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Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
— As the war soldiers on in the South over what to do with memorials to Confederate generals and soldiers, we are reminded that Dayton has its own towering monuments.
None, however, pay tribute to those who died in service to the Confederacy.
Ohio History Connection, a nonprofit formed in 1885 as the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, says 310,654 Ohioans served as part of the Union Army in the Civil War.
That was the third largest number of soldiers from any Union state.
More than 35,000 Ohioans died fighting the war, the organization’s website says.
Here are three Dayton-area memorials that remind us of their efforts.
THE DAYTON PRIVATE
More than 100,000 people watched Montgomery Country dedicate the Union Soldiers’ Monument on Main Street on July 31, 1884.
The ceremony came less than two decades after the end of the Civil War.
Its model was Pvt. George Washington Fair, a Dayton-born carpenter and bricklayer who mustered into the Union Army in 1861 and out in 1865.
The marble monument was moved to Sunrise Park on Riverview Avenue in 1948 and returned to Main Street in 1991.
It was damaged by the elements and replaced in bronze form. The original statue of Private Fair is now located under a portico at the VA Hospital.
A beardless scultpture of slain U.S. President Abraham Lincoln that transformed Courthouse Square was unveiled Saturday Sept. 17, 2016.
The 11-foot-tall bronze tribute commissioned by the Lincoln Society of Dayton shows Lincoln before his election as the nation’s first Republican president. It commemorates his speech in Dayton on the steps of the Old Court House on Sept. 17, 1859 as part of his tour of Ohio.
The speeches Lincoln gave laid out his arguments against slavery and are credited with helping him win his party’s presidential nomination.
Elected in 1960, Lincoln was president during the Civil War over slavery and states’ rights.
John Wikes Booth assassinated Lincoln on April 15, 1865 in Washington D.C.’s Ford Theatre.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army just five days before Lincoln’s murder, ending the Civil War.
THE FIRST MAJOR
Martin Robison Delany was inducted into the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame on Sept. 22, 2016.
President Lincoln appointed Delany field rank major in 1865. He was the highest-ranking African-American officer in the Civil War and the only one to attain his rank.
The Hall of Fame is in Dayton’s Wright-Dunbar neighborhood.
>> Neighborhood Guide: Wright-Dunbar
Delany was born in Charles Town, Virginia in 1812 and died January 24, 1885 in Xenia. Delany, an abolitionist, physician, and editor in the pre-Civil War period, advocated black people emigrating out of the country to achieve equality.
In his time, he had been both a Democrat and Republican.
His papers were destroyed in a fire at Wilberforce University on April 14, 1865, according to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Encyclopedia Virgina, “leaving scholars forever to wonder which of his writings they haven't read and what other directions his mind might have taken him.”
A friend of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, Delany’s gravesite can be found at Massies Creek Cemetery near Wilberforce, where he practiced medicine until his death on January 24, 1885.
A newer monument to Delany was erected near the Civil War-era tombstone that misspelled his last name.
A marker was installed near the PPG Place complex in downtown Pittsburgh in 1991, recognizing Delany’s historical importance.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— Would you like to learn about a building that officially brought two villages together to become one city?
In this installment of our ongoing series The Buildings of Dayton, we share the story of the Fairborn Theatre, located at 34 S. Broad St. in downtown Fairborn near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
HOW IT GOT STARTED
Phil Chakeres (1885-1971) — a native of Tripoli, Greece who immigrated to America in 1900 at the age of 15 — founded the Chakeres Amusement Company (now Chakeres Theatres, Inc.) in 1911. It started with the 150 seat Princess Theatre in Springfield, Ohio.
Shortly after the end of World War ll, Chakeres enlisted architects Lloyd Zeller and Herman Hunter of Springfield, Ohio to design a new movie theater that would serve the neighboring villages of Fairfield and Osborn as part of the theater chain's post-war expansion plans.
THE STORY BEHIND THE NAME
Zeller and Hunter applied the Art Moderne architectural style, a continuation of Art Deco, to their design. After breaking ground in fall 1945, the C.W. Fry Construction Co. of Greenville, Ohio built the theater in just over two years. Chakeres was confident enough that the villages of Fairfield and Osborn would eventually merge that he dubbed his cinema the Fairborn Theatre, a combination of the two villages names. This was the first business in town to use the name Fairborn. (And when the cities did officially merge, guess where that milestone was celebrated?)
>>NOW OPEN: New business brewing in downtown Fairborn
THE FIRST FILM
Dedication of the 1,000-seat theater was held on January 27, 1948 with a showing of "Where There's Life," starring Bob Hope, Signe Hasso & William Bendix.
Movie-goers entered a circular lobby with an ornate chandelier as its centerpiece. Showcased just beyond the lobby doors before entering the cinema, a mural painted by Vincent V. Chalmers — a landscape artist from Detroit — featured WWII era airplanes flying above a pastoral scene with an Airman and Airwoman from the Army Air Corps and Women's Army Corps looking on.
On the exterior, a lighted sign with the name FAIRBORN stood on a 48-foot tower to greet anyone entering the city on Broad Street.
>>RELATED: 22 reasons to visit Fairborn
In 1973, the theater was converted into a "twin cinema" with two screens showing movies and was subsequently renamed "Fairborn Twin Cinemas."
After the last showing of "Three to Tango" and "Runaway Bride" in January 2000, the Fairborn Theatre officially closed its doors.
The Chakeres Family donated the building to the Fairborn Performing Arts and Cultural Association (FPACA) in April 2002.
The Fairborn Theatre left an immediate and lasting impression on Chad Wells of Dayton.
"My first memory of seeing a film at the Fairborn Theatre was around 1978 or '79. It was the premiere of the movie 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.' My uncle had free passes and we got lost on the way to the theater, arriving about 10 minutes after the movie had already started. I remember the lights on the front of the building were so intense and bright that I felt like I was in a movie walking up the red carpet to some old Hollywood premiere. The theater was beautiful, lavish and one of a kind. The detail and decor made an impression on my young mind that what I was experiencing was of some importance — much different than the Cineplex's that would become the standard that we still know today and were starting to crowd our local shopping malls. The Fairborn Theatre, like the Kon-Tiki on Salem Avenue and so many other previous cinema landmarks, was one of the last theaters of its kind in our area that made the movie-going experience one to remember and cherish," said Wells.
A HISTORIC ACCOMPLISHMENT
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 27, 2005. There are only two other properties in Fairborn listed on the register: the Mercer Log House (built 1799, added to NRHP on October 16, 1981) and the Bath Township Consolidated School, now known as the Fairborn Senior Apartments (built 1924, added to NRHP on Sept. 22, 1983).
The FPACA made efforts over a 10-year period with mostly volunteers and a sparse budget to restore the theater into a community performing arts center. Projects included: asbestos abatement, roof maintenance and removal of the middle wall from its twin cinema days to bring back the original one-room theater.
However, the FPACA was unable to raise enough capital to see the restoration project to its fruition.
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE
Before the Fairborn Development Corporation (the City of Fairborn government's economic development department) took control of the property on March 14, 2016, most of the theater's contents and furnishings were removed by the FPACA.
This included the mural from the theater's lobby that was moved to the Fairborn Senior Center after an extensive restoration.
Will the lights on this historic theater's marquee shine brightly again?
"As a city, we are seeking and building relationships aimed at activating the Fairborn Historic Theatre as a usable space in our community. We hope to facilitate projects that will aid in the revitalization of our historic landmark,” said Fairborn's City Manager Rob Anderson.
Do you have memories of the Fairborn Theatre? Share them on our Facebook post below:
Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— Kind-faced Dayton Mayor Lawrence Butz may have died eons ago, but the mark his facial hair left on this city will live forever.
Butz’s simply beard-tastic photo is among the impressive collection of beard-tastic photos hanging in Dayton City Hall, 101 W Third St., downtown.
Stand down, hipsters -- you can’t compete. The beard on Butz is not even the best beard.
THAT BEARD, in our assessment, belongs to E.C. Ellis, Dayton mayor in 1864 and 1867.
Give that boy a barrel of bourbon and see what he can do.
There are plenty of smooth faces among the images of Dayton’s mayor, but for the purposes of this report, we will ignore them.
As it turns out, Francis M. Hosier’s bushy all-business beard and mustache is far more interesting.
We vote yes.
The bulk of the beards cover the faces of Dayton’s first mayors. See for yourself in the video above.
Butz, the first to enroll in St. Mary's School for Boys (the foundation for what is now The University of Dayton), for instance, was Dayton’s mayor in 1875 and from 1878 to 1879.
We are sure the ladies thought he was styling.
All that said, the city’s bearded mayors don’t stop there.
Richard Clay Dixon, mayor from 1987 to 1992, and James H. McGee, mayor in 1970 and 1981, represent the 20th century with magical facial hair of wonder.
Though his face is clean-shaven for his City Hall photo, Gary Leitzell, Dayton mayor from 2010 to 2013, was known to have a little facial scruff, but it was no William H. Sigman.
Fun Fact: the leader of Dayton’s council didn't hold the title of "mayor" until 1829.
Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 2:10 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 2:10 PM
Columbus — The Craigslist Killer is appealing his death sentence to the Ohio Supreme Court, saying the huge swell of national publicity deprived him of a fair trial in Summit County.
The high court will hear oral arguments next week from Richard Beasley, one of two people convicted in the murders of three men lured to a southeastern Ohio farm with job postings on Craigslist.org in 2011.
Beasley was convicted in 2013 of three murders, attempted murder of another man, robbery, kidnapping and other charges and sentenced to death. His co-defendant Brogan Rafferty, who was a minor at the time, was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Beasley advertised a farm caretaker job on Craiglist. When Ralph Geiger of Akron, David Pauley of Virginia and Tim Kern of Massillon responded to the job ad, Beasley shot them in the head.
A fourth man, Scott Davis, of South Carolina, escaped when he was shot in the elbow. Davis ran for help and police began investigating.
In his appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, Beasley is making 11 legal arguments to challenge his convictions and sentence, including improper use of hearsay testimony against him and pre-trial publicity prejudiced the jury in the case.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office maintains that the hearsay evidence was admissible and Beasley never raised concerns at the time of trial about the publicity surrounding the case.
The case, which was investigated by the FBI, generated international headlines.
Rafferty, now 22, is incarcerated at Mansfield Correctional Institution. Beasley, 58, is on Death Row at Chillicothe Correctional Institution.
Published: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 @ 10:43 AM
— What better place for a spooky good time during Halloween than a cemetery?
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, located at 118 Woodland Ave., Dayton, just released an app that makes it easier to visit the 109,000 people buried there since it opened in 1841.
The free “Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum” mobile app is available for Apple and Android devices.
Users can search by name: first, last or both. They can also take a pre-designed tour. Thus far, only Woodland’s 45-minute self-guided historical tour has been added.
Angie Hoschouer, the cemetery’s development and marketing manager, said self-guided versions of several other tours, including those featured on the sold-out and extremely popular History, Mystery, Mayhem and Murder Tour, will be added as well. Those featured on the tour can be found on the app.
Below are four bone-chilling gravesites you should visit. Details on the gravesites and individuals buried there is from Woodland Cemetery, Dayton History Online and the Dayton Daily News archive.
Deceased: Christina Kett
Section 100 | Lot 2179 | Tier 3 | Grave 13
Death: March 9, 1884 at age 65
The mystery of who killed pretty 18-year-old Christine Kett Jun. 11, 1867 lingered for 17 years.
Suspects had included Christine’s brother, a neighborhood teenager, a stranger seen in the area when the murder was committed, her boyfriend and even her own mother, Christina.
A deathbed murder confession revealed the truth.
Before taking her final breath, Christina Kett told her son that she bludgeoned Christine in the head with a short-handed axe when the young woman did not come home on time to make dinner.
In an attempt to cover what was considered the city’s “most horrible and fiendish” crime at time, Kett place her daughter’s fingers in the powder flask of her son’s revolver and smeared the Christine’s face with powder.
She reportedly told her son that that the young woman’s image haunted her from that day forward.
Deceased: Maggie Lehman
City Lot | Lot #1 | Tier 20 | Grave 18
Death: Sept. 19, 1891 at age 36
The blue-eyed and blond “lady of the night” had four children and made a vow to turn her life around after they were taken away and placed in the Children’s Home.
Jacob Harvey, the pimp and boyfriend Maggie had met in the brothel formerly owned by famed Dayton madam Lib Hedges, was having none of this.
He abused Maggie, and was sent to the Dayton Workhouse for 60 days.
Maggie eventually got her children back, but Jacob would not go away -- even after Maggie claimed to have a new boyfriend, Newton Chubb, a bartender at the brothel which by then was called “the Abbey.”
Jacob beat Maggie again when she refused to leave Newton and date him again. He was sentenced again to the workhouse.
While in jail, Jacob told officers and other prisoners he would escape and kill Maggie and her new boyfriend.
They laughed, but he did just that.
Jacob escaped and left the area, only to come back to town to find Maggie at the Abbey.
He was seen dragging the woman from the brothel’s porch and shot her behind the ear with a revolver, according to Woodland’s description of the crime.
After the shooting, Jacob walked to the Point saloon and asked the owner, Al Bloch, for a glass of beer. Then, living a cigar, he remarked, “I just killed a damned bitch down there. I shot her twice.” Harvey then went on to relate the rest of the particulars of the crime to the astounded barkeeper.
Jacob Harvey was hung on June 28, 1892.
>> MORE: 5 of Dayton's most shocking murders
THE GHOST ON THE BRIDGE
Deceased: Bessie Little
Section 111 | Lot #3009 | Tier 3 | Grave 15
Death: Sept. 2, 1896 at age 23
Albert J. Frantz was accused of shooting his pregnant lover Bessie Little on the Ridge Avenue Bridge on Aug. 27, 1896, and trying to pass her death off as a suicide.
Bessie's decomposed body was found floating in the Stillwater River. Prosecutors argued that Albert murdered the 23-year-old because he did not want to marry her.
According to a piece titled “The Story of the Bessie Little Bridge” by former Dayton Daily News columnist and local historian Roz Young, then-Dayton Chief Farrell “testified at the preliminary hearing that Frantz told him he had taken Bessie for a ride in his rig and that as they approached the bridge, she shot herself twice in the head. He panicked when he realized he might be blamed for her death and threw her body into the river.”
Prosecutors said the first bullet killed Bessie, so there was no way she could have shot herself that second time in the head.
Her head was brought into the courtroom on the second day of the trial causing many to faint. Coroner Lee Corbin removed it from the jar it was stored in to show jurors the path of the bullets.
The jury didn’t believe the whole "she shot herself twice in the right ear" defense. They found Albert guilty after six days and more than 100 witnesses. He professed his innocence until the day he was executed by the state on Nov. 19, 1897. Albert was only the fourth man in Ohio history to meet death in the electric chair after the current was turned on and off five times. He could be heard groaning after each turn. Disowned by her adopted family due to her pregnancy, Bessie was at first buried in Potter’s Field.
The family had the body moved to Woodland Cemetery shortly after Albert’s execution.
Bessie’s ghost is said to haunt the Ridge Avenue Bridge, which is nicknamed the Bessie Little Bridge. The bridge she died on was replaced in 1927. That bridge was demolished in 2014 as part of a $5.2 million Ridge Avenue Bridge project. A new bridge took its place.
>> HISTORICAL CRIMES: This Dayton landlady helped nab infamous bank robber John Dillinger
STOVE TOP KILLER
Deceased: Mary Knight
Dayton State Hospital Section
Last year, Dayton History staged a re-enactment of Mary Knight’s 1895 murder trial.
Mary would not win the world’s greatest daughter award. This only child with an “appetite for strong drink” was tried for the bloody death of her mother Catherine “Grandmother Hark” Hark.
The supposed murder weapon: the cross-piece of a stove top covered in hair and blood.
Mary moved into her mother’s cottage on North Urbana Street after she and her husband had a violent fight. The women fought often due to Mary’s drinking, and neighbors often walked into the house to try to make peace between them.
Screams broke out the morning of May 10, 1895, and neighbors debated in their front yards if they should call police.
Mary walked out of the house and stumbled down the street. Neighbors assumed she was “drunk again,” and went back into their own homes.
A short time later, a man spotted Mary standing on the porch looking into the window.
“Horrible! Horrible! Look,” she screamed, according to Woodland’s account.
Mary denied killing her mother, but was convicted on what the judge called “circumstantial evidence.”