From the very beginning, Troy has been a city of ideas. Why name a city at the edge of civilization in the early 1800s after a legendary Greek citystate? Well, the city's founders apparently had big plans. They combined frontier opportunity with a love of classical Greek literature to lay the foundation for what would become a unique American city.
The Troy area was a popular area long before the first European settlers arrived to set up shop. Native Americans used portions of the Miami River as a highway and the land that later became Miami County was a center of Miami and Shawnee Indian life.
The city’s story begins in with Benjamin Overfield, a Pennsylvanian who moved west and decided Miami County was the right place to put down roots. He opened Overfield Tavern in1808 on the west bank of the Miami River, across the river from the tiny village of Staunton. The tavern is still there today and is one of the many buildings in Troy listed on the NationalRegister of Historic Places.
Troy was incorporated in 1814. Many of the early citizens were Revolutionary War veterans or sons of veterans like Overfield who moved west to seek their fortunes. The city’s early years were devoted to building a community, not an easy job on what was then the frontier. As things turned out, the city’s biggest battle wasn’t with Native Americans or with the British during the War of 1812. It was with the neighboring city of Piqua over which city would be the county seat.
For years, the two cities competed to be the seat of county government, establishing a rivalry that continues today, although in a much more friendly way. The issue wasn’t entirely solved until the 1880s, when Troy won the “Courthouse War.” Troy’s central location (and some say its especially courteous treatment of representatives from the state government) finally won the day. The majestic Miami County Courthouse was built on West Main Street in the 1880s and continues today to be one of the most outstanding examples of courthouse architecture in the Midwest.
Innovation always has been an important part of the city’s history. The Miami-Erie Canal, the latest in transportation, came to Troy in 1837. Portions of the city’s canal history can still be seen on the south edge of town where surviving canal locks can be viewed from one of the city’s new bike paths.
The importance of agriculture to the area’s growth was highlighted by the first Miami County Fair in 1847. The fair is still held in Troy each year and serves as a reminder of the role agriculture continues to play in Miami County.
The town continued its steady growth through the 19th century, but it was the creativity of a new breed of entrepreneurs that brought the city new prosperity in the opening years of the 20th century.
The Hobart Manufacturing Co., which eventually became one of the world’s foremost commercial food equipment companies, and Hobart Brothers Co., a world leader in welding, both were founded in the early 1900’s. Soon after, Clayton Brukner brought his WesternAviation Co. (WACO) to Troy. These companies took Troy to the world, but also brought the world to Troy, providing stimulation for other local entrepreneurs.
That stimulation continues today, with the Troy Development Council’s efforts to make the city attractive to international businesses. At the start of the 20th century, Troy was a small city that was just beginning to reach out to the world. With the start of the 21st century, Troy has become a mature city, has contacts all over the globe and has become home to a number of international companies.
While businesses flourished, so did the city. Careful planning created a remarkable recreational complex through the center of the city along the Great Miami River. Hobart Arena, Troy Memorial Stadium and Miami Shores Golf Course, the anchors of this area, were built at mid century. Additional features, such as Duke Park, Hobart Urban Nature Preserve and a new water park, have been added in recent years. In fact, today, Troy has over one thousand acres of parkland within the city. Institutions such as The Troy Foundation, one of the larger community foundations in America, have provided funding for a wide variety of civic improvements.
In recent years, the city has become a favorite stopping place for presidents. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all have campaigned here, as have numerous other presidential candidates.
Things haven’t always been easy, though. The devastating flood of 1913 was a disaster for the entire Miami Valley, including Troy. When the water finally went away, Troy residents participated in the creation of the Miami Conservancy District, an innovative regional flood control system. The conservancy district continues to protect the region while also providing numerous recreational areas for residents.
The story of Troy’s past is kept alive in a number of places. First on the list are the historic buildings in Troy’s downtown area, including the Miami County Courthouse, Troy-Hayner Cultural Center and the various buildings in Troy’s historic public square. In fact, the entire public square, with its beautiful fountains and grounds, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
To get a more specific explanation of Troy’s past, you can visit any number of Troy museums and reference sites.
The Overfield Tavern Museum, located in Troy’s first permanent structure, was built in 1807 and houses a number of early 19th century items.
The Museum of Troy History is located in a Civil War era home and features household items from the 1850s to the 1950s as well as rotating historic displays.
The WACO Museum and Aviation Learning Center pays tribute to early aviation. It also hosts WACO fly-ins at its airfield that attracts aviation enthusiasts from around the country.
The Troy Hall of Fame, with displays in Hobart Arena, honors Troy’s most famous residents. It tells the stories of entrepreneurs, football stars, educators, inventors, artists and others who have influenced, not only Troy, but the entire world.
The local history library is a branch of the Troy-Miami County Library and a collaborative effort with the Troy Historical Society. It is one of the finest research and genealogy centers in the area. Open six days a week , it is located in the heart of downtown Troy.