Something about living in an old Dayton house (built 1914) makes me more interested than ever about Dayton history.  I recently picked up A History of The Barney & Smith Car Company of Dayton, Ohio (written in March of 1911) at the library and after 20 pages or so realized that they were building railroad cars, not automobiles (don’t worry, I’m already shaking my head at myself for you).  So many of the people mentioned in the book have last names corresponding with street names in my neighborhood – finally I understand why anyone would ever name a street “Gunckel.”  It was also interesting to imagine the buildings and water wheel on Keowee and consider what these men would think of Keowee now (broken windows, prostitutes, etc.).

Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but notice that it seemed to be normal practice for employers to actually care about employees.  The book was written by the man who would be the company’s next president and he frequently mentions nice things he and the other employers do for the employees and how much he and his peers admire the men who work for them.  I think these employers would be ashamed of the way business is conducted nowadays – everyone is replaceable and your employers work hard to make sure you know this.

To end this on a positive note (just like the book does) here’s my favorite story in the Some Reminiscences section:

“Back in the fifties [1850s], before the war, and before the revenue tax was put on whiskey, the scion of one of the old Dayton families would come out to the corner of Keowee and Monument avenue, and with a cart with a jug of whiskey and a keg of beer and [sic] set up a bar in the hollow stump of an old sycamore tree which was about seven feet in diameter.”

– H.M. Estabrook, A History of The Barney & Smith Car Company of Dayton, Ohio