The History of a Donation and a Town that Disappeared
By Vickie Bondi, Administrator
The Curator, September 2007
On any given day the Society may receive a donation for our collection. We never know what that donation will be and most of the time we have very little information on the item that is donated. A few months ago we received a very special donation from Society member Bill Yeck: three old bricks from our past, each with its own description and explanation from where it came, and each nestled in its own very lovely handmade box. Most of the time we feel lucky just to know the name of the person who made the donation, so it is extra special to have all of the great history that came with these bricks. As I read the letter that Bill sent with his three pieces of our past, I knew that I had to share his story with all of you.
"I first heard about the ghost town of Woodbourne back in the 1950’s after we had moved to Washington Township and could still see cows in the field below our house. Because I thought that the whole idea of a town disappearing was quite unusual, I wrote a letter to the Dayton Journal about Woodbourne. I even mentioned that crooked Whipp Road. It really was crooked then, with four right-angle turns between the Monkey Millers on the Lebanon Pike [Far Hills Avenue] and Mad River Road.
The history of the town of Woodbourne and the Farmers and the Mechanics Manufacturing Company and the Woodbourne Mill was intriguing to me and later on I thought we should do what we could to preserve the name Woodbourne even though the factory and the town were gone.
In about 1971, when the first right-angle turns in Whipp Road were converted to a smoother “S” curve, I was in a position to holler for the leftover land for the Park District and get it named “Woodbourne Green”.
That was shortly after the Historical Society was formed and Paul Hoy was President, and I told him I could get a rock if he would get a bronze plaque to put on it. The fellows at Pyper Sand and Gravel found a good piece of probably Niagara limestone over north of 725, I think, in what is now the Paragon Road area and set it down right in the middle of the Green with the good smooth side facing east. Paul stuck on the plaque and had a nice dedication ceremony, including the High School Band (and if people want to read the plaque, they can probably park next to the Woodbourne cemetery on the west). Anyway, we made sure that Woodbourne was one ghost town that wouldn’t be forgotten.
Then after Dottie Yeck was president of the Library Board and had promoted a library on Far hills Avenue down by Whipp Road in the Woodbourne area, she thought it would be appropriate to name the new library Woodbourne Library. After all, we already had a Centerville Library and Woodbourne was the only town in the township. That was good enough for me, but C.L. Stingley, former Superintendent of the Washington Township Schools, who was on the Library Board at that time thought maybe the school kids should name the library. C.L. was a great guy who knew a lot more about school kids than he did about ghost towns. So before a board meeting one night I drove him over to the old town and pointed out items of interest and told him lots of details about the town and the mill and by golly, he decided that Woodbourne would be a good name for the library. So now we had a park and a library named after Woodbourne."
To be continued………