Wednesday, April 3, 2013

History of Shroyer Park (Part 1)

The Shroyer Park area was incrementally incorporated into the City of Dayton in the early 1900s. It had previously been located in Van Buren Township, which is now parts of Dayton, Kettering, Moraine, and Oakwood and is no longer a jurisdiction. 

Like most hinterland areas, Van Buren Township was primarily a farming community.  Most of the early Shroyer Park area settlers were farmers.  However, the abundant quarries in Van Buren Township are noteworthy.  The lake at the AFL-CIO Wilmington Hi-Rise was once a quarry, and provided stone for Montgomery County’s second courthouse.  The stone for Dayton’s historic courthouse was excavated from a quarry near today’s Wayne Avenue and Smithville Road intersection.  Several other quarries existed in Van Buren Township, yielding the building materials for many important structures in the area, including canal locks.

Of the early Van Buren Township settlers, three families are particularly noteworthy—those bearing the names Shroyer, Baumann, and Bradford. 

John Shroyer, a farmer, moved to the area from Middletown, Maryland in 1810.  Shroyer married here and eventually the Shroyer family, including children, owned several hundred acres in Van Buren Township, including property that would become a portion of Shroyer Park.  John Shroyer’s grandson, George W. Shroyer, was mayor of Dayton from 1914-1917 (Dayton first mayor under the manager form of government) and served on the City Commission from 1918-1920.   In 1894, George opened a bicycle exchange at 23 West Fifth Street under the name G.W. Shroyer & Co. George was also a member of the Dayton Air Service committee, which is credited with securing the site for what would become Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

 Another family with ties to both Shroyer Park and the Dayton mayoral office is the Baumann family.  Clement Louis Baumann was born in 1838 in Bavaria, Germany, and arrived in the U.S. in 1848 with his siblings and his father, Thomas, and mother, Constantia.  Clement Baumann became a civic leader in Dayton, including stints as mayor in 1868 and 1870.  Clement was the President of the Board of Education from 1878 to 1880 and a founder of the Dayton Public Library.  The location of the Baumann property is where Firwood Drive and Constantia Avenue exist today. 

John Bradford moved to the area in 1800, and was a farmer.   The Bradford family is noteworthy for two reasons: this family eventually held more land in the Shroyer Park area than any other family during the settlement time period; and the Bradford land included what would become Hospice of Dayton and other care facilities south of the Dayton State Hospital.  Bradford property contained what would become the water source for the Dayton State Hospital.
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