Monday, May 4, 2009

John Shroyer

John Shroyer

By Rosalie Yoakam

John Shroyer, an important figure in the history of Oakwood, was born in 1794 in Frederick County, Maryland.

Accompanied by his brother Jacob, he moved to Montgomery County, Ohio in 1810 when the region was in the early stages of development. The Shroyer brothers, deciding they liked the area, returned to Maryland and brought their widowed father, Jacob, back. He later became the first person to be buried in David's Cemetery on Mad River Road.

John met Elizabeth Shonk who had moved to Ohio in 1806 with her mother and step-father. The Shonk's first settled on 160 acres near present day Far Hills Avenue. Two acres were cleared and a log cabin made from the timbers thus obtained. Elizabeth's half-sister, Mary, later recalled that in the early years wolves and panthers roamed the woods and Indians stopped at the cabin to beg or trade. Eventually Mr. Shonk bought a total of 700 acres. His property was between Far Hills Avenue and Kettering Boulevard and included much of what is today the Dayton Country Club.

John Shroyer and Elizabeth Shonk were married in 1817. They had six children.

The Shroyers first bought 160 acres of land on the east side of Far Hills Avenue. Later land purchases brought the total holdings to 410 acres. Approximately bounded by today's Far Hills Avenue, Triangle Avenue, Wilmington Pike, and Lonsdale Avenue, it covered much of the center part of modern day Oakwood.

John was a Jeffersonian Democrat and a member of the German Reformed Church. He was a strong supporter of education. Elizabeth taught neighbor children, as well as her own, how to read and write. Their home was the first "school" in the area.

The Shroyer farm house was at 25 Hadley Avenue. The bricks of the house were made from local clay and burned in a home-built kiln on the front yard. Oak timber from the nearby forest was used in the construction. The joists were mortised and tenoned. Wrought-iron nails were used in the finishing work and hand-forged hardware, some of which was imported from England was installed. The flooring was ash and each room had a fireplace. The outside steps were large stones; the largest weighed three tons. The stones were hauled on sleds from the Centerville quarry by oxen. Keys for the house were about six inches long.

The house was torn down in 1960 and an apartment building built in its place.

John Shroyer died in 1876 and Elizabeth in 1895. Both are buried in David's Cemetery.

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