The Thompson Party was responsible for the establishment of the city we now know as Dayton. This group of 12 settlers founded Dayton in 1796. They traversed the Great Miami River by pirogue and set foot at St. Clair Street. They discovered camps of the Native Americans. After several days, two other groups arrived in the area.

Daniel C.Cooper led the establishment of the Mad River Road, which connected Dayton and Cincinnati. Ohio became a member of the Union in 1803. After three years, Dayton was incorporated. It became an official city in 1841. Dayton was named after the captain in the American Revolutionary War, Jonathan Dayton. He owned a substantial land area in the region. Transportation of goods saw improvement after the construction of the Dayton-Cincinnati canal. It led to the development of the economy of the city.


Dayton grew in the economy thanks to business growth in the region. John Henry Patterson bought the National Manufacturing Company together with the patent for James Ritty’s cash register. Patterson founded the National Cash Register Company (NCR) and produced its first mechanical cash register. Dayton became the heart of manufacturing in the 1900s. Kettering developed the first electric cash register, which led to the breakthrough of NCR.

Since the 1870s, Dayton has been the center of innovations and inventions. The city granted more patents compared to other cities in the country. The Wright brothers who invented the airplane were locals of Dayton.

Birthplace of Aviation

Dayton is the home of aviation. The Wright brothers were the fathers of powered flight. The Wright Flyer that was built in Dayton, took its first flight in North Carolina. After its first flight, the brothers brought it back to Dayton to improve it even more.

The government wanted to relocate the development of the airplane to Virginia, which led businesspeople in Dayton to establish the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company and build a flying field. Edward Deeds created a field between the Stillwater River and Mad River. The field was named the McCook Field, to honor Alexander McDowell McCook. This layer became the primary aviation training and research location of the Army Signal Corps. One of the Wright brothers bought land near Huffman prairie to pursue their research.

Post-War Dayton

From the 1940s through the 1970s, Dayton grew in population due to migration. A lot of veterans came home after the war. They seek jobs, especially in the industrial and manufacturing industries. During that time, the local industry was developing. There was significant growth in architecture, which made a substantial contribution to the overall growth of the city. Modern shopping establishments were constructed. The Interstate Highway System was a great help for workers so they can commute farther. Families began to live in the downtown area. In the 1950s, more homes were constructed in Montgomery County.

However, the city’s population decreased significantly in the 1980s. The decline was mainly because of the decentralization of metropolitan areas and the housing crisis. Although the same problem impacted the entire state of Ohio, Dayton felt the weight most.

Learn more