Thursday, September 23, 2010


Dayton Stone

Stone quarries were the leading industry in Montgomery County Ohio in the mid to late 1800's.

Soon after Dayton was settled, it was obvious there was a great deal of limestone in the area. Farmers were not happy about this fact but later it was determined this stone was valuable.

In 1914 state geologist J. A. Bownocker published a book titled Building Stones of Ohio. He quoted Dr. Orton, who did a Geological Survey of Ohio in 1869, as having written "In Montgomery, Miami and Greene counties the shale contains, in places a very valuable building stone which is widely known as the Dayton stone." He also wrote it was "in every way adapted to the highest architectural uses."

Dayton stone or Dayton Marble as it is sometimes called, is light gray, very compact and strong. It does contain some small iron pyrite crystals which can leave dark spots which look like rusty nail heads, after weathering.

When "Dayton Marble" Brought in Millions was an article in the February 7, 1937 issue of the Dayton Daily News written by Howard Burba. In the article Burba states that in 1827 a Mr. Gallaher advertised he was hiring "able-bodied men to work in the quarries southeast of Dayton". This was the earliest reference Burba found to local quarries.

The Bownocker book says the largest quarry in the Dayton area was in Beavertown, around the present day Dorothy Lane and Wilmington Pike intersection.

Burba lists many quarry owners. Among them he mentions John and Allen Fauver who ran the Wade quarries. He says they began to cut the stone. In earlier times Burba explains fire was built under the rock and thus cracked with the heat.

Stone from the local quarries was used to build many local buildings: several church buildings, the old Library Building in Cooper Park, the old Court House built in 1850 and the newer one erected in 1884. The stone was also sold to far away markets.

Canal building increased the demand for stone since it was needed for the building of the locks.

New quarries were then opened in Belmont near Wayne Avenue and Watervliet.

Only one road led to the quarries and transportation was a problem. To solve this dilemma a type of "railroad" was built from the quarries to the new canal. The rails of this railroad were made of tough hickory and the flat-bed cars that ran on it had grooved wheels to fit the rails. Gravity pulled the cars down the slopes and teams of horses were used to tow them across the flat areas. A stone yard was created between Patterson Boulevard and Wayne Avenue to receive the transported stone.

According to Burba, in order to give a smooth or polished surface to the rough stone, stone cutting and dressing was introduced in 1836 by James L. Wuichet from Switzerland.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stokes, Amanda

Amanda Stokes, born in 1820 and raised on a farm near Waynesville, overcame personal tragedy and grief by serving those in need.

Stokes' fiancée was killed during the Civil War. She responded to this loss by selling her wedding trousseau and other personal items and raising about a thousand dollars. After serving in local hospitals, she volunteered to be a nurse for the Northern Army. Her parents, Ellis and Hannah Morgan Stokes, other relatives, and friends discouraged her choice. She persisted.

Accepted by the army, she served at Stone River, Chattanooga, Chicamaugua, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. The thousand dollars was spent to buy delicacies and relief items for the soldiers in her care whom she called "her boys".

Hazel Spencer Phillips, an employee of the Warren County Historical Museum wrote a column called "Our Museum" in the 1940's for the Western Star, a Cox newspaper. In 1942 Phillips gave a speech in which she described Stokes' appearance. She wrote, "Amanda Stokes had dark brown naturally curly hair which she wore in curls about her head, parted in the middle. She had rather heavy dark brows and brown glowing eyes."

While working at the Chattanooga Hospital, Stokes was asked to take a wounded Lieutenant to another facility. The horses drawing the ambulance became frightened when crossing the Chattahoochee River. They ran off the bridge and into the water. Stokes managed to escape from the ambulance by breaking the wooden top with her head. Both Stokes and the patient were rescued by four soldiers who had seen the accident. The Lieutenant died a few days later and Stokes' health suffered ever after. The ambulance and all of her records were lost in the river.

By the end of the war Stokes had spent most of her funds and had difficulty obtaining a pension. The loss of her papers contributed to the problem. In 1878, due in part to the efforts of "her boys", Stokes was appointed a matron at the Ohio Sailors' and Soldiers' Orphans' Home in Xenia. She later became their librarian.

Finally, Stokes received a small pension, thanks to the persistent efforts of several citizens of Warren County.

Stokes died on March 25th, 1885. Her services were conducted at the East Baptist Church in Lebanon by Reverend Sumrall, pastor of the church. He was assisted by ministers from the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Christian Churches. Members of the Grand Army of the Republic attended and served as pall-bearers. The casket was draped with the American flag and topped with a beautiful floral wreath from the Home in Xenia. The Lebanon Gazette of April 1, 1885 reported the following, "The services were not protracted, but were peculiarly impressive, and many tearful eyes in the crowded audience attested to the deep affection and esteem in which the deceased was held in this community, where she has been so long and favorably known."