When did Xenia’s first high school graduation take place? How many students were there? When did Abraham Lincoln visit Xenia? When was the first city jail built, and how much did it cost?
There are many important and interesting "firsts" in Xenia. In a town rich in history, there are numerous historic and just plain trivia-related facts about Xenia.
The following are just some of the many well-known, and little-known, "Xenia firsts."
Schools & Local Government
Xenia’s first recorded City Council meeting was held March 3, 1834. On January 1, 1849, Josiah Hurty was named first superintendent of Xenia City Schools. The class of 1859 was the first Xenia High School graduating class with a total of 3 students.
Xenia East High School held its first graduation in 1879. Xenia College was started on March 21, 1850. The city first saw, or heard, the telephone in 1879. The municipal waterworks started in 1886. Electricity lighted the town in 1881, but not added to the city building until 1896. The sewer system was put into operation in 1900. Natural gas was used in the city for the first time in 1905.
In 1948, the city installed the first parking meters downtown, and in 1951 public street parking was changed from angular to parallel. In 1951, the city covered 3.5 square miles and had 40 miles of streets and alleys. By 1965, this had changed to 5.3 square miles and 99.2 miles of streets and alleys.
In 1951, the city first began regular garbage collection. The Xenia Chamber of Commerce opened its doors in February 1959. In 1970, the number of Xenia City Commissioners was changed from 5 to 7 members. On May 13, 1976, the City Commission meeting was televised for the first time.
The first Agricultural Society fair was held on Court House square in 1839. In August 1845 the first train came to Xenia via the Little Miami Railroad (now known as the Little Miami Scenic Trail) from Cincinnati. On August 3 of the same year, 2 men, James Kinney and William Steele were murdered. In order to hide evidence of the crime, the Puterbaugh building in downtown was burned.
The first burial in Woodland Cemetery was held on December 7, 1847. The year 1849 saw the "summer of the cholera," and at least 85 Xenians died of the disease.
Greene County’s only public hanging took place on January 25, 1850. The unfortunate owner of this distinction was a Jesse Ransbottom, who had murdered his wife. The hanging took place at Court House square in downtown Xenia.
President-elect Abraham Lincoln made a brief stop in Xenia on February 13, 1861. In 1867 the Woman’s Club of Xenia was formed. It is believed to be the first club in the United States formed exclusively for women.
The Shawnee Creek Flood took place on May 12, 1886, with a loss of 28 lives. On December 16, 1894, the Catharine Greene Chapter of the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution) was organized. In 1901, the Junior Women’s Club was formed. On August 31, 1908, the Xenia Homecoming celebration took place, and 2 years later the 44th encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was held over three days in Xenia.
On June 2, 1916, a tornado passed through Greene County, and S. Galloway Street was flooded by subsequent rains. On February 11, 1919, the Xenia Women’s Music Club was formed, and in October 1921, the Xenia Business and Professional Women’s Club was started. In 1931, the Greene County Museum Association was formed.
On May 13, 1933, a severe storm struck eastern Xenia. One person was killed and 30 were injured. In 1942, the Xenia High School basketball team won the state championship. On February 21, 1949, Xenia’s first drive-in restaurant opened. It was called the "Chat ’n Chew". On November 25, 1951, "the big snow," a major snow storm, struck the Xenia area. On April 23, 1954, the Greene County Museum Association became the Greene County Historical Society.
On April 3, 1974, an F-5 tornado struck Xenia at 4:42 p.m. Several days later, President Richard Nixon visited Xenia to view the devastation.
Buildings & Sites
The city’s first jail was completed on June 24, 1836. Built by Daniel Lewis, it cost $4,600. The second County Court House in Xenia was completed on November 24, 1843. The St. Brigid cemetery was consecrated in 1850. The 6th jail in Xenia was completed on December 8, 1860, and was built by John Scott.
In February 1868, the City Building and the Opera House first opened. In 1875, the addition to the County Court House was completed. A new high school was built on East Market Street in 1881. In February of the same year, the Opera House was remodeled.
Xenia’s first hospital, Wilson Hospital, opened in 1893. Lincoln grade school was built in 1893 on East Market Street, and in 1902, 3 schools were built: Orient Hill grade school on South Monroe Street, Xenia East High School, and McKinley Grade School on West Market Street.
On June 7, 1906, the Carnegie Library opened. In 1914, both the Post Office and fire station on East Main Street were completed. In 1919, the interior of the City Building was redecorated. In 1923, Central High School was built. In 1939, the Field House, later named Benner Field House, was constructed on Edison Boulevard.
On October 27, 1939, the new City Building was dedicated. On June 3, 1948, construction began on the first house in Stadium Heights, and later that year the Amlin Heights subdivision was approved. Shawnee grade school was built in 1951, and on April 22, 1951, Greene Memorial Hospital was dedicated.
Between 1955 and 1958, there were 1,506 new homes built in Laynewood. In 1957, Central High School became Central Junior High, and later in that year the new Xenia High School opened. A new firehouse on East Main Street was built in 1961. On April 22, 1968, the Steele Building annex burned. In 1970, West Junior High became Warner Junior High. In September 1977, the new Xenia High School opened, and in April 1978, the new Greene County Library branch in Xenia opened.