About Us

History of The Wright Van Cleve House

Our property is situated in what used to be known as Wayne Township, which was formed in 1810. In 1981 the township became what is now known as the City of Huber Heights. The property has been reported as having been a stagecoach stop, part of the Underground Railroad, and even visited by Johnny Appleseed. While none of these rumors have been confirmed at this time, they all add to the charm of the property.

The Wright Van Cleve House is named after two distinguished residents of the Dayton area. William and Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Van Cleve, the former and original founder of Dayton, Ohio occurring on April 1, 1796, the latter related to the Wright Brothers. The property is recorded in Montgomery County dating back to 1813. William received a land patent for the property in 1815 that was signed by President James Madison. William was a Captain in the War of 1812 serving with the Dayton Riflemen. He died in the home on May 7, 1828. William’s brother Benjamin Van Cleve, also a founding father of Dayton, and Benjamin’s son John W. Van Cleve, were two well-known and respected residents of early Dayton. William’s third and last wife was Eliza Wright. Eliza was the great aunt to Orville and Wilbur Wright, her brother Dan being their grandfather. William and Eliza had three children together: Sarah Elizabeth (b. 9/11/1823-d. 10/2/1904), Amy Louise (b .6/6/1825-d. 6/19/1826), and Philena (b. 5/31/1827-d. 6/6/1837). After William’s death, Eliza moved to a home on what is now known as State Route 40 in Bethel Township, and later with her daughter Sarah (Van Cleve) and son-in-law Rev. Aaron Worth in Indiana where she died in 1851. Rev. Worth’s family was involved in The Underground Railroad in Indiana, his uncle having been arrested for his efforts. William’s second wife was Sarah Miley (b. 1791-d. 1820). William and Sarah had a daughter, Catherine (Van Cleve) McFadden (b. 9/14/1815-d. 3/29/1904), who lived in Bethel Township just north of the border of then Wayne Township, on what is now State Route 202, for several decades until her death in 1904.

Beniah and Jane (Van Cleve) Tharp then purchased the property. Jane was the daughter of William Van Cleve and Effie Westfall, William’s first wife, whom he married in 1800. They had five children, with Jane (b. 9/18/1802-d. 3/15/1839) being the oldest. Jane married Beniah Tharp (b. 9/15/1798-3/14/1875) on April 16, 1823. They had two children: William Van Cleve Tharp (2/6/1824-12/1/1876) and Mary Eliza Tharp (b. 3/11/1827-10/12/1895). After Jane’s death, Beniah married Harriett Sturr (b. 6/19/1818-d. 3/30/1899) on January 3, 1843. Beniah and Harriett had two children: Beniah W. Tharp (b. 7/7/1844-d. 8/21/1863) and Silsbee S. Tharp (b. 9/2/1846-d. 8/28/1868). Beniah W. Tharp enlisted in the Union Army at Camp Piqua, the 110th OVI, in August 1862. He was wounded and captured in the Battle of Winchester on June 15, 1862, sent to Libby Prison, later released, and sent home. He died of his wounds on August 21, 1863. Beniah and Harriet moved back to Dayton after their son’s death but retained ownership of the property until it was sold in 1876.

The property changed hands several times over the years and in 1919, then-owner Charles Weng and his wife Julia, sold the property to Jacob Huber and his wife Mary, Jacob being the grandfather of Charles Huber, the founder of Huber Heights. The property is recorded in Montgomery County as being in the Jacob Huber Plat.

Again, the property changed hands many times, and in 1942, Richard and Vera Niekamp purchased the property. The Niekamps made several improvements to the property as evidenced through personal photographs graciously provided to us by their niece Vicki Lucious, and by aerial photographs taken from the 1930s and compared to aerial photographs taken in the 1940s.

In 1950, Lee and Alma Hilgeford purchased the property from the Niekamps. Lee and Alma’s daughter Betty (Hilgeford) Gough also kindly provided us with some pictures of the property. The Hilgefords were the last family to live on the property and use it as a private residence.

In 1962 Sophia Klein, an entrepreneur, purchased the property from the Hilgeford family and built the addition that now exists onto the home for her business. The Country Squire Inn, as it was called, was a very well-known and patronized restaurant. It operated during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Sophia’s original plan was to renovate the barn that once sat where the south parking lot exists today. During renovations, the barn caught fire and was destroyed. The property remained in Sophia’s hands after the closing of The Country Squire Inn and was used for other businesses until 1985 when she sold it to the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The property sat empty thereafter for many years and in 2005, we purchased it with the hope of one day renovating it into an event venue. After a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, our dream has come true.

Welcome to The Wright Van Cleve House