Browns Chapel, OH (Browns Run) – (1801 – present farming town with less residents now than in the past)
Classification: small town
Location: German Township, Montgomery County – On Browns Run Rd near the intersection of Oxford Rd
It was settled by Richard Brown, a fur trader & farmer, in 1798. The town was surveyed in 1801 & grew with a couple of schools, a church, wool mill, & some of the local farmers also did other things like blacksmith work & carpentry. Browns Run was never a large town but had a post office from 1894 – 1899 & was widely known to be some of the best farming land in Montgomery County alongside Browns Run Creek. Roads in the early days were rough & hard to pass through, to say the least, but construction in the 1900s made travel a lot easier.
The area still keeps its name today, partly due to Brown’s Run Country Club which is a private membership golf course that opened in 1956 with the promise of playing the game in a more natural setting. Richard Brown was probably buried in Brown Run Cemetery with other early settlers & families.
Germantown, OH – (1804 – present farming, mill town, and railroad town)
Location: German Township, Montgomery County – On State Route 725
Classification: historic town
Settlers with German ancestry from Berks County, Pennsylvania begn making their way to the vicinity in the first few years of the 1800s. Philip Gunckel (1766-1848) and Catharine (Shaeffer) Gunckel (1766-1836) led a group of 24 families by flatboat to Cincinnati, and then up to Hole’s Station, later named Miamisburg. Philip was the only one who could speak English at the time. The Gunckels made a land speculation investment by buying up a bunch of the original lot recordings in the valley between Little Twin Creek and Big Twin Creek, founding Germantown in 1804. They had 8 children and Philip was a miller.
In 1806 the Guckels built a saw mill and grist mill on their land. They platted Germantown in 1814 with the main street leading from the mill into the village. The mill was sold to the Gunckels son-in-law Lewis Shuey in 1930. He rebuilt and enlarged the mill to three and a half stories in 1845. A cigar manufacturing plant bought the mill in 1888 and also used it for a tobacco warehouse. Around that time, a two-story addition was attached to the right side of the building. It’s presently operated as the Shuey Mill Inn & Events Center at 313 and is available for weddings and large events.
The Florentine Hotel at 21 W Market Street (State Route 725) started out as a brick structure that was completed in 1816. It’s currently the back portion of the former stagecoach stop and tavern. Two wood frame sections were added before 1860. Food was cooked for guests in the basement fireplace and traveled by dumb-waiter up to the restaurant on the first floor. The hotel had a few different names and 43 owners over the course of its life. It closed in 1974 while needing a lot of repairs. Two couples purchased it in 1976 and reopened the old hotel as a restaurant in 1979.
As with all of the historic towns in this book, I list many of the main attractions but also leave some surprises to be found by anyone who goes to explore them. After going to an intended destination, cruising around aimlessly and hitting the side streets in Ohio’s old towns usually leads to neat places you didn’t expect to run into. For me on this trip, it was Engine House Tattoo on E Center Street. The former firehouse was built in 1858 after the original one was destroyed in a fire. It was restored in 1996 and has been the tattoo shop since 2012.
In 1976 the area around the Florentine Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Guckel’s Town Plan Historic District. Germantown had a train station on the Cincinnati, Jackson, & Mackinaw Railroad. The station was built in 1896 and has been restored. It sits with a small length of tracks next to W Warren Street in Veterans Memorial Park. Philip and Catharine Gunckel were buried with relatives in Germantown Cemetery on State Route 725 west of town. Heading further into the outskirts of town, State Road United Methodist Church was built in 1920. The church and cemetery behind it are on land that was donated by relatives of Catharine Gunckel.
Old Dutch (Moyer) Cemetery is a mile west of the church on the south side of State Route 725. It dates back to 1820s and is named after the Moyer family who owned much of the land in the area. Some of their ancestors arrived in Germantown with the Gunckels. Moyer Road around the corner from the cemetery is also named after them. The cemetery has about 100 interments. It was once overgrown but is now preserved with a chain link fence and a historical marker. The burial ground looked nicely mowed and all of the stones appeared to be in their rightful places.
Tadmor, OH – (1851 – 1922 canal & railroad town abandoned & later flooded)
Classification: ghost town
Location: Bethel Township, Miami County & City Of Vandalia, Montgomery County – On hiking trails in Taylorsville Metropark with parking & access on both the north & south side of the park
It’s a long hike from either direction on trails off of the county service road & bike path. Tadmor was a small village that became a transportation hub as it sat at important crossroads next to the Miami-Erie Canal. It had two train stations. One of them was on the Cincinnati, Hamilton, & Dayton Railroad & another on the Dayton & Michigan Railroad. The post office went by the name Tadmer from 1867 – 1884, then Tadmor from 1884 – 1917. Most of the town’s residents moved north when the National Road (US 40) was built nearby a few years before the town flooded. There are several old cemeteries in the area where the citizens of Tadmor were buried & some remnants of the town on the hiking trails in Taylorsville Metropark.