary, Sarah, and Elizabeth lived there — but according to city directories, he did live very nearby  for a while, at 551 N. Old Orchard Ave., according to a 1919-20 directory; that same directory lists the others at “nec [northeast corner] Five Oaks and Old Orchard Ave.”

In 1946, the four-acre was purchased by the city for a park, and the house was razed (Burroughs; Dayton History). Five Oaks Park now occupies the land.

For more information on Five Oaks or the Peirce family, come see us at the Dayton Metro Library, Local History Room (basement of Main); or feel free to leave a comment on this blog. If photos are what you’re after, check out our Flickr set about the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection.

This post was written in advance on Dec. 17, 2011.



Burroughs, Virginia. “Diversity helps keep Five Oaks neighborhood vital.” Dayton Daily News, 8 Aug. 1980, p. Z6-15. Available in Dayton Local History Room, Clippings File #3908 (Neighborhoods–Five Oaks).

Dayton City Directories. Available at the Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

Dayton History. “Five Oaks.” Accessed 15 Dec. 2011.  http://www.daytonhistory.org/archives/who_fiveoaks.htm.

Everts, L. H. Combination Atlas Map of Montgomery County, Ohio. Philadelphia : Hunter Press, 1875. Dayton Remembers: Preserving the History of the Miami Valley. Accessed 17 Dec. 2011 through Dayton Remembers: http://content.daytonmetrolibrary.org/cdm/; or, find in a library.

Five Oaks Neighborhood Improvement Association (FONIA). “Five Oaks History.” Accessed 3 Dec. 2011. http://www.fiveoaksdayton.com/credits.html.

Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. This collection is publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. Many photos from the collection can be seen at the DML Flickr site, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmlhistory/.

Lutzenberger, William. “The Peirce Homestead.” Photo #0541. Lutzenberger Collection (MS-024), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. Photo available online: http://content.daytonmetrolibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/lutzenberge/id/630.

Sullivan, Charles F. “The Covington Pike” (15 Sept. 1943). In Sullivan’s Papers, 425-437. Dayton, OH: Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1995?. Available at the Dayton Metro Library, call no. 977.173 S949S. Transcription accessed, 15 Dec. 2011, at: http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/covington_pike.html.

Notes on the American Archivist’s 2011 issues

Today is my last day of work until after Christmas. I hit a nice stopping point on my current project yesterday, and so today, rather than get started on the next bit and then leave it for a week, I opted to pass this nice, quiet Wednesday by catching up on some professional reading materials, namely the last couple of issues of the SAA publications American Archivist and Archival Outlook.

The items that most caught my eye in the Spring/Summer issue of American Archivist were Christopher Prom’s article on using Google Analytics with your archives web site (I do love stats!) and the two items on pertaining to Kate Theimer (author of the ArchivesNext blog), including her article on “Archives 2.0” and the review of her book Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History. (It’s funny: I did a review of that book myself here on this blog [June 18, 2011] , shortly before I realized it had been reviewed in American Archivist.)


I found two items from the Fall/winter 2011 issue particularly interesting as well, and I have a little more to say about these:

Jean Dryden’s article “Copyfraud or Legitimate Concerns? Controlling Further Uses of Online Archival Holdings” had some interesting findings. The study showed that archives sometimes use watermarks or “terms of use” statements in an attempt to maintain control over how people use the the archival materials they have posted online. Sure, we all know that’s true. But the article pointed out that in some cases, repositories incorrectly place their “terms of use” requirements under the heading of “copyright” when really there may be no actual “copyright” issue involved. When this happens, it is a case of “copyfraud,” or “asserting false claims of copyright.”

I had never heard that term before — copyfraud — but I’m certain I have seen examples of it.

One example: it always bugs me when I see a photo that is clearly public domain slapped with a “copyright” symbol. Just because you scanned it, doesn’t mean you own the copyright or that it even has a copyright. (Archivists often prefer to digitize images that are public domain because they don’t present copyright concerns.)

Now, I’m not a copyright lawyer by any means, so I don’t know…perhaps there are some “copyrights” to be had with respect to the digital version of the photo. For instance, if I snapped a (no-flash) photograph of a friend standing in front of an historic painting, I obviously don’t own the rights to the painting, but I own the rights to the snapshot I just created.

I often wonder how much some archival respositories really understand about the limits they can place on use of their materials — mainly the ones that have those iron-clad statements demanding “prior written permission” for basically all types of use.

What about fair use for educational purposes or non-commercial purposes? What if I want to write a little historical sketch on this blog and include a brief quote from a primary source that has been slapped with one of those strict terms of use statements? I don’t make any money off this; I cite my sources; I at least try to keep things relatively educational. In my opinion, that’s fair use.

Another item of consideration is the whole published/unpublished thing. I’m not just talking about whether I plan to publish my thing that cites your thing. I’m talking about whether the original thing in question was ever published to start with. The whole “pre-1923 is safe” thing is specific to published works. If we’re talking about something that was never published, there are some different rules, hinging on the death date of the author. (Check out this sweet “Is it protected by copyright?” slider created by the ALA if you need help figuring out whether something is copyrighted.)

So what do you do if you want to cite an unpublished manuscript written by someone who died in 1850, but it has one of those weird, super-restrictive use statements attached to it? Since the author died more than 70 years ago and the work is unpublished, it is supposed to be public domain, and theoretically you should not need permission to use it. But I think we have all seen repositories with use statements quite to the contrary, even though the material is super-old and unpublished. So, which is it? Which is right? I honestly don’t know for certain — I reiterate: I’m no lawyer.

But as someone who is generally gun-ho for sharing information, knowledge, and history, in the case of something that appears (based on copyright) to be “public domain,” I don’t think I would worry too much about using said source and even including a few quotes (all with proper attribution, of course). Because as far as I can tell, such restrictive use statements–on material that to all (other) outward appearances is public domain–seem to over-step the boundaries of what the institution can really demand or expect–let alone enforce. Unless there is some fancy language that can be added to the Deed of Gift that supercedes regular copyright laws (in which case, by all means, please show me your signed deed of gift along with your uber-restrictive use statement).

But getting back to Dryden’s article… Let me be clear: as I understand it, an institution is only guilty of “copyfraud” per se if they claim a “copyright” that they do not actually hold. If similar claims are made under the heading of “Terms of Use”, it’s not “copyfraud” but may still (as Dryden said) “be compromising their core mission of making their holdings available for use.”


The other really interesting article in the Fall/winter 2011 issue was Boyer, Cheetham, and Johnson’s case study “Using GIS to Manage Philadelphia’s Archival Photographs.”

They discussed a project is that the City Archives of Philadelphia has established a GIS-mapped Photo Archive at www.phillyhistory.org. Essentially, the site lets users search photographs depicting more than 150 years’ of Philadelphia’s history…but thanks to GIS, which geo-tags each photo with its location, users can search not only by keywords or time periods (or several other criteria) but also by location (street, intersection, neighborhood, etc.).

To put it simply, this project is completely awesome.

What they’ve done is similar to what one might accomplish using HistoryPin; or by geo-tagging images in Flickr and then using a site like iMapFlickr or GeoSlideShow (something I dabbled in a bit, making this map of the photos of the 1913 Flood district in Dayton, Ohio).

However, the PhillyHistory.org project is just more robust, with the best of both worlds: a searchable database chock-full of useful metadata, along with photos, and mapping. And since their system is apparently “home-grown”, they were able to make it just the way they wanted it, from the get-go. It makes me think of what could happen if CONTENTdm (with its powerful database workings and potential for granularity) and Flickr (with its geo-tagging) got together and had a baby but without any messy work-arounds. You can even view an historic photo and then click a button right on the same page to show you the GoogleMaps StreetView of the same scene.

Check out this picture of Independence Hall as an example. Pretty awesome, right?

Obviously, Philadelphia is pretty cool. But as an archivist and local history reference librarian in Dayton, Ohio….I spend a lot more time thinking about historic photographs of–you guessed it–Dayton. So of course my mind goes straight to : How cool would it be to have something like this for Dayton?  Moreover, wouldn’t it be awesome if all the institutions in the area could collaborate on something like this? Sure, it might just be a pipe dream, but it’s still fun to dream about. It would be lovely if I could search one big database to see if there are any pictures of such-and-such-a-place. (Then again, even the Philly project doesn’t claim to include all the photos of each location, of course. But hey, if I’m dreaming…I’m dreaming big.)

Honestly, we don’t usually have too much trouble helping people find photos of relatively well-known buildings in town, even if they no longer exist. I’m talking about the “big” buildings that are (or were) right downtown (or in a lot of cases, the mansions of prominent Daytonians that were there before that).

But people often — not, like, herds every day, but more than you’d think — come to the library looking for historic photos of more “ordinary” buildings, also: usually, their homes. And we have to shake our heads sadly and say, “No, we just don’t pictures of things like that, unless your house is ‘famous’,” like if the guy who owns the Bossler Mansion showed up — yeah, we probably have some historic photos of that.

But anyway, I always think to myself about the photographs in the Montgomery County Auditor’s database. I wonder how or if those photos are preserved or kept beyond their usefulness in the database itself. How often are they updated? Do they keep the old ones? Are there any prints or negatives that go along with them, or were they born-digital? 

It’s the kind of thing that gets created for a particular, immediate purpose and would get “outdated” and replaced periodically for its primary purpose…….but the older the photos get, the more “historical” they seem to become. Okay, sure, we don’t have photos of every house from 1900. But in 100 years, the photos-of-every-house-from-the-year-2000 will probably be pretty darn interesting to these house-history researchers, and it would be so lovely if we could say, “Well, we don’t have any at the library, but they have a huge archive of photographs from the Auditor’s Office, dating back to the early 2000s.” 

Honestly, I should really contact someone at the Montgomery County Records Center & Archives and ask about this, because it’s been chewing on me for a while.


Anyhow… I just wanted to muse and share about some neat things I read in the American Archivist today. Hope you enjoyed the discussion.

If anyone has any legal-ese perspectives on the whole “copyright / copyfraud / what if it should be public domain but has weird terms of use restrictions placed on it?” thing, I’d be interested to hear it.

Same with the Montgomery County Auditor’s photographs. Because if those are saved along with all the other records at the MC Records Center, that’s going to be a total gold mine once the photos are old enough to make people “ooh” and “ahh” over them.

Geo-tagged Images of the 1913 Flood

I recently wrapped up a project at work that I’ve been working on for a few weeks now: geo-tagging images of the 1913 Flood in Dayton, Ohio, using images on the Dayton Metro Library’s Flickr and a web site called GeoSlideShow, which creates the maps from geo-tagged images on Flickr.

There are two maps:

  • 1913 Flood “During” – This map shows images when the city was actually flooded.
  • 1913 Flood “After” – Images on this map show the aftermath and clean-up in the city, including debris, mud, dead horses, crumbled buildings, and ruins from fires that broke out.

I am very excited about having completed this project, because I think it is a great visual aid to understanding the flood and its history. It’s one thing to look at several (or in this case, hundreds) of photos of the flood and think, “Oh, how awful.” I think it’s more helpful to be able to contextualize those images in geographic space. Marking the photo’s location on a current map can help people understand, because they may be able to picture what’s there now or perhaps realize that maybe they drive by that spot every day and that in 1913 it was under water!

Please note: The Dayton Metro Library has over 400 photos and postcards of the 1913 flood. I was not able to geo-tag all of them, so not every image is shown on these maps. If I could not pinpoint the exact location of an image (or approximate within about 1 city block), I did not geo-tag it, so it will not appear on these maps. (And let me tell you, it was a fun challenge trying to figure out the location of the image, based on descriptions and businesses shown in the picture!)

All of the Dayton Metro Library’s 1913 flood pictures can be seen on Flickr, as well as in the library’s digital collections.

Fun with the U.S. Census

The Federal Census of the United States has been taken every 10 years since 1790 to collect population statistics, with the primary purpose of determining how many seats a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. (For example, the population of Ohio shrunk between 2000 and 2010, so Ohio will be losing 2 Congressional seats when it comes time to elect a new U.S. Congress.)

But in addition to affecting legislative representation, there are a number of reasons why the census is useful and interesting from a historical point of view. The demograhpic information, such as race and income, that is collected can tell us lots of nifty things.

For instance, check out this neat map mashup of 2010 census data posted by the New York Times. You can view color-coded maps showing race and ethnicity, income, housing, and education. You can view a nationwide map or zoom way in to show your own neighborhood. The official 2010 census web site has some cool data maps as well, such as one showing populations changes from state to state from 1910 to 2010.

If you are looking for more detailed information about a particular city, you might try the FactFinder on the U.S. Census Bureau web site. At the FactFinder web site, you could find facts for a particular city such as: population, median age, median household income, per capita income, racial percentages, education levels, and many other stats. Another great thing about the FactFinder is that many small towns are included, not just cities or “metro areas.” Don’t believe me? Here’s the FactFinder for Lucasville, Ohio, a town of about 1,500 people. I just love the FactFinder for getting a general demographic sense of a place that I know nothing about.

The people who probably get the most “general public” use out of U.S. Census data, however, are probably genealogists (myself included). Finding a relative on the census means connecting that person to a specific location at a specific time. Census years up to 1840 only record the head of household and then count of the people in the house. However, in the year 1850 and afterwards, there is a lot more useful information, such as family members’ names and ages (at the very least). Certain years asked questions like place of birth, relationship to the head of household (wife, son, mother-in-law, servant, etc.), occupation, birth date (not just age), number of children born to the mother, number of years married, year of immigration, etc. If you are curious exactly what questions were asked in what years, check out Ancestry.com’s downloadable blank census forms for years 1790-1930. They didn’t ask quite as many questions on the 2010 census, but at least names and ages were still collected.

Unfortunately (for us genies) but understandably (to due very legitimate privacy concerns), the individually identifiable information data is not released until it is 72 years old.  But, that means the 1940 census names will be coming out in 2012! Hooray! Hmm…I just realized that if I’m alive when the 2010 individual census info is released (if it even is released, who knows what privacy laws will be like then!), I will be 100 years old. Oh my!

I recently read a good article from CNN about using the census for family history research. There are many genealogy web sites that are sure to have tips, and of course there’s always your local genealogical society or library local history/genealogy department. Odds are, the library can help you search the census using microfilm or an Internet database, such as the free FamilySearch or the subscription site Ancestry (which the library probably has a subscription to, by the way).

But here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind when using the census for genealogy:

  • ** The info is only as good as the information giver, the information recorder, and the combination thereof. **
  • Don’t assume the names are spelled right. The census taker may not have even asked how the name was spelled.
  • Explore the possibility that the name was spelled wrong. If you don’t find your grandfather’s last name spelled under the correct entry of “Kiser”, try “Kaiser” or “Kizer” or “Kayser.” Also, if you have a name that is often misspelled, you migth want to check into a magical little thing called the SOUNDEX.
  • Don’t assume the ages are correct. (If someone came to the door and asked your dad how old all of his kids were, do you think he’d get them all exactly right?)
  • Don’t assume you “know” where they were. One side of my family has lived in Scioto County, Ohio for almost 200 years…and yet one year I found them in some random distant county of Kentucky; the next census they were back again. I wouldn’t have believed it was them except the guy had several children and the names and ages all matched up…

The bottom line is: Don’t assume…anything, really. You never know what you’re going to find. That’s one of the things that makes the census fun and interesting…..and sometimes incredibly frustrating.

Anybody who thinks history isn’t interesting hasn’t done real history. And the U.S. Census is one big giant chunk of real history. So check it out.

Escape from “Venice”

Did you know that Dayton, Ohio, was almost named “Venice”?

Neither did I, until today. One of the great things about being a local history reference librarian: I swear I learn something new almost every day.

From Early Dayton (Dayton: Shuey, 1896) by Robert W. Steele and Mary Davies Steele, page 20:

In 1789 Major Benjamin Stites, John Stites Gano, and William Goforth formed plans for a settlement to be named Venice, at the mouth of the Tiber, as they called Mad River.  The site of the proposed city lay within the seventh range of townships, which they agreed to purchase from John Cleves Symmes for eighty-three cents an acre.  The deed was executed and recorded, and the town of Venice, with its two principal streets crossing each other at right angles and the position of houses and squares indicated in the four quarters outlined by the streets, was laid out on paper.  But Indian troubles and Symmes’s misunderstanding with the Government forced the to abandon the project, and “we escaped being Venetians.”

First off, I do my Classics professors a disservice if I don’t complain about the idea of a city called “Venice” on a river called “Tiber”. They could have at least picked a river that is anywhere near Venice. Although, I guess in the grand scheme, the Tiber (which runs through Rome) is technically closer to Venice than, say, Ohio.

But I can definitely see why they would have thought “Venice” an appropriate name for a city surrounded by so much water. After all, just look at it:

The Great Miami River runs right through the city. The Mad River dumps into the Great Miami here also. It was quite an excellent spot to build a settlement, for purposes of transportation and commerce, so the effort was certainly was not abandoned.

After the Treaty of Greenville was signed in 1795, a different group of investors purchased the land that was to become Dayton. These men were (also according to Steele, pg. 20): General Arthur St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory; General Jonathan Dayton, afterward Senator from New Jersey; General James Wilkinson, of [Anthony] Wayne’s army, and Colonel Israel Ludlow, from Long Hill, Morris County, New Jersey.

And so Dayton was instead named for Jonathan Dayton, who, as I understand it, never stepped foot in the city.

If you would like to read more of Steele’s Early Dayton, you can read the entire text of the book (but no pictures) at Dayton History Books Online. Or, visit the Main branch of the Dayton Metro Library to read it in original book format.

Montgomery County real estate mapping

I just noticed something new on the Montgomery County (Ohio) Auditor’s web site – http://www.mcrealestate.org/. They have a new app for property mapping. (It says it’s still under construction, but it does have some functions already.) 

Go to the web site, click on property search, and then search for a property. On the property page, you’ll notice a link to “New maps (under construction).” If you click on it, it will show you the parcel map with that property highlighted. I think they always had something like this, but this new map has some additional cool features. (Note: the new map takes a few seconds to load. It will display an “under construction” note at first, but after a couple of seconds, the map does appear.)

There is a tool on the new map where you can select any parcel and it will tell you the information (owner, address, value) in a little pop-up bubble.

There is also a (new) feature to show you info about a parcel you identify from the map, without knowing the owner or the exact address. To do this, click on the binoculars at the right, then select the icon that looks like a computer monitor (“identify parcel”). A little instruction bubble pops up, click “place point” to go back to the map. Then click on the parcel you are interested in, and a little red dot will appear on it, and an info bubble will pop up telling you the information about that parcel.

Pretty cool! I’ve been waiting for this! Now you don’t necessarily have to know the owner or the exact address to get the info about a piece of property. I’m very excited. I know it will be useful for local history research.