By Ralph and James Boggs (1953)
THE BAPTIST CHURCH, the first church erected in Covington, was built in 1835 where the Shafer and Boehringer Blacksmith shop now operates. Here also was located the first cemetery in Covington which was just south of the church and later moved to Highland Cemetery.
1836 was a cold summer with frost every month and a snowstorm in August. The first Methodist Church was erected this year on Pearl Street but the very next year was destroyed by a huge oak tree which toppled on the church during a cyclone. School at this time was held in this church and also in a building on the southeast corner of High and Broadway.
1837 saw the first school house erected in the confines of Covington which was a frame structure built on the southwest corner of Main and Spring Streets. The population of the town increased rapidly and a few years later larger quarters were needed to conduct classes. The frame school was sold and a new two story building was build on the southeast corner of Spring and Pearl Streets. John and Ezekiel Ainsworth were the first teachers here. Caleb Worley organized the Covington Christian Church in a school house this year and the Troy- Greenville Road was rebuilt.
The Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in 1838 and the Piqua-Covington Turnpike Co. was formed. This was also the year of the first Miami County Fair. The largest and most successful mill was erected at Greenville Falls by George W. Smith and operated for many years as a grist, saw mill and distillery.
In 1839 work was being done on both turnpikes and the Dayton- Covington Turnpike was estimated to cost $2,800 per mile.
Aaron Boggs purchased the old Noah Davenport mills in 1843 from Benjamin Kendall, built another grist mill farther up on Harrisons Creek and a lath mill on the northwest corner of Route 48 and the Iddings Road. He and his son built another or possibly two others on a long race which parralleled the Stillwater on the east.
The first Christian Church was built on North Pearl Street in 1846 and in 1848 a charter was granted to the Masonic Lodge. In the next few years more mills came into existence; John Cable’s mills on Greenville Creek, David Croft’s mill (1830) on down from Cables; the Clayton mills on upper Stillwater, the Murphy mill site south of Covington and the Swisher Hartzell Grist Mill.
Among the many enterprises of Newberry was that of quarrying, both banks of the Stillwater River being underlaid with a good quality of Limestone. Beginning at the north of the township the first location was the lime kilns at Clayton. Coming south, the next was in the present bounds of Covington on the east banks, extending from Broadway to the south corporation line and destroyed all of old Water Street. It was owned by David Face. Across the river from Covington was a large quarry operated by David Martin. A Covington stone quarry operated south of town and J. M. Ruhl owned a quarry and lime Kiln near the south edge of Covington; also Levi Falknor had a quarry on his farm along the Stillwater. Many of the buildings in Covington have been built on foundations of native stone and laid with mortar made with burnt lime. Thousands of stone were shipped out on the railroads in the next decades. A loading platform existed in later years west of the present Covington Motor Inn and on the north side of the track. After cement and concrete block come into use, the quarries were abandoned, many parts of them having been filled.
The average pioneer seemed to see no impropriety in patronizing the local distilleries. It was customary to see the whisky bottle accompany the water jug on occasion where a few neighbors were called together. From 1840 to 1850 a strong temperance sentiment developed and in a very few years whiskey ceased to be furnished on public occasions.
In the early days wolves were very abundant and very destructive but under the stimulus of a $3.00 bounty per wolf scalp they became extinct about 1830. Bears were seldom seen after 1835 but panthers were seen occasionally until 1860. Deer became extinct about 1855 and wild turkeys were deceasing rapidly by 1870. In 1850 the second Methodist Church was erected at Pearl and Spring Streets: also the advent of carpets to some of the people of Covington and the year that white granulated sugar first came on the markets.
The year 1850 found Covington with a population of 451 and served by Mayor B. Neff, Recorder James Purdy, and Councilmen Jonathan Looker, Hamilton Bartmess, William McDowell, C. W. Carlton and C. M. Gross.
Covington had three doctors; R. N. Cox, M. R. Shellabarger and S. N. Eaker; four general stores: M. R. Shellabarger (Streibs), L. Leonard (Pool Room), A. Routson (Burks) and William Minton (Citizens National Bank). There were two grocery stores; J. B. Dunning (Bob’s Gulf Station) and Peter Nicoloy at the southwest corner of Spring and High.
C. H. Ditzler & Dreese tailors (Flory Ins.), J. E. Shellenberger groceries and hardware (Maes), Hamilton Bartmess’ harness shop (Building and Loan), J. C. Williams livery stables at northeast corner of Thompson and High, W. L. Fahnestock had a pump and cradle factory (Crawford’s) and James Purdy operated a chair and cabinet factory at the present Etter Music Store.
There were two hotels; J. N. Newman on the southwest corner of Bridge and High and the Mansion House owned by Daniel Lehman where the old hotel building is now located at the foot of the hill on High Street. The post office was on the southeast corner of Wright and High; William Robinson was the notary public, Joseph Hilliard ran a tavern and John C. Langston and Phillip Hartzell were carpenters.