Recently I had the opportunity to spend a day in Dayton, Ohio, doing some genealogical research. I had three primary goals regarding John A. Smith (my 2g-grandfather): 1) visit the Dayton Metro Library to examine City Directories to see if I could learn more about John’s house-moving business; 2) to visit the Montgomery County Records Center & Archives to search for John’s probate records; and 3) to visit Woodland Cemetery to search for and photograph the markers for John’s family. I had hoped to find John’s last known address in Harrison Township (now, inside Dayton city limits) and the old Greencastle Cemetery (of which John was Superintendent for a period of time). A three hour luncheon with a long-time friend necessitated a revision of my plans. Because of the time constraints (as well as awareness of the fact that I could order probate records via mail) I did to not the Records Center & Archives.
I found a fair number of old city directories – the earliest dating back to 1866-67. I found John (A.) Smith listed in all of them. In most editions, his occupation was listed as carpenter; in the 1880-81 directory he was listed as “contractor and builder.” In 1874 his residence is listed as the south end of Broadway;” in 1880-81, “Broadway s of Germantown” is listed as both his business and residential address. His death certificate lists 1004 South Broadway as his home address. John’s wife, Amelia Catherine (Boyer), was living with her daughter’s family at 1053 South Broadway at the time of her death. I discovered that neither of those houses were still standing as I drove the area.
I did find the old Greencastle Cemetery, of which John A. Smith was Superintendent. It is most likely the oldest cemetery in Dayton (the earliest tombstone bearing an 1817 date. It was, at first a family cemetery, and later developed as related to the United Brethren Church. John was a officer and trustee in the United Brethren Church. Unfortunately most of the cemetery’s records were destroyed in the 1913 Dayton flood. The cemetery, as well as the addresses above, were in Harrison Township, Montgomery County, Ohio, at the time. Since then, the southern portions of Harrison Township have been merged into the city of Dayton, Ohio.
John A. Smith’s grave (as well as those of family members) are not at Old Greencastle Cemetery. Instead he was buried at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. Woodland has a good online interment database, so I had already known that John and family were buried in section 113, lot 470. That lot held 15 graves. I was familiar with 10 of those buried in that lot; but not the other five. When I arrived at section 113, lot 470, I found two corner markers – one for John A. Smith and one for SAS (apparently for Samuel A. Spindler). One problem solved, The Smith family occupies 2/3 of the lot and the Spindler/Siegfried family the other 1/3. In the Smith lot are the graves for John A. and Amelia C. Smith; Amanda A. Smith (daughter who died at age 11 and whose marker bears the barely-readable words “now I am with the angels”); Hattie M. and Otto E. Jones (John & Amelia’s daughter and son-in-law, who both died in their early 30′s – he in 1893 and she in 1898); Rev. Joshua and Susanna Boyer (Amelia’s parents); Cassia Boyer (1824-1856, probably Joshua & Susanna’s daughter); Amanda Boyer (1854-1855, perhaps a daughter of Cassia??); Catharine Kinsey (1803-1874, don’t know where she fits into the family, but I had already encountered her name as she was living with the Smiths in the 1870 census.)
My mother tells me that she remembers stories that indicated that her great-grandfather John Smith “had money.” The biographical sketches indicated that John owned a number of properties in the area. His construction and house-moving business seemed to flourish, as reports indicate that he moved houses in the whole area of southwest Ohio – Dayton, Cincinnati, Hamilton, Columbus. Also Lot 470 at Woodland Cemetery contained a number of graves that had been moved to Woodland in October, 1908. In addition to headstones, there was a central 8 foot high pillar that had all ten individuals names inscribed (along with birth and death years). Next steps in researching John A. Smith will be to check real estate deeds and probate records.
I was interested to note that Joshua Boyer was listed as “Rev. Joshua Boyer.” In a previous reading of an online biography of John A. Smith, I learned that John met and married Amelia Catherine Boyer in Marshall, Clark County, Illinois. That account listed Amelia’s father as “Rev. Joshua Boyer.” My reading of the census records (1850 and 1880) had Joshua listed as a “plasterer” Since John was in Marshall, Illinois, as a carpenter, reportedly working on the construction of a new Presbyterian college, I had guessed that Joshua, as a plasterer, was doing the same. I wondered if someone, in researching the biographical sketch of John, had heard “pastor” when “plasterer” was said. As I reviewed the 1860 census record for Joshua (Buckeye, Stevenson County, Illinois), it would appear that his occupation is listed as “Parson.” I had not paid much attention to Joshua Boyer previously. This new-found information provided the impetus to do a Google search for “Rev. Joshua Boyer.” I found some interesting hits – online documented biographical sketches and trees for Joshua’s father (Johannes Nicholas Beyer/Boyer/Beyerre) who migrated from France to Bavaria to Berks County Pennsylvania. Joshua’s father served in Pennsylvania’s 3rd Regiment in the Revolutionary War. Joshua seemed to be the chief informant regarding information on his father. Joshua had been ordained as a Lutheran pastor, later switching to the Evangelical Association. Apparently he was what we would call today a “tent-making” pastor.
While searching the Dayton city directories, I also found an entry (1912-13) for Harley H. & Mabel (Smith) Deeter. Mable was a grand-daughter of John & Amelia Smith. Harley and Mabel are my mother’s parents. While I did not search for the house in which they lived in I was able to find a street view of the hose on Google maps after returning home. I had hope that I might find an entry a couple of years earlier for Harley Deeter that would reveal the name of his first wife. No such luck. It looks as if this will be another search at the Montgomery County Records Center and Archives.