Tag Archives: thresher-mccann

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

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

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

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

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

Cooper Female Academy, undated

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

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

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

Homes on Robert Boulevard, undated

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

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

Laura and Mary Thresher in Europe, 1892

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

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

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

***

Mary M. Thresher & Frederick P. Beaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beaver family plot in Woodland Cemetery

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

***

Laura H. Thresher & Benjamin F. McCann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCann family plot in Woodland Cemetery

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

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

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

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in July 2012 for the Thresher-McCann Collection (MS-036) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654.

Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original paper finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[23] “Mrs. McCann…Dies.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ebenezer Thresher (1798-1886)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barney and Smith Car Company in 1889

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

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

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

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

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

Home of Ebenezer Thresher

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

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

Ebenezer Thresher's signature, 1880

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tombstone of Ebenezer Thresher in Woodland Cemetery

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

.

Headstone of Ebenezer Thresher in Woodland Cemetery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

This biographical sketch was originally written by Lisa P. Rickey in July 2012 for the Thresher-McCann Collection (MS-036) finding aid at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, Ohio, 45402; phone (937) 496-8654.

Additional information about the sketch’s subject can be found in that collection. For more information about the manuscript collection’s contents, please see the original paper finding aid available in the Local History Room of the Dayton Metro Library, the OhioLINK EAD Repository entry.

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


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

[2] Colby, 4.

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

[4] Colby, 9-11.

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

[6] Colby, 18-20, 30.

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

[8] Colby, 20-28.

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

[10] Colby, 28-32.

[11] Colby, 28-32-33.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[21] Colby, 73.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southwest corner of First and Main (2012)

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

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

[29] Colby, 86-87.

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

[31] “Death of Ebenezer Thresher.”

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

99 Years of Dayton Photographers

How does anyone ever have an original idea anymore? Obviously, some people manage to do so, because new things still keep coming along. And yet, it seems like most of the time, whenever I think, “There really oughtta be X,” there already is X, and I just hadn’t found it yet.

A recent example of this phenomenon occurred to me recently, with regard to an historical listing of Dayton photographers.

For the past few months, I have been processing the Thresher-McCann manuscript collection. In addition to loose papers and scrapbooks, the collection includes 260 (yes, exactly 260 – I just finished numbering them yesterday) photographs, the majority of which are unidentified. From the very few identified ones, I have been able to “tentatively” identify some of the people in others. (I have become pretty adept at recognizing Mary and Laura Thresher, but that’s about it. I don’t know the rest of the people from Adam. Well, okay, unless it’s woman; then I don’t know her from Eve.)

However, many of the photographs have the photographer’s name, city, and sometimes street address printed on them somewhere.

Sometimes on the front:

Appleton and Hollinger (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0045)

Appleton and Hollinger (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0045)

.

Grossman and Owings (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0047)

Grossman and Owings (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0047)

.

Bowersox (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0046)

Bowersox (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0046)

Sometimes on the back:

A. Yount (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0176)

A. Yount (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0176)

.

Roger's Portraits (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0048)

Roger’s Portraits (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0048)

.

M. Wolfe (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0049)

M. Wolfe (Dayton, Ohio) (ms036_0049)

And sometimes, the photorapher’s name is not even on the portrait, per se, but is written on one of those horribly acidic, construction-paper-feeling folders that old photographs are often stored in. (So if the photo came in a yucky folder or envelope, check for — and record — any useful info before casting that awful thing aside!)

I’ve actually elected to organize the unidentified photographs according to state, city, and photographer’s name, because it seemed like the most logical way to hopefully get photographs that originally went together, to remain together, not knowing who any of the people are.

As archivists know, one of the tasks in describing materials is to (hopefully) identify the date(s) of the materials, either from a given date (woohoo! I love when things are already dated!) or to make an educated guess if possible (which you would either put in brackets and/or add some relative words — e.g., circa, about, approximately, before, after, etc.).

So, putting those last two paragraphs together, you get the thought that kept going through my mind : Man, it would be awesome if I had an index to Dayton photographers, where I could look up the photographer’s name alphabetically and get the listings (hopefully with the different addresses of their various studios over the years), along with the dates when they operated at each location —- which could then be used to establish an approximate time frame for the photograph(s) in question.

Once I finished organizing the photographs, I finally got around to checking the library catalog to see whether we already owned such a book. Failing that, I was going to ask around to my co-workers and Dayton archives colleagues, to find out whether such a thing existed (and maybe Dayton library just didn’t have it for some reason). And failing THAT, I was prepared to roll up my sleeves, cozy up with the Dayton city directories, and produce the thing myself.

Well, lo and behold — the thing does already exist. Of course. Ha!  I’m not sorry that someone has already done all that work for me; it’s just another one of those things — it figures that this awesome idea was already had by someone — apparently Richard D. Fullerton…before I was even born. Ha!

The index I am referring to is 99 Years of Dayton Photographers (1982) by Richard D. Fullerton.

We have several copies of the book at the Dayton Metro Library — unfortunately for you who may wish to borrow it, they are all non-circulating, so you’ll have to use it in the library (all copies live at Main) [but some other local libraries have it too] — so I retrieved one and set about trying to narrow down a time frame for some of the undated Dayton photographs (such as those above).

The book has a helpful introduction. Fullerton lists the sources that he used (including city directories, census records, photographs themselves, and others), and he also cites those sources throughout the book, to tell where he got a particular piece of information about a name, date, or location.

Fullerton also gives information in the introduction about the approximate years of use for different kinds of photographs, also identifying the photo process’s hey day, which can help with dating photographs as well.

Having archival training and a copy of Ritzenthaler & Vogt-O’Connor’s photo preservation book, aka my photo archives Bible, I already had a pretty good idea of those approximate time periods. But, it was a great idea to include them, since some photographers worked for many years in Dayton (*cough*Bowersox*cough*), and so simply having the dates of the shop didn’t narrow it down much.

Between knowing which types of photographs were popular when, and having access to Fullerton’s book, I was able to established somewhat more useful dates — okay, anything is more useful than “Undated” — for the Dayton imprint photographs. Now, unfortunately, most of the unidentified photos in the collection weren’t actually made in Dayton, so Fullerton’s book can’t help me with those.

I don’t suppose anyone knows of a book like this for Cincinnati? 🙂

In any event, I am pleased that I found the Fullerton book. It definitely saved me a lot of work. (Now, don’t get me wrong, a bunch of completely unidentified photographs don’t usually warrant searching all those city directories just to get a slightly-more-useful-than-“undated” date that I can stick in a finding aid. I mean all the work that I would have done creating an index of long-lasting usefulness — like Fullerton did!)

One more thing : Even having those narrower dates isn’t necessarily all that helpful to me, someone who doesn’t know the names or the faces of the unidentified people. I think it would be a lot more useful to genealogists — if you have a photo, and you know who it is, but you’re wondering, “How old is great-great-grandma in this picture?” Or, “Could that be Great-Uncle James? Was he even still alive then?” Or….you get the idea. But hey, sometimes having a place and an approximate date and a location could narrow down the other unknowns quite a lot for you, depending on how your family history played out.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this little jaunt into one of my “there should really be…if there’s not, I’m so going to…oh wait, there already is…okay, good…using that now” moments.

Hello, sailor!

Today’s post is pretty light-hearted and silly, but hopefully you’ll enjoy nonetheless.

When I saw this post from the Derangement and Description blog today, it made me chuckle. Apparently, the blog’s author Rebecca was one of the winners of the SAA haiku contest with her haiku (and visual aid) about a handsome man in a daguerreotype photo she found.

I was reminded of the site My Daguerreotype Boyfriend, which a friend of mine shared with me a few months ago. The purpose of the site is summed up in its subtitle : “Where Early Photography Meets Extreme Hotness.” Basically, it’s a place to share digital representations of really old photos depicting attractive men. (Despite the site’s name, it actually appears to be quite optional whether the original photo is an actual daguerreotype.)

Anyway, I was reminded of a photo I came across recently in the Thresher-McCann Collection (MS-036) at the Dayton Metro Library:

Unidentified Civil War Sailor

Unidentified Civil War Sailor

I have no idea who this young man is, except to say that I believe he was in the Navy during the Civil War, based on the insignia (an anchor) on his hat. (If anyone can give me a better description of his rank, etc., I’d be glad to hear it. I am far from an expert on Civil War uniforms.)

The only identifying marks on the photo are to indicate the photographer : J. P. Ball, 30 W. 4th St. With a little investigating, I was able to discover that James Presley Ball was an early African American photographer in Cincinnati. (The Cincinnati Historical Society Library has a large collection of his photographs and even has an online database of J. P. Ball photos; however, this photo was not among them.)

Is it just me, or is it rare to come across a really old photo (say, 19th century) that depicts someone you actually find attractive? I suppose that is probably because we have different ideas today about what physically attracts us. For instance, the men in most of the old photos I’ve seen are usually — well, old, for one thing (maybe because photos were probably expensive and people didn’t spend money on them until they were already old and successful?) — and I think something about the hair styles — not to mention the beards; oh, they loved their beards! — back then just…well, they’re definitely not what you’d see on, say, People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive.

Perhaps this young man just wasn’t old enough to grow a good beard yet, which could explain why he lacks one. He reminds me a bit of a young Josh Hartnett. ‘Course, that’s a different war (Pearl Harbor movie). And oh wait, we’re not talking about a movie here; this is an actual Civil War soldier. Any way you slice it, he was born over 150 years ago and may very well have died about 150 years ago also. I really don’t know! (Oh, how I wish I knew his name…)

And, guys, don’t worry, I’ve got a photo to show you, too. It’s also from the Thresher-McCann Collection. When I saw this stunning (and also unidentified) girl, I knew I’d just have to share:

Unidentified Girl

Unidentified Girl

 She reminds me of a cross between Scarlett Johannson and Kristen Stewart. What do you think? I think it’s something about her eyes. And her skin. And her eyebrows. And her expression. There’s just something about her. Maybe it’s her hair. And although her clothes are plaid and plain, she looks like she’d be just as at home in a sequin gown. I can’t even picture this woman in a period-appropriate “fancy dress” — my imagination takes her straight to a red carpet.

Well, anyway, there really wasn’t much of a scholarly point to this post (if any at all), but I just wanted to share some interesting photos that I found.

The material discussed here is from the Thresher-McCann Collection (MS-036), which can be found at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. For more information on the collection, contact the library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.