Founded in 1807, Troy, Ohio is a small Midwestern city which has a heritage full of unique personalities, stories, inventions, and events- funny and tragic. This blog is a means of sharing these vignettes, full-length stories and humorous escapades with Trojans near and far, or individuals just interested in local history.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Remembering the Flood 100 Years Later

A new book about Troy history was published by Arcadia Books and just released by The Troy Historical Society.  It is a pictorial story of the Great Flood of 1913 and I was pleased to be asked to write the introduction to the work.

There are close to 200 photographs of Troy before, during and after the flood.  Oral Histories, which were collected in the mid-1970's of Troy flood survivors, were used for the majority of the text which tells the story in our city.  The text weaves a story of heartache, determination and survival.

I think anyone interested in Troy history, the flood in the Miami Valley, or even a general interest in Ohio historical events will be interested in this book, at least to read, if not purchase.

The book will be available to read at the Troy-Miami County Public Library's Local History Library, or checked out at the main library.  It can also be purchased through The Troy Historical Society

or Arcadia Publishing

Troy Daily News article regarding this book:

If you are from the area, but do not live in Troy or did not have relatives here during the flood, you do not have to feel left out.  Local author Scott Trostel has also published a book on the 1913 Flood which covers the whole northern portion of the Miami Valley, which includes Miami, Darke, Shelby, Logan, and Champaign Counties.

Mr. Trostel's book has numerous photos and newspaper headlines from the period and tells the story of this disaster in many of the communities and rural areas of the northern Valley.

If interested, this book may be purchased through the author   or by contacting The Troy Historical Society

For all interested parties who enjoy owning autographed copies of books and meeting authors, be they local or nationally recognized ones, the authors of the recently published 1913 Flood books I mentioned last week will be at the Troy-Miami County Public Library's Local History Library (100 W. Main St., Troy) on Monday, December 17th, from 6-8 pm to discuss their topics and sign copies of their respective books.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's In A Name? A Little History

  (Previously published by the Troy Daily News; Troy, Ohio)

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)

South Market St., ca. 1905

A funny thing happened on the way through Troy recently. As I am prone to do from time-to-time, I began to contemplate on history, or more precisely, some of the streets in town and their names.

These ponderings set me off on one of my investigative rabbit trails, which after researching and perusing the thoroughfares throughout the city, I discovered there has been a wide and varied street naming process over the years. Most of our civic pathways were named by the developers of new additions, and those people chose trees, physical location, favorite travel destinations or ancestral lands with which to christen their kingdoms. Surprisingly, very few have been named for an individual in honor of his/her accomplishments. So, where did most of the street names come from?

According to former Troy historian Thomas B. Wheeler, when Troy was first surveyed and platted with its 87 original lots, the streets were given very typical American names. The street running east and west and closest to the Great Miami River was Water St, the next street south was Main St., third was Franklin, named for Benjamin Franklin, and fourth was Back St. on the south side of town. Since the river was considered a central mode of transportation in 1807, it was kind of the front door of Troy. Back Street was reckoned as the back door.

Fortunately, Back Street was appropriately renamed Canal St. about 30 years later with the arrival of the Miami-Erie Canal. The street below Canal followed the general path of the canal race (feeder or water source for the canal), so it was called Race St. Sorry auto fans it was not an invitation.

Many of the downtown streets running north and south took on typical Americana names of trees such as Plum, Cherry, Walnut and Mulberry. Likewise, as the years passed several other areas of the city utilized names such as Fernwood, Forrest, Pine, Maple, and Spruce for those asphalt trails.

Other early streets were named, like Franklin St., for national heroes and leaders, such as Clay and Crawford, two presidential candidates who were popular here, or Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Adams, Jackson and, of course, Washington Streets for our nation’s presidents.

Two particular civic pathways which were developed in the early 1880’s were named to honor the nation’s two martyred presidents, Lincoln and Garfield.

On a larger scale, as Troy grew in population and expanded, most names were taken from the property owners, longtime residents or land developers who purchased the acreage which soon became city lots. These roads include Ross, Young, Enyeart, Hobart, Lytle, Dickerson, Peters, DeWeese and Swailes, among others. Many of whom were early families in Miami County or Troy. The Peters and Dickerson families had nurseries in the area.

One of Troy’s earliest developments was that of Culbertson Heights, on the north side of Staunton Rd. and east of Rose Hill Cemetery. When that area was platted the names of Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and even that state north of Ohio, were chosen to be honored. To be sure, even in the early twentieth century someone had good sense to keep Ohio Ave. and Michigan Ave. separated. Pennsylvania also has an avenue, but it was placed in another part of the city.

Civic byways such as Waco St., Brukner Dr., Julian Ct., Dye Mill Rd., Hobart Circle and Herrlinger Way acknowledged important industry and names of families who brought the businesses to Troy. Again, most of these were named because of the proximity to the business or association with the same.

In the 1950’s, one subdivision in the city was named by the winner of a contest sponsored by the developer F.A. Archer. The contest winner chose the name Sherwood for the new addition and the street names followed suit with King Richard Ct., Robin Hood Ln., Loxley Ln., Crossbow Ln., Nottingham Rd., Little John Rd. and Merry Robin Rd.

In more recent years, the managers of developments seem to have looked abroad to places of ancestry or favorite travel spots for inspiration. King’s Chapel, developed in the late 1960’s, has a very Scottish flavor as one notes streets like New Castle Dr., Highland Ct., Inverness Ct., Glenmore Ct. and St. Andrews Dr.

Edgewood and Westbrook, initiated in the 1930’s and 1940’s, respectively, have very English sounding street names: Mayfair Cir., Devon Cir., Kent Ln., Curzon Cir., Surrey Rd., Chelsea Rd., Berkshire Rd. and Dartmouth Rd. are the names chosen for several roads in those two areas.

A newer development east of Sherwood, along Hunter’s Ridge, takes on a very patriotic verve with names like Liberty Place, Bunker Hill Rd., Saratoga Dr., and Yorktown Dr., the last three being names of important Revolutionary War battles. There is also Vicksburg Ct. and Gettysburg Dr. to memorialize the Civil War. Someone obviously wanted to balance things out a little and since Grant and Sherman already had streets in Troy, they named two roads in the area Lee Rd. and Sheridan Ct., after the generals of Civil War fame. The old west is not forgotten with Frontier Dr. and Custer Ct.

Some of the more unique names in Troy, which actually relate to local people, locations, etc. are Diana Dr., Experiment Farm Rd. Olympic Dr. Carriage Crossing and Ferguson Dr.

Diana Drive, which is located on property originally owned by Dr. and Mrs. Don F. Deeter was named for their daughter, Diana (Deeter) Williams. I have not yet found out the circumstances, but it is possible the family requested the name when selling the property next to their farm.

In the early twentieth century, experimentation in farming with different types of soil, various hybrid seeds, as well as inhibitors (pesticides) was becoming quite popular. Ohio encouraged each county to follow the pattern set by the Wooster Experiment Farm and set aside land for this purpose. Following the permission granted in the election of 1910, Miami County set up their experiment farm at the northwest corner of the Troy - Covington Pike (State Route 41 /W, Main St.) and what is now Experiment Farm Rd. Approximately 120 acres, much of what is now inside MaryBill Dr. was the farm. Agricultural history is not the only area recognized with a road name.

Olympic Dr. is a little more obscure and a bit an historic ‘marker,’ similar to Experiment Farm Rd. Bob Schul was an Olympic gold medalist from West Milton. During the 1970’s he opened a large sports complex on the south side of Stanfield Rd. behind the present Meijer building. As a result of winning a gold medal in the 5,000k in Tokyo (1964), the road leading to the complex was named Olympic Dr. The name is still there even if the sports complex is not.

Carriage Crossing is actually another ‘local’ name in that it was named because of the familiar sites in the area. Most in Miami County recognize the German Baptists of the Covington area with the men wearing beards and broad brim hats and the ladies in their cape dresses and prayer covering, but it is Old Order German Baptist Brethren which also still utilize the horse and buggy/carriage as a mode of transportation. While many carriages can still be seen from time-to-time in the Troy area, the busy roads have forced many to take alternate back routes. But, the State Route 41 and Washington Rd. area, at one time, was a carriage crossing point.

Finally, the one true street named in honor of someone’s accomplishments in local stories is Ferguson Dr., named after Bob Ferguson, the Troy High School football standout and All-American at Ohio State University. In the 1960’s, following Ferguson’s career at OSU and his being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the suggestion was made to name a street in his honor. The city was not inclined to do it, citing it was not the practice of the city to name streets with local personalities. It was also noted the suggested stretch of road was on Troy school property. It was after numerous letters to the editor were published in the Troy Daily News that a petition drive finally convinced the school district to rename the road.

So, there is my condensed history tour of Troy streets and avenues. Troy has numerous interesting road names and fascinating stories to accompany them, but very few of the streets are actually named for a Trojan because of his/her accomplishments.

If this was the case, we would have Stouder Street, named after the man who gave Troy its hospital and who gave the seed money to begin the Troy Foundation, from which many people and organizations have benefitted. We might also have Coleman Ct., for the first Troy doctor, who was vitally important during those pioneer years. Allen Ave. would be necessary for Henry W. Allen, one of Troy’s early benefactors; Dixon Dr. after “Pop” Dixon, the Baptist minister who had a heart for the young people of the community and initiated the Troy Recreation Association, “The Rec.” We would not forget Rev. Brandriff and many others who literally put their lives on the line by being ‘conductors’ on the Underground Railroad. Of course, we need to include Lucille Wheat and Lois Davies for their contributions to the community. Tommy Vaughn and Tommy Myers, who are two other all-Americans from Troy, couldn’t be left out, nor could we forget every individual veteran who has fought for the freedoms we enjoy. The list goes on and on.

Although I am sure Solomon was not thinking of names for roads in Israel when the Lord moved him to write Proverbs 22:1, I am thankful for the individuals that we have and have had in Troy who have given of themselves and their time, talents and resources to make this city a great place to live . . . I honor their names.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

A good memory for a young fan . . . at least I use to be young

I have been terribly neglectful of my blog, not out of lack of interest, but rather lack of time, energy and effort with everything else in life.  Of course, blogs don't take a priority, at least not yet.

So, just to get back into the practice I have added a  link today to a story online which I wrote for our local newspaper last fall.  It is a story about a well known local football player and one of his young fans . . . me.

Read about my experience here

Monday, March 14, 2011

The World of Skating and Buffalo Wings in Troy

(Previously published by Troy Daily News; Troy, Ohio)

I am cheating a bit on this post because it is actually an article I wrote for our local newspaper a couple of weeks ago.  I hope you enjoy it!

Come gather around and let me share a tale of some interesting Troy history. For some of the more 'experienced' in the community, you may already know this story. But for many, I am sure, you probably are not aware of this brief account, so sit back for a few minutes and read of Troy's part in some popular history.

In the latter half of the 1950's Troy was a bustling community with a population hovering about 13,000, but that number was quickly expanding. The superhighway - I-75 - was only a few years old and was still "way out west of town" near the ever-growing development of Westbrook. It was a friendly town where everyone knew one another, or at least knew who others were. It was a safe and peaceful community with only the occasional serious criminal interruption.

The community was blessed with many home-grown businesses and manufacturers, which not only provided a great tax-base for the city, but these fine entrepreneurs also re-invested in their hometown.

By 1959, One of the great benefits which Troy had enjoyed for almost a decade was Hobart Arena - given to the city by the Hobart family through the C.C. Hobart Foundation. This gem was a unique winter recreational facility in the region and with it Troy citizens enjoyed semi-professional hockey, ice skating shows, circuses, and performances by some of the best talent of the day, including Elvis, a young and popular Pat Boone, older generation favorite Lawrence Welk and cowboy hero Roy Rogers with Dale Evans and Trigger. There was something for everyone at the arena.

Looking back through the corridor of time, it should come as no surprise that with a facility such as Hobart Arena available that Troy also had a thriving skating club (We still do). Interested people, both young and old, beginners or advanced, could take lessons and learn basic skating skills for enjoyment or grow to become competitive skaters for the Troy Skating Club.

As with most clubs, be they golf, tennis, or skating, the club also enjoyed the benefit of a professional skating instructor in the late 1950's by the name of Nino Minelli. Mr. Minelli was a good teacher known for his skill and precision and was well thought of in the midwest. When Mr. Minelli announced he was leaving Troy for other professional opportunities many despaired of again finding such a talented individual who would be willing to come to a small city like Troy.

Meanwhile, in the Queen City, there was a young couple employed at the old Cincinnati Gardens as instructors for the skating public of that area. This husband and wife team had recently taken guardianship of an 11 year old skating talent by the name of Jimmy Disbrow. In addition, they were expecting their first child and their income was being stretched to the point of snapping. They were concerned about the future. So, when a friend from Chicago who was involved in the skating loops of the midwest told Dave and Rita about the opening which recently opened in Troy they were hopeful about the possibilites.

After the intial contact and several interviews, Dave and Rita Lowery became the new skating professionals for the Troy Skating Club at Hobart Arena in 1959. Dave, a native of Oshawa, Ontario, was a friendly young man with a ready smile. He was slender and skilled in skating and very knowledgable in the sport. Rita, his young wife, the one with the sparking eyes and a 'light up the room' smile, was originally from the far reaches of northern Scotland. So far north, according to Rita, that if you went any further you would be swimming in the North Sea. She had been trained in stage and dance, but was also a talented skater. Mr and Mrs. Lowery made a formidable team of skating talent and choreographic creativity.

Not long after settling into Troy, Scott, the Lowery's first child, was born at Stouder Hospital. In a few years, he was joined by his sister Kristen. The young family of five continued to enjoy their home in Troy and made many friends as they became involved in a number of activities.

For eight years, the Lowery's brought much success and recognition to the Troy Skating Club and helped to develop many talented individuals, including Jimmy Disbrow, who had a great amateur figure skating career. Through hard work he garnered several national titles in both singles and pairs, and spent two years touring internationally with Holiday On Ice. Scott and Kristen also benefited from their parents guidence and became quite accomplished skaters.

As the family grew and the times changed, the Lowerys, once again, found themselves in tight financial straights, mainly because the skating instruction position was only an eight month contract, leaving a fourth month financial gap to fill each year. So, with some sadness, they began to search for other opportunities to gain a better financial footing and perhaps advance their careers. It was a good time to move. Jimmy had graduated from Troy High School in 1966 and Scott and Kristen were still young enough to adapt to a move to a new community. Soon they landed positions with Bowling Green State University as "on staff" instructors and coordinators of the new ice arena and program at BGSU. In a recent interview, Dave stated, "It was just too good to pass up."

Since those days, the Lowerys have moved several times and have enjoyed a number of successful ventures, including owning a large costume company for skating competition outfits, U.S. Olympic coaching and, of course, individual coaching with several well-known skaters, including Scott Hamilton.

At one point the family resided in Buffalo, New York. The kids had grown up and were mainly out on their own and taking on their own adventures. In 1981, Jimmy Disbrow found himself in Kent, Ohio judging an amateur skating contest and afterward met up with his brother Scott in order to find something to eat. Well, having lived in Buffalo for some time, they had both acquired a liking for authentic Buffalo-styled chicken wings. Alas, they were not to be found anywhere in the area. Out of their culinary frustration, Disbrow and Lowery vowed to open their own restaurant where people could enjoy Buffalo Wings outside of the Niagra region. The next year they completed their goal by opening the first Buffalo Wild Wings® in Columbus, Ohio. Originally called Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck (BW3® ). The weck was thinly sliced roast beef piled high on kummelweck (salt and carraway seed crusted kaiser bun), which is another western New York tradition. The name was later shortened, but the success has been phenomenal with almost 700 restaurants in 42 states. In addition, just last year the corporation announced it planned to open 50 restaurants over the next five years in Canada.

So there is my little tale of how a family with Troy ties and careers in figure skating got into the Buffalo Wing business. It only seems appropriate that Troy has its very own restaurant . . . it kind of seems like it rightfully belongs here.

Sadly, Jimmy Disbrow passed away in 2002, leaving a deep void in the Lowery family and the skating community, but Dave and Rita's family left its mark on the skating community, the arena and Troy during their time here. They still have many friends here who they visit from time-to-time. They impacted this community in many ways, but did Troy do anything for them? Well, if you ask, they will enthusisatically tell you, "Troy was wonderful! We loved it." Dave, almost with melancholy, said, "In some ways, I wish we'd never left."

So, the next time you are at BW3 ® with friends or family, sink your teeth into a "Mild" or perhaps a "Blazin'" wing and recall the fun-filled history Troy shares with the Lowerys, Jimmy Disbrow and Buffalo Wild Wings® . Hmmm, I wonder if Troy could be designated the unofficial birthplace of Buffalo Wild Wings® ?
 My Life As A Speeding Bullet

Well, here I am again.

Yes, I am still alive, but everything continues to be busy and even hectic at times.  It seems as if life is a "speeding bullet."  Days fly by and meld into the following days;  months do likewise and before you know it almost a year has passed.  It is probably why the Lord put it in writing in His Word - Psalms 144:4 - "Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away."  Remember how as a youngster it was if we had forever to enjoy life?  The older I get, the more I understand the above passage. 

 I can't believe how long it has been since I posted some good history to read. But, I am going to try it again . . . it is fun to do, it is just finding the time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lost Rights . . . A Little More

 North Carolina's Copy of the 
United States Bill of Rights

It came to my attention that I needed to 'come clean' about something regarding Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic.
Why did I include a book review about history which does not take place in Troy, Ohio?  Let me explain . . .

About three years  ago a gentleman I know returned from a visit to Washington, D.C. where his daughter lives.  The Washington Post regularly includes Civil War stories in their publication and Bob's daughter saves them for him to read.  When he returned from this trip he brought one of the stories to me because it mentioned Tipp City and Troy, both of which are in Miami County, Ohio.

The story turned out to be a brief page summary of the North Carolina Bill of Rights adventure, which David Howard details in his book.  So, that was my first exposure to the story.

It was not too long after this I was contacted by David Howard.  He wanted to come to Troy and do some research for his book.  "Are you familiar with the story of North Carolina's stolen Bill of Rights," he asked me.  "Actually, I am familiar with the tale, I responded.  "You are?"  Apparently, David had found many people who had not heard of the document's travels.  So, I was able to assist David in a small way to research some of  the local families and properties which were involved in his compiling of the local facts.

The second reason why I wanted to share the book with my readers is, as mentioned above, Troy was involved in the history of the broadside.  I will not share all the details, but only to mention that Charles Shotwell, "the patriarch" of the family which had the document in its possession for so long, lived in Troy for awhile.

Thank you Bob for bringing the story to my attention and helping me be prepared to assist David.  And, thanks for the fun David.

So, with this addendum to the book review, now you know why I included Lost Rights in my Troy History blog.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review- Lost Rights: The Misadventures of A Stolen American Relic

Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic
By David Howard

A Review

Is national history actually numerous pieces of local or regional history that are cohesively strung together to form the whole?  Or perhaps, local history is really national history on a small scale?  This is what I contemplated when I first became familiar with the story related in Lost Rights, even more so now that I have had the chance to read an advance copy of the book.

Near the end of the Civil War, General Sherman’s army tromped through North Carolina as they forcibly brought the Confederate States back under the authority of the United States.  Numerous Union soldiers felt the time to head home was drawing near and, as conquering victors, were looking for souvenirs of the South, as well as a remembrance of their years of toil during the war.

As one Ohio regiment was occupying Raleigh, North Carolina, a soldier from Tippecanoe City (Tipp City) rustled up a humdinger of a treasure in nothing less than the state’s original copy of the United States Bill of Rights.  The very same Bill of Rights which was composed and sent out to the thirteen states with the hope that it would convince a couple holdouts to enter the Union.  Thus began the long and intriguing story of the document’s concealed journey around the country before heading back home after 138 years.

Part mystery, part antiquarian pursuit, part study in human nature, and, of course, history, Lost Rights is a rollicking good read.  Mr. Howard takes all the loose threads of this multifaceted story and ties them together in a fascinating and cohesive tale.  But this is no fairy tale of Howard's talented imagination, this is history . . . and fun history it is!

David Howard, whose various works I have read online, is a talented author, no matter what he is writing about.  A few years ago I actually found myself reading a piece written by Howard about a Guatemalan development and preservation of a Mayan city . . . and I enjoyed it.  In this same manner, Howard draws you into the story, the history, the antiques trade and the lives of the people of Lost Rights.  I felt as if I traveled the 138 year journey with the document.

Does it matter that this story be told?  On several levels, yes!  First, it is an interesting and fun tale, and we all need to enjoy those from time-to-time as a means of catharsis.

Also, it is exciting to read the novel of a talented  fiction writer, but to those who enjoy non-fiction, it is a treat to read someone like David Howard as he creatively relates history in an engaging and enjoyable fashion.

In addition, this story is a reminder that it is the individuals, the counties, the states and regions which make the United States and its history.  For it is the stories of Paul Revere and Patrick Henry, Thomas Edison and Rosa Parks, and ideas and movements growing which make the nation.  Many of these were 'local' stories before they became national stories.  For me, it is the history of Troy - KitchenAid mixers, UPC symbols, Waco gliders, and individuals like Augustus Stouder - impacting the country and the world that is fascinating and fun.

Finally, a story such as this, can dive deeper and refresh our memory of important events.  For me, it was the reminder that possibly, except for North Carolina and Rhode Island's stubbornness in refusing to sign The Constitution unless a "bill of rights" was included, we might not have many of our fragile liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. 

About the only negative comment I can make is it would've been nice to see a few photographs of the principal characters and the document, perhaps safely back home in North Carolina.  But, in this day and age of tight budgets and slow income, I can understand why Mr. Howard and the publisher decided not to include images.

Stories, such as Lost Rights, are the reason I love local and regional history.  Not to distract or draw attention away from 'the big stories,' but rather to accentuate our national stories and bring out more color detail behind those well-known dramas.  It is like Paul Harvey used to remind his radio audience, " and that is the rest of the story."

The book will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on July 2, 2010.

Connect with David Howard here