200 Years of Progress

Roberts, Carl V.  200 Years of Progress: A History of Dayton and the Miami Valley. Dubuque, Iowa; Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1978.

The Miami Valley, or Miami Country, is an ambiguous creature.  Vaguely the land surrounding the Great and Little Miami Rivers, I have seen this region defined as simply Dayton Metro to extending into Indiana (Wayne County) and as far north as Lima.    Roberts’ 200 Years of Progress uses 17 counties in Ohio from just north of Cincinnati (Butler County) to Lima (Allen County).  Though over 30 years old, I have not found a better history of the elusive Valley.  Not a great social history (still looking for that book), but a good record of who moved here, what business was done, and a recount of famous events and residents.

There is a great back story (told in Arnold Rosenfeld’s Introduction) to the publication of 200 Years of Progress.  Finishing up a distinguished career at The Dayton Daily News, Roberts worked a year researching the history of Dayton and the Miami Valley for the bicentennial publication of the newspaper. (That is July 4th, 1976).  That would have been a good year.  The newspaper was then edited and 200 Years of Progress was released a few years later.

While Dayton and Montgomery County is the centerpiece of this work, I would recommend looking at Robert’s research of the other 16 Counties.  Very little of Ohio was settled/incorporated at statehood in 1803.  Only ten counties were created when Ohio became a state and eight more (four counties  in Miami Country – Montgomery, Butler, Greene, and Warren) were created in the first session of the General Assembly.  The early development in Miami Valley (and much of Ohio) was county creation, which Roberts meticulously details involves setting up a courthouse and jail.    (And then replacing the old jail and courthouse).  Robert’s other uniform description for county’s are agricultural production, population, and largest employers.

He has some great histories of business and services.  The history of Elder-Beerman (to 1976, of course) is a find and browsing through the chapter on medicine (hospitals, dentists, podiatrists, osteopathic doctors, and chiropractors) contains unique researched information.  Seriously, Dayton’s first chiropractors were John J. Schueller and Daniel Morgan in 1908.  Where are you going to get that information.

I would love to see an a new definitive history of the Miami Valley written.  This may be hard, as I think the idea of the Valley is passing as older distinct regions are getting blurred together.  Until that day, we have Robert’s bicentennial creation, which I would encourage Miami-Valleyphiles to seek out at their local library.