7 things you didn’t know about Xenia’s history

Xenia was founded the same year that Ohio officially became a state.

In more than 210 years, the county seat of Greene County has experienced triumphs and tragedies.

Here are seven things to know about the city’s history:

1. It was founded in 1803. That’s when a man named John Paul bought 2,000 acres from Virginia owners. Part of that land purchased became Xenia.

2. The site cost $250. That’s what Joseph C. Vance paid for the 257 acres of the town site in 1804, a year after he was hired to survey the area and lay out the site. Xenia would later officially become a city in 1834.

3. The name was chosen at a town meeting. Because the Rev. Robert Armstrong felt welcome in the community, he suggested Xenia, which means “hospitality” in Greek. The name was approved in a vote.

4. Big growth came from the railroad. After the Little Miami Railroad came to the city in the 1840s, the city’s population more than doubled in that decade. It was the first major industry in the city.

Grant Hall, photographed circa 1881, was the administrative building on the campus of the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home in Xenia. According to The Home Weekly, the orphans’ home newspaper, Grant Hall was named after General U.S. Grant, the commander of the Union forces during the Civil War. ASSOCIATION OF EX-PUPILS

5. The city housed an orphanage that cared for 13,500. As part of a national effort to care for children orphaned by the Civil War, the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home was placed in Xenia. It opened in 1870 and lasted for 125 years. The site is now home to the Athletes in Action Sports Complex and Retreat Center. (READ MORE: Inspired by battle, orphans home nurtured children for 125 years.)

6. Two tragedies struck in 1886. On March 1, 1886, an explosion at one of the two gunpowder factories in Xenia — the Miami Powder Company — was so large that reports of it came from as many as 100 miles away. Three people died in the blast.

Later that year, on May 12, 28 people were killed when one of the state’s deadliest flash floods ever rolled through the city, originating from the Shawnee Creek.

7. Famous for a tornado. The Xenia tornado of April 3, 1974 is one of the best-known weather events in the area’s history. It was the most significant of a storm outbreak that included 148 tornadoes in 13 states, and it killed 33 people and injured 1,300 others. (SEE THE PHOTOS: 25 must-see images showing the destruction of the 1974 Xenia tornado.)

A series of dramatic photographs from the Dayton Daily News archive documents in gritty black and white the devastation left in Xenia by a 1974 tornado.

Sources: City of Xenia, Ohio History Connection

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