Could it be time to edit our city logo? In 1791, Washington Berry married Alice Thornton Taylor, sister of Colonel James Taylor, founder of Newport. A year later, on the advice of his brother-in-law, Berry purchased 1000 acres of undeveloped riverside land from the heirs of Lt. Colonel George Muse, who was awarded the land for his service under General George Washington in the French and Indian Wars. That 1000 acre plot is now the city of Dayton.
Berry built a farm near the center of his property, and he established a lucrative ferry service from the landing at what is now Clay Street. This ferry transported freight and passengers that traveled through the old buffalo trail up the hill to the highlands. When Washington Berry died in 1813, he left the western half of his property to his wife, and the eastern half to be divided among his 9 children.
Berry’s family maintained the farm and ferry service, but over the next few years his son James Berry bought out his siblings’ shares of the eastern estate, in partnership with James McArthur and Henry Walker. They laid out the north-south-east west grid street plan and sold individual lots, and James established a hotel at the landing at Clay Street. They named their development Jamestown, and opened the first road in Campbell County, a toll road they named Jamestown Pike, following that old buffalo trail up the hill. The city of Jamestown was approved by Governor William Ownsley on March 1 1848.
Berry’s wife Alice sold her western half of the property to Lewis and Burton Hazen, and they sold off portions at a time, with each developer setting their own lot sizes and street layouts. They named this community Brooklyn, and on February 27 1849 Governor John Crittendon approved the establishment of the city of Brooklyn.
Over the next 10 years the development of both cities progressed rapidly. Industries such as rope-making, distilling, ferries, lumber, boat building, brickmaking, construction, and warehousing provided jobs for the hundreds of new residents moving in.
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, loyalties in northern Kentucky were divided. Many residents were neutral, while others were loyalists to either the Union or Confederate side. Some families were divided, with members serving on both sides of the conflict. But the battles never reached this area, and with the boom in river trade supplying goods for the war efforts, employment was high, and the local economy was strong.
In the midst of the war in April 1862, the citizens of both Brooklyn and Jamestown took a vote on whether to merge the two cities into one to combine their resources. The merger was approved by an overwhelming 148-11 majority. But because of the political uncertainties the war brought, no steps were taken to legally complete the merger. After the war ended in 1865, industry and government began to return to normal, and the steps to legally merge the two cities resumed in 1866.
On Saturday March 9 1867, Governor Thomas Bramlette formally approved the merger of Brooklyn and Jamestown, to be combined under the new name of Dayton KY.
On Tuesday March 12 1867, the first city official meeting of the City of Dayton Kentucky was held. Anton Link was selected as Council President, and joining him on Council were J. M. McArthur, William Hasson, W. M. Donaldson, Charles A. Bird, John Reid, and J. W. Shanks. Theodore Kneven was selected as Dayton Kentucky’s first Mayor.
150 years later, the City of Dayton KY is still a vibrant and united community, with a rich history and a hopeful future.
Researched and submitted by: Joe Neary
(Titled by the editor)
Dayton Community News