Wednesday, June 3, 2009


John Hivling

By Rosalie Yoakam

John Hivling was born on July 14, 1779 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and later moved to Maryland. He married Sally Ankney in 1799. In 1809, the Hivling family moved to Greene County where Hivling purchased a mill which he operated for about two years.

When he was elected sheriff of Greene County, Hivling sold the mill and moved his family into Xenia. He served as sheriff for four years, from 1812-1816. In this office, by order of the court, he administered the last public whipping. Robinson's History of Greene County says of the incident, "…the degrading punishment was well deserved, as the crime of which the rascal had been convicted was of the vilest order,…(Hivling) fairly carried out the sentence of the court in spirit and letter as the scamp hugged a small sugar tree on the public square."

While serving as sheriff, Hivling bought a corner lot at Detroit and Main Streets in Xenia. A log building was on the property. From this building he operated a hotel called the Hivling House, which became the foremost hotel of the town.

Hivling next bought a thousand acres outside of town and lived there for a short while. His property was north of present day Church Street and extended as far as the current Fair grounds.

In 1815 Hivling entered the mercantile business when he bought out a storekeeper named Davis. He purchased all of the store stock as well as a lot and building on Main Street.

Hivling was an early supporter of the Little Miami Railroad locating in Xenia and was made a member of the first board of directors.

When the Xenia Bank was organized, he was appointed President of the bank. It later became the State Bank of Ohio and he was one of the largest stockholders. He also served on the state board of control of the bank.

Hivling was a charter member of the Xenia branch of the Masons.

Broadstone's History of Greene County, Ohio states, "He was interested in the first bank, …Little Miami Railroad, and in every feature of the life of Xenia which promised to make it a better and larger city."

Robinson's says, "In all his business connections, in banking, in railroad management and in mercantile matter, he was noted for his clear practical good sense."

The Hivlings' had thirteen children, eleven girls and two boys. Oral history says that when the daughters married the parents gave them a cameo pin, a gold watch and chain, and a new house as wedding gifts.

John Hivling died on November 4, 1860 and is buried in Woodland Cemetery, Xenia, Ohio. Broadstone's claims that, "At his death…he was the wealthiest man in the county."

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