In the middle of a cholera epidemic, the Bishop of Cincinnati sent Father Leo Meyer, S.M., to minister to the sick at Emmanuel parish in Dayton. Here, he met John Stuart, whose little daughter died of cholera the year before. Mr. Stuart wanted to sell his Dayton property and return with his wife to Europe. Father Meyer gave him a medal of St. Joseph and a promise of $12,000 in return for Dewberry Farm — 125 acres of vineyards, orchards, a mansion and farm buildings.
On July 1, 1850, St. Mary’s School for Boys, a frame building that not long before had housed farm hands, opened its doors to 14 primary students from Dayton. Known at various times as St. Mary’s School, St. Mary’s Institute and St. Mary’s College, the school assumed its present identity in 1920.