The women behind one of the Oregon District’s most beloved shops are paying homage to the beloved queen of Dayton’s long-dimmed Red Light District.
Brittany Smith and Amanda Hensler, co-owner of Heart Mercantile, say their new clothing shop Hedges & Wolf was name partly to honor Elizabeth “Lib” Hedges (Elizabeth Richter).
The store opened on Dec. 8 at 504 E. 5th St., the original site of Heart Mercantile.
In October, Heart moved just a few doors down to 438 E. Fifth St., the former home of ReCreate Music.
Hensler said Hedges, an immigrant from the German kingdom of Prussia, was known for her strength and smarts and was a fierce protector of the women who worked in her house.
She was also very successful.
When Hedges died in 1923, her assets — earned through prostitution, real estate and investments in several Dayton companies — were worth $202,546.17.
She is buried on the hilltop at Woodland Cemetery next to her sister and right-hand woman, Louisa La Fontaine.
Lib had an imposing granite monument topped by a seated figure of a weeping Greek-style goddess installed.
The “Wolf” in the store’s names honors The Wolf Brothers.
This from a history piece that Roz Young, a now-deceased writer for the The Journal Herald and the Dayton Daily News, wrote for Summer 1967 edition of the Montgomery County Historical Bulletin:
William, Moses, Lee and Ralph Wolf were four prosperous brothers who lived with their widowed mother Sarah on Jefferson street not far from Warren. William and Moses operated a business under the name of Wolf Brothers, General Bill Posters and Distributors.
The other two, operating as Lee Wolf and Brother, were manufacturers of cigars and dealers in tobacco and confections. They also sold books, music and operated a news depot. Both companies worked out of 100-104 South Jefferson.
Whether the Wolf brothers patronized the houses of Elizabeth and Louisa, we shall never know. All are long gone. But one of the brothers certainly made a spot for himself in Louisa’s heart somehow, for the second item of her will read:
“I give, devise, and bequeath to my friend, Moses C. Wolf, of Dayton, Ohio, the sum of one thousand dollars; also my horse and phaeton and the set of harness belonging to same…I make this bequest to my said friend as an expression of my appreciation of his uniform kindness to me.”
>> RELATED: Heart Mercantile is expanding
The rest of Young’s piece can be found on Dayton History Online.
The shop sells men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, bags and accessories.
Like Heart, it is owned by Smith, Hensler, Carly Barrett and Kait Gilcher.