A new Moraine Historical Marker was recently erected designating Moraine’s First Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse, located at 3564 Vance Road, is now a private residence but has quite a history.
In 1883, county authorities established District 12. The first school was held in farmer Felix Yeasal’s living room, located about 200 yards west of the intersection of Vance and Sellars Roads. The first teacher was Miss Anna Christman who went on to a 40 year teaching career.
In 1885, a brick building was erected on land the township board of education bought from Isaac Lesher and was located on the corner of Vance and Pinnacle Roads at the foot of Pinnacle Hill. This was Moraine’s First Schoolhouse. Albert Patterson was the first teacher and had a special helper, a bearded man called the “hermit” who kept a cabin near the school and visited it frequently. He assisted the teacher and students by starting a fire in the stove each morning during cold weather. In 1890, attendance at District No. 12 school was 14 pupils and in 1891 only six children attended.
Children at the school were treated to quite a surprise in August 1914. A story told years ago by former Moraine Mayor Carl Gerhardt, he remembers when his teacher Mrs. Prass heard that the Wright Brothers were testing their new hydro-aeroplane (seaplane) on the nearby Miami River in Moraine. Mrs. Prass dismissed the class so that all of the students could go down to the river and watch. Mayor Gerhardt commented on how thrilled the students were to see this rare accomplishment of Orville Wright taking off and landing in the river.
In 1924 the smaller school districts throughout the county were consolidated. Many one and two room schoolhouses were closed and combined into larger modern facilities. District No. 12 was dissolved and consolidated into West Carrollton Exempted Village School District. The schoolhouse is now a private residence so the public is asked to respect the privacy of the owners.
This new Moraine Historical Marker is the 16th erected in the city. The first ten markers were dedicated in 2015 as part of the City of Moraine’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Completed in 1845, the 274 mile canal linked Lake Erie with the Ohio River and canal boats brought pioneers, food and goods to the Miami Valley. The canal ran north-south through Moraine and was located where present day Dryden Road and Arbor Blvd. are. Boats up to 80 feet in length were towed along the canal tow path by mules, horses or oxen at four or five miles an hour.
Canal Lock #22, which lowered or raised the water level, was located at the corner of Dryden Road and East River Road.
What people don’t know is that a toll house for the canal was located at the corner of Dryden & Kreitzer Roads and still stands today. The structure was a small log cabin but it is located within the house that was built around it. The house has been used by a Moraine business.
The individual running the toll house would collect a fee from people or businesses using the canal boat.
The canal was just west of the toll house. The dried-out canal bed (Photo#2) served as a small sandlot baseball field in the 1960’s and 1970’s for the local kids that lived next door in the mobile home court.
At the end of the Civil War, the country faced the unprecedented challenge to care for the tens of thousands of disabled veterans who fought to preserve the Union. Due to president Abraham Lincoln’s appeal to Congtress following the Civil War (1861-1865), several National Homes for Union veterans were established across the country to provide domiciliary care, meduical and hospital treatment for all injuries and diseases. Indigent and disabled veterans received care at the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers located four miles north of the new Moraine Historical Marker. The National Home was built with great architectural buildings and grand gardens for not just recovering soldiers, but for patriotic tourists who traveled from near and far to pay respect to the veterans.
Many veterans traveled Soldiers Home Road to reach the “Soldiers Home”. Population at the Gettysburg Soldiers Home peaked in 1884 with 7,146 resident veterans. Over 600,000 tourists visited the home in 1910. Other Civil War road names in Moraine include Union Road and Infirmary Road.
Several Moraine pioneers fought in the Civil War including the Holderman family who lived just north of the Moraine Historical Marker on Caylor Road. Seven men from the Holderman family joined Ohio regiments for the Union Army. One son, Jacob, spent two years at the Soldiers Home recovering from war injuries and weather exposure. The land that Caylor Road is on was originally owned by the Kaylor and Holderman families. Over time the spelling of the road became Caylor instead of Kaylor. In the woods just past where Caylor Road dead ends into WC-Soldiers Home Road is the small Kaylor Family Cemetery (Photo #3 & #4).
The Moraine Historical Marker “Soldiers Home Road” was installed in September 2019 and is located along the Deer Meadow Park To Possum Creek Metropark Bike Connector just south of the intersection of Shank Road and West Carrollton-Soldiers Home Road.
Two of the owners of the Moraine Development Company, Charles Kettering and Colonel Edward Deeds were responsible for rapid changes in the course of history. They formed the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO) and experimented with the starting, lighting and ignition systems for automobiles. After inventing the self-starter, DELCO manufactured the systems.
In 1915, Kettering invented the Delco-Light Set called Little Joe (Photo #1), a small generator that powered many rural farms across the country. Prior to this invention, isolated farms were previously lit by kerosene, candles or gas, if available – to utilize electricity. By 1930, 90% of urban America had the benefit of electricity but only 10% of rural America had been electrified. The generator would run a few hours and store electricity in batteries for use as needed. More than 100 models were built over the years but the 850 watt, 32 volt DC unit accounted for 75% of the production in Moraine. Being a unique 32-volt system, Delco also sold appliances to go with the light generator. The sets were manufactured in the large building on Springboro Pike in Moraine which was previously occupied by the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company.
In 1921, General Motors brought its Frigidaire Division to those same buildings to manufacture the first self-contained refrigerator. The brand was so well known in the refrigeration field in the early 20th century that many Americans called any refrigerator (Photo #3), whatever its brand, a “Frigidaire” – eventually coining the slang term “fridge”.
During World War II, Frigidaire became the scene of wartime production. The facility produced aircraft parts (Photo #4) and components, .50 caliber machine guns and ammunition until peacetime production resumed in December of 1945. After WWII, the plant resumed production of refrigerators. The Frigidaire Company claims the following firsts: electric self-contained refrigerator, home freezer, room air conditioner, 30″ electric range and coordinated colors for home appliances.
The Moraine Historical Marker “Delco Light & Frigidaire” is located on the east side of Springboro Pike just north of Blanchard Avenue.
In the 1820’s during a hike from Urbana to Cincinnati , John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman planted a grove of apple trees just west of Dorf Drive in German Village. On September 23, 2010, honoring the 236th birthday of John Chapman, the City of Moraine rededicated a plaque and planted four second generation apple trees from seeds originally planted by Johnny Appleseed.
Moraine Parks & Recreation hired a Johnny Appleseed portrayer who put on an educational assembly at nearby Frank Nicholas Elementary School. The portrayer and two classes of students from the school attended the ceremony and helped plant the apple trees (Photo #2).
The Moraine Historical Marker “Johnny Appleseed Site” is located at Johnny Appleseed Park, 3060 Dorf Drive across from the Moraine City Garden Plots.
Construction began in 1835 and was completed in 1845. Beginning in Toledo and ending in Cincinnati the canal created a water route from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Boats of up to 80 feet long (Photo #2) were towed along the canal by donkeys, horses or oxen on a prepared towpath.
The canal ran north and south through Moraine where Dryden Road and Arbor Blvd are today. The canal entered from the north at Carillon Park and exited to the south into West Carrollton. Canal Lock #22 was located on the corner of Dryden Road and East River Road. The canal was abandoned for commercial use after the historic 1913 flood damaged it.
The Moraine Historical Marker for the “Miami & Erie Canal” is located at the corner of Dryden Road and East River Road.
Jacob Hammel was one of Moraine’s earliest settlers. He was born near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in 1820. For five years after reaching his maturity he drove a six-horse team hauling freight from Chambersburg to Baltimore and then back to Chambersburg as there were no railroads in operation then.
In 1846 he moved from New Orleans to Montgomery County, Ohio. He was employed one season on a brickyard in Alexandersville (later West Carrollton) and the following year worked as a teamster. In 1848, Hammel purchased a canal boat and trafficked on the Miami-Erie Canal for three months. He then started his own company engaged in the manufacture of bricks for over five years. The brick company was known then as the Crume Brick Company, the oldest known industry in Moraine. After quitting the brick company, Mr. Hammel devoted his attention to farming making a specialty of tobacco.
Hammel owned a large parcel of land in southern Miami Shores in Moraine where the current Moraine Airpark and runway is located. Photo #2 is an aerial view of the land Hammel once owned which was surrounded on two sides by the Miami River which occasionally flooded but created rich soil. Photo#3 is a map showing his parcel of land. He set aside 25 acres for farming and averaged as high as 86.5 cases of tobacco (400 pounds to the case) – a success seldom achieved in this area by the other tobacco growers. According to a publication at that time, “No farmer in Miami Township stands higher in the esteem of his neighbors than Mr. Hammel and few have been more successful in their particular lines of industry”.
Mr. Hammel was married three times and had five children by his second wife Catherine. He died in December 1903 at age 83. His grave marker is located at the Zion Memorial Church Cemetery on South Dixie Drive (Photo#4). The Moraine Historical Marker for the “Crume Brick Company” is located at the southern dead end of Elter Drive.
The OERC was an interurban system formed in 1907 that ran from Toledo to Cincinnati until 1927. The system provided efficient passenger service to scores of small towns in Western Ohio between these major cities. In the early 1900’s most rural roads were unpaved and primarily traveled by horse drawn buggies and wagons. In wet weather and in winter these roads were often impassable. The electric railroad filled a transportation need.
The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Traction Company rans its interurban electric railroad lines south from Dayton into Moraine parallel to Dixie Drive, behind Ellery and Fulton Avenues heading south into West Carrollton. Two notable stations were at Blanchard Avenue (then called Edison Avenue) to drop off workers to the Dayton Wright Airplane Company, Delco Light or Frigidaire. A second stop was where today’s Waffle House along Springboro Pike is located. The big red traction cars provided safe, clean, fast and inexpensive transportation. A Cincinnati and Lake Erie servicing and operation building was located next to the Frigidaire plant on Springboro Pike and featured an eight track service yard. A second traction car service barn was located near the intersection of Dorothy Lane and Kettering Blvd. In the 1940’s when motor buses provided more modern transportation, the interurban system traction lines were eventually removed.
The Moraine Historical Marker “Ohio Electric Railway Company” is located at the intersection of Springboro Pike and Dryden Road.
Zion Memorial United Church of Christ and cemetery was established in 1820 and is one of the oldest churches in the entire Dayton area. The church is located at the corner of South Dixie Drive and Stroop Road. The first congregation was 12 people and the church was a crude, hewed-log structure built of pioneer taste and simplicity (Photo #2). The structure was 38 x 46 feet with a stone foundation about 40 feet from the Cincinnati Pike (later the Great Miami Valley Turnpike and then South Dixie Drive).
Between 1820 and 1826, the first ministers were circuit riders on horseback who arrived disarrayed, filthy and unkept. They wore black hip length coats, wide brim hats, dirty shirts and black stings for ties. A decade later a stage line was established from Dayton to Cincinnati that ran right in front of the church.
In 1860 the congregation erected a two story building measuring 45 x 60 feet costing $3,500 including furniture. The new building was dedicated in May 1860 right before the Civil War. When people came to church they came for the entire day. In summer they came via wagons with heavy packed lunch baskets. When winter brought snow and cold, families bundled up and came in sleighs. In 1886 and again in May 1933 the church survived tornado damage to the roof, steeple and structure. In 1886 the Lutheran congregation split from the Reformed Church congregation and they built a separate church across the street (where the gas station is today). You can see both churches in the upper right hand corner of Photo #4 taken in 1917. Through the years Zion Memorial Church was enlarged with additional rooms and additional parking areas. A stroll through the old Zion Cemetery is a trip back in time as many of the elaborate tombstones are the resting place of the areas original pioneers, farmers and landowners.
The Moraine Historical Marker is located between the church and cemetery facing South Dixie Drive.
In 1917, fourteen homes were built on Edison Avenue. Edison Avenue, named for the great Ohio inventor Thomas Edison, was later changed to Blanchard Avenue. Why are these homes famous and noteworthy? The homes are Sears Roebuck and Company mail order homes. That’s right, the houses were ordered from a catalog.
The Sears Roebuck mass-merchandising, mail-order company was founded in 1886 and quickly became one of the largest such operations in the world. While most people know that Sears sold nearly everything in the catalog few realize Sears also sold homes. Between 1908 and 1940 Sears operated a “Modern Homes” division that supplied plans, materials and kit houses shipped by rail to all corners of America.
Orville Wright and the other owners of the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company on Springboro Pike needed workers to built the DeHavilland DH-4, America’s first bomber which was used near the end of World War I. Across the street from the plant on Edison Avenue, gas lines were installed, the dirt street was paved and sidewalks, curbing and gutters were provided. When the Sears home kits arrived they included everything to build a house – numbered pre-cut parts, paint, nails, blueprints and instruction booklets. The homes ranged in price from $650 to $2,500. Nearly 500,000 Sears home kits were ordered between 1908 and WWII. Photo #2 shows some of the homes completed and others are being constructed. Photo #3 shows the entire plat with the Edison Avenue Sears homes at the bottom of the photo. At the top of Photo#4 shows the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company Plant, the Sears homes and at the bottom running right to left is the Great Miami Valley Turnpike aka South Dixie Drive.
When the houses were completed, many workers at the Dayton Wright Airplane Company lived or bunked in these Sears houses where all they had to do was walk across the street to work. Today, these Sears homes are still standing and are all single family residences. The Moraine Historical Marker “Historic Blanchard Avenue Homes” is located on the western end of Blanchard Avenue near the intersection of Blanchard and Springboro Pike.