The curious origins of Dayton street names
at Wright Library


The brickyard may be long gone, but Brown Street remains.

By Joyell Nevins  |  Photos by Michael Morris

Did you know that Stanley Avenue was named after a former king and queen of the gypsies? Or that Booher Lane’s namesake’s mother was the first person to be baptized in a Dayton church? How about that Peter Odlin of Odlin Avenue authored a bill prohibiting liquor sales on Election Day? Learn the stories behind the streets at Woodland Cemetery’s “Street Names of Dayton” program, developed by Angie Hoschouer, Manager of Development and Marketing. Her next presentation will be 2 p.m. Sunday, Mar. 18, at Wright Memorial Public Library. It is part of the Far Hills Speaker Series, a partnership between the library and the Oakwood Historical Society. From Alberta to Zigzag, 45 streets are mentioned—each with a connection
to Woodland.

“We have such a fascinating history, and people don’t know about it!” Hoschouer said.

Hoschouer was a seven-year volunteer before becoming employed at Woodland, working in several areas, including marketing, historical research, and actor portrayal. Her great-great-great grandparents were buried at Woodland Cemetery in 1858
and 1867.

She has an extensive background in genealogical research and has traced her biological family back to the 1700s in Ireland. Hoschouer is also a founding and lifetime member of the Randolph Township Historical Society, a member of the Ohio Genealogical Society with status as a First Family of Ohio, First Family of Greene County, and a member of the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio.

She first started looking at the records behind local roads in 2015. While doing research for another project, Hoschouer came across a newspaper article written by Charles F. Sullivan in 1946. Sullivan was born in Dayton in 1866 and began writing his memories in short articles beginning in the 1940s. This particular article was called “The Streets of Dayton and Why so Named.”

“I started reading, and realized all of these names are at Woodland,” Hoschouer
said excitedly.

She began doing her own research through the Dayton Public Library’s local history and genealogy collections. Another vital resource was Dayton History Books Online (daytonhistorybooks.com), which has more than 900 books, booklets, and articles that have been transcribed on the site.  Ancestry.com provided the final missing pieces.

What that means is that aside from needing a membership to Ancestry, all of that information can be accessed by…anyone. Anyone who attends her program and is interested in learning more can do so.

“You can go down to the library, pull the microfilm, and read it yourself,” she said.

Since the program’s conception, “Street Names” has been augmented by peoples’ personal stories as well. While presenting at the Vandalia Library, the former Judge Francis McGee came up to her afterwards and shared that McGee Boulevard was named for her father, James H. McGee.

He was elected in 1970 and became the first African-American Mayor in Dayton. According to Wright State University Special Collection Archives, at nearly 12 years in office, James McGee holds the record for being the longest tenured mayor
in Dayton history.

Other road namesakes include Brown Street, named after building contractor and brick-maker Thomas Brown. Brown’s brickyard was at the corner of what is now Brown Street and Wayne Avenue. The clay for the bricks actually turned the street brown, so it is hinted that that’s why the street was called Brown, rather than from his actual name.

King Avenue comes from William King, who arrived in Dayton in 1799 with one dollar in his pocket. By 1811, he was running a ferry over the Great Miami River, charging a man and his horse a fee of 12 ½ cents. Part of King Avenue now goes by Home Avenue.

One of Hoschouer’s favorite stories, though, is the royalty behind Stanley Avenue.

“Who doesn’t know Stanley Avenue?” she mused. “I had no idea it was named
for gypsies.”

And not just any gypsies—Levi and Matilda Stanley were honored as king and queen of the ethnic group. In the mid-1800s, their group made Dayton their base camp, traveling down to Mississippi during the winter.

Matilda died in January of 1878, but wasn’t buried until September. On the day of her funeral, Sep. 15, 25,000 people attended. There were 1,000 horses and carriages lining the streets of Woodland Cemetery. Hoschouer notes that many men and boys were climbing trees just to get a better look at the proceedings. To this day, it is the largest-attended funeral in Dayton’s history.

“For me, telling these stories is an opportunity for people to learn [their] history and discover, it really is great in Dayton,” Hoschouer said.

There are still research volunteer opportunities for a new Woodland project Hoschouer is working on. She notes that Woodland Cemetery also needs volunteer tour guides as they head into their biggest tour season for the year. For more information or to volunteer, call 937.228.3221, visit WoodlandCemetery.org, or email Angie directly at
AHoschouer@WoodlandCemetery.org.

“Street Names of Dayton” will be presented on Sunday, Mar. 18, 2 p.m. at Wright Memorial Public Library, 1776 Far Hills Avenue, Oakwood. For more information, call 937.294.7171 or visit WrightLibrary.org

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Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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