Gypsies in the Miami Valley of Ohio Research Guide

Article Covers
Ohio, United States
Year range
1794 - 1978



The Miami Valley, broadly, refers to the land area surrounding the Great Miami River in southwest Ohio, USA, and also includes the Little Miami, Mad, and Stillwater Rivers as well. Geographically, it includes Dayton, Springfield, Middletown, Hamilton, and other communities. Most commonly, however, it refers to the economic and cultural-social region centered primarily on Dayton and the Greater Dayton area. Local media include the following counties and cities in the larger cultural Miami Valley:

  • Montgomery County (Dayton)
  • Greene County (Xenia)
  • Preble County (Eaton)
  • Clark County (Springfield)
  • Miami County (Troy)
  • Darke County (Greenville)
  • Champaign County (Urbana)
  • Shelby County (Sidney)
  • Logan County (Bellefontaine)
  • Butler and Warren counties (Middletown)
  • Wayne County, Indiana (Richmond, Indiana)

Gypsy History

Materials on Gypsies and the Stanley family in the Miami Valley of Ohio Held by the Dayton Metro Library [1]

Key players

The Stanley clan arrived in America in 1856 from England and moved to Montgomery and Miami Counties, Ohio. They are described in older references as an English Gypsy family and in newer references as a Romnichal family or Romany folk. Owen Stanley (1794 – 21 February 1860) “King of the Gypsies” married Harriet (Worden) Stanley (1793 – 30 August 1857) “Queen of the Gypsies”. They were parents of Owen (Jr.) and Levi and some others, possibly up to 15 children. Accounts vary about who their children were, versus their grandchildren. 1. Owen Stanley, Jr. “Sugar” married Priscilla. Sugar was born about 25 September 1816, and died 18 March 1866, age 49y, 5m, 21d. 2. Levi Stanley (1818 - 3 December 1908) “King of the Gypsies” married Matilda Joles (1821 - 15 January 1878) “Queen of the Gypsies”.

They were the parents of Paul, Levi (Jr.), Missouri, Martha Louise, Lilly, Michael, and Sofia. There may have been more children. 3.-15. some of their other children were: Loving, Johanna, Benjamin, William, Edward, Elizabeth, Gentillia, and Algenny,

Variant Spelling: Stanly

Variant Spelling: Gipsies, Gipsy

Allied Families: Boswell, Broadway, Bryer, Cooper, Harrison, Jeff/Jeffrey/Jeffry/Jeffrys, Joles, Smith, Warden/Worden, Williamson, Young .



Brentlinger, Dora., Beside the Stillwater. Evansville, IN: Page Design Company. 1989. "The Gypsy Wedding...April, 1896". pages 186-188. Includes the story of Celesta Olmitch's wedding to an unnamed Prince Stanley and a general discussion of the family. Gen R 977.172 B839BAP.

Combination Atlas Map of Montgomery County, Ohio. 1875. Stanley, Harrison, and Jeffrey plots of land in Harrison and Wayne Townships. Some Smith land may or may not be Gypsies.

Drury, A. W., History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County. Volume 1. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1909. pages 711-712. Gen R 977.173 D796.

Morewood, Vernon S., Our Gipsies in City, Tent, and Van. Available from Google Books Original at Harvard University. Published by S. Low, 1885. Digitized Nov 30, 2005. Includes references to Matilda Stanley and Gannie Geffrie’s funerals at Woodland Cemetery, Dayton.

Sester, Wanda. History of Wayne Township 1810-1976. Miamisburg, OH: Miamisburg News. 1976. pages 37, 74, 90-91. Includes article “History of the Dayton Gypsies in Wayne Township, Sulphur Grove, Six Mile Creek”. Gen R 977.172 S494H.

Smith, George., Gipsy Life: Being an Account of Our Gipsies and their Children. 1880. Available through Google Books, Original from Oxford University, Digitized Jul 4, 2006. Stanley, Harrison, and Cooper families in England are mentioned.

Wertsman, Vladimir., Romanians in the United States and Canada: Guide to Ancestry and Heritage Research. North Lake City, UT: HeritageQuest. 2002. pages 137 and 138. Gives advice on doing Gypsy genealogy research.

Zumwald, Teresa., For the Love of Dayton: Life in the Miami Valley 1796 – 2001. Dayton, OH: Dayton Daily News. 2001. pages 49, 51, and 69. References in years 1856, 1860, and 1878. 1856: Arrival of Owen and Harriet Stanley 1860: More than 60 members of the Stanley clan are buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Dayton 1878: Matilda's funeral, where over 45,000 attended.

History of Montgomery County. Chicago: Beers 1882. Book 2, pages 530-534. Gen R 977.172 H673. Section entitled "Gypsies" has genealogical information, in particular, about burials and Woodland Cemetery. Search the full text of this book at


Dayton Journal

30 March 1860, page 1, column 2, article. "Burial of the King of the Gipseys" on the death of King Owen Stanley, husband of Maud. Son, Levi, becomes the chief of the clan.
19 April 1866, Thursday, page 1, column 3. Letter to the editor mentioning Mrs. Owen Stanly's death and the funeral pyre that consumed her possessions. DML microfilm damaged, use print instead.
11 September 1878. page 1. obituary. Matilda Stanley. "Died." Mention of the death of Matilda Stanley.
14 September 1878. page 1. article. Queen Matilda Stanley’s death. "A Gypsy Funeral." Burial of Matilda Stanley at Woodlawn Cemetery.
16 September 1878. page 4. lengthy article. Queen Matilda Stanley’s funeral. "The Gypsy Funeral." The origins of the Gypsies, An Immense Crowd at Woodlawn Cemetery, and the Scene at the Grave are topics discussed.
1 August 1879, page 4. obituary. Aunt Mary Smith. "A venerable gypsy... Death of old gypsy woman One hundred and twelve years old."
13 December 1882, page 4. article. George Williamson’s murder. "Murder most foul... The story of Williamson's brutal assassanation at Courtland." An account of gypsy George Williamson's grusome murder in Alabama.
24 February 1883. page 4, column 4. obituary. “Death in the Stanley Tribe”. Israel Gray, member of the Sugar Stanley tribe dies in Natchez, Mississippi, body taken to Woodland.
28 January 1884. page 4, column 4. “Dayton Gypsies”. Death of Mr. & Mrs. McMillan of the Stanley tribe.
10 January 1887. page 3. obituary. Mrs. Mart Jeffrys. "Gypsy death." Description of the death of Mrs. Mart Jeffrys.
15 March 1887. page 4. obituary. Henry Stanley. "Burial of a Young Gypsy Chief." Burial of Paul Stanley's son.
6 April 1887. page 1 & 4. obituaries. Lutie/Jentie Jeffry Harrison. Not able to locate.
7 January 1889. page 1, column 6. obituary. Anna Louisa Stanley, daughter of Levi and Sarah, age sixteen.
11 June 1897. page 8. obituary. Queen Mary Stanley. Not able to locate.
26 June 1897. page 4. obituary. Queen Mary Stanley. Not able to locate.
23 May 1898. page 1 & 2. Story of Gypsy life as told by the Rev. Dr. D. Berger who officiated at weddings and funerals. Extensive story of their customs, habits, and superstitions. Transcription is in the Clippings Folder “Gypsies” number 2913.
12 September 1905. page 5. obituary Anna Stanley. "Weird Gypsy Rites are Administered." Anna Stanley, of French descent and relative of Famous Sugar Stanley, is buried at Calvary -- Services witnessed by number of gypsies from several states.
29 July 1918. page 2, column 3. “Gypsies Visit City”. Police tell them to get jobs or move on.
9 October 1921. page news 7. obituary. Devil Killer. Not able to locate.
19 April 1929 page 2, column 6. Obituary. "Leader of Gypsy Group Succumbs in New York City." Death of Frank Stanley, the 40 year old leader of the Gypsy band (1889-1929). Many of the members live in separate homes and do not travel together as a tribe.
16 May 1929, page 3, column 2. Article. "Gypsy Colony Bedecked for Marriage of Prince Today." Accounts of Gypsy Marriage of Louis Mitchell to Nora Rose Evans.
25 April 1937, page Main 14, column 4. Article/Obituary. "Royal Family of Gypsies Rests in Woodland Grave." Queen Matilda. History of the gypsies at Woodland Cemetery and photograph of monument.
27 July 1943, Tuesday, page 8, column 1. Obituary. Death of Richard Stanley, Sr. Died in Louisville, Kentucky, he was transported to Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. He was the son of the Gypsy King, Levi Stanley.
8 October 1943, Friday, page 4. Article. “Many Good Deeds”. Mrs. Nathan Myer Stanley. No mention of Gypsies.
12 November 1952. page 23. obituary. Alex Szegedi, leader of the Hungarian Gypsy Orchestra and Hungarian Inn owner dies at age 70. He is survived by his wife and other relatives.

Dayton Journal Herald

1 October 1939, page 24. Article. “May We Present N. M. Stanley, Creative Citizen”. No mention of Gypsies. Nathan Myer Stanley is a native of Exeter, England.
24 December 1939, page Society 10, column 4, Sunday. Article. "He Builds Rare Cimbalon to Revived Native Music." John Farkas of Middletown builds a Cimbalon, when he found none, former member of a Dayton gypsy band.
1 August 1943, Sunday, page Main 9, column 3. Stanley clan (not Gypsies) Still Bury Dead in Dayton. Photograph of Richard Stanley, Jr.'s funeral and article on family.
6 December 1947, Sunday, Spotlight, page 1. Article. “Christmas Comes Early to Makers of Greeting Cards”. This features the Stanley Manufacturing Company. No mention of Gypsies. This may be a different Stanley family.
17 February 1962, Saturday, page 19. Article. "Through Centuries Gypsies Have Wondered." Accounts of gypsy happenings, includes information on Matilda and Owen, photographs.
31 March 1962, Saturday, page 17, column 3. Article. "They Enjoy Talking About Gypsies." Stanleys go back to Berkshire, England where King Owen was born. Leadership went to King Levi and Queen Matilda.
30 July 1975, page 34. Article. Sugar Stanley. History of house at 2021 Gypsy Drive. The structure is believed to be 180 years old and is regarded as the Gypsy King's (Sugar Stanley) "palace."
10 February 1983. page 31. obituary. Stanley, Madge Dillon. No indication that she is a Gypsy. Buried in Calvary (Catholic) Cemetery.
3 May 1985. page 9. or is it 30 or 31 May 1985? Article. “Police Seek ‘Gypsy’ Thieves”.

Dayton Daily News

3 April 1901. page 8. “The Gypsy Prince Was Not Christened Today as Had Been Planned, King Sugar Stanley Dwells in Arkansas, Queen Adar Will Attend the Ceremonies”. Unnamed Harrison boy.
8 July 1908, page 4. Mrs. Elizabeth Jeffryes dies.
10 Jul 1908, page 7, column 2. Miss Elizabeth Josephine Jeffreys/Jeffries.
7 December 1908, page 2. Levi Stanley dies in Texas. Obituary. "Body of Gypsy King Placed in Vault." Body brought to Dayton from Marshall, Texas. From modest beginnings, here a half century ago, the Stanley family grew in generations and wealth.
13 April 1909, page 1, column 2. "Laid Away Just Like an Ordinary Mortal." Description of Levi Stanley's funeral. A Scripture Lesson, a Brief Address, and a Prayer Constituting the Simple Service in Woodland Cemetery Tuesday Afternoon.
23 April 1916, page 11, column 4. Maggy Anna Stanley laid to rest in Woodland with others of gypsy tribe.
10 May 1931, Sunday, magazine section, page 3, entire page Howard Burba article. "When Dayton Was Home of the Gypsies." Short history of the gypsies in Dayton.
18 March 1942. Obituary. “Funeral for N. M. Stanley to Be Friday”. Nathan Myer Stanley, founder of the Stanley Manufacturing Company. No mention of Gypsies.
26 July 1943, Monday, page 3, column 7. "Son of Gypsy King is Dead." Richard Stanley, Sr. Son of "Sugar Stanley." Obituary.
28 July 1943. Wednesday, page 18, column 2. "Rites Wednesday for Gypsy King's Son." Richard Stanley, Sr. Obituary.
3 May 1952. page 8, column 5. obituary. Gypsy Queen Annie Michaell dies in Willard, Ohio.
18 July 1960. Article. “Stanley Greetings Sold to N. Y. Firm”. No Gypsy connection.
14 April 1961. Article. “Stanley Greetings Shifts Some Operations to N. Y”. Founded by George Stanley, Sr. No mention of Gypsies.
3 January 1962. “Stanley Greeting Cards Moving to New York”. May not have anything to do with Gypsies.
30 July 1975. page 34, obituary. Richard Stanley, Sr. Article. Repeat of the Dayton Journal-Herald article. Gypsy King's "Palace"
18 Feb 1976. page 4 North, article. "Two Wayne Twp. Women Write a History of the Area". Brief mention of gypsies.
11 January 1977. Tueday, page 3, column 3, article. "Gypsies Feud over Tot." Accusation of taking baby by Jimmy Mitchell. Alex Mitchell said that the baby was with his son, Geno Samuel Mitchell.
16 February 1977. Wednesday, page 41, column 1, article. "Case Involving Feud Over Baby Dismissed." Dismissed charge of kidnapping by Jimmy Mitchell.
2 June 1978, page 28. article. The Williamson family. "Keep on Lookout for 'The Terrible Williamsons.' " Negative report of the family who number about 300.
27 April 1980, page A15. Article. “Med Student Balances Studies, Family”. Sherry Stanley, medical student, wife of Steve. No mention of Gypsies. May not be the same Stanley family.
9 October 1983. page F5. obituary. Bobby Stanley, age 31. No mention of Gypsies.
14 May 1989. page B1, continuing to B3. article. “Police Issue Warnings on Gypsies; Prof: Calling Entire Group of People ‘Thieves’ Is Racist”. Pro and con from two professors and the Oakwood Police.
21 March 1995, page C1. article. Matilda Stanley, Queen of the Gypsies, is one of the Miami Valley's remarkable women.
4 January 1997. page Opinion/Editorial, A9, Roz Young article. "Stanley tribe of gypsies settled in Miami Valley." Good account of the Stanley's in Dayton, starting with emigration from England to the settlement in the Dayton area. (First of a series).
18 January 1997. Page Opinion/Editorial, A9, Roz Young article. "45,000 Came to Dayton for gypsy burial." Discussion of the burial of Queen Maltilda Stanley in September 15, 1878. (Second of a series.)
25 January 1997. Page Opinion/Editorial, A9, Roz Young article. "No expense spared in gypsy funerals... Queen's death left band heartbroken." Inscription on Queen Matilda's grave. (Last of a Series.)
5 April 1997. page Opinion/Editorial, A13, Roz Young article. "Gypsy tribes facinated while evoking suspicion". On the "Terrible Williamsons" (First of a two- part series).
12 April 1997. page Opinion/Editorial A13, Roz Young article. "Young man, red convertible create stir in Sulphur Grove". On the "Terrible Williamsons" (Second of a two-part series).
4 July 1997 Page Go! 4. "King cons despite logic lapses, 'Traveller' offers a good ride". Film review. The Terrible Williamsons of Ohio are mentioned.
13 October 2003. page B1. article. "Burials' living history... Woodland Cemetery a well-kept 200 acre chronicle of Dayton." Short discussion of historical accouts at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.
1 June 2006. page Neighborhood 1. Article. "Storied Gypsy House for Sale." Named Stanley Gypsy House, also listed as Jacob H. W. Mumma House. Due to scandal, the 50 acre property was lost. "Test Your Knowledge of Gypsy Lore" is also included.
1 June 2006. page Neighborhood 2. article. "Dayton: City of Mystery and Scandal? Stanley Family of Gypsies." The gypsies would winter in Dayton and "roam" in the summer months.

Dayton Democrat

3 August 1878. Article. "Good Queen Matilda." Very lengthy account of the gypsies in Dayton, including Queen Matilda's funeral.

New York Times

Many historical New York Times articles are available for free from For those which are citation only, our library has microfilm.

7 August 1878, page 3. Obituary. "Burial of Gypsy Queen." Burial of Queen Matilda, wife of Levi Stanley.
16 September 1878, page 1. Obituary. "Burial of Gypsy Queen." Death of Matilda Stanley.
1 August 1881. Article. “A Romantic Gypsy Marriage”. Dinah Wharton and Henry Lee.
22 April 1882, page 5. Article/Obituary. Burial of the Stanley family including, Bushy Stanley, 3 month old son of Levi Stanley and Charlotte Stanley.
16 April 1884. article. “A Gypsy Queen’s Funeral”. Gannie Jeffers, Queen of the Gypsies, buried in Woodland Cemetery.
26 June 1895. article. “Stanley Stole His Rival’s Daughter: A Gypsy Elopement from Rye – Old Wells Pursues His Child”. Arthur Stanley and Miss A. Wells, daughter of William.
19 June 1898. article. “Gypsy Prisoner Escapes”. Toda Stanley, child bride of George, was a prisoner of the Gypsies.
12 April 1904 page 2. article. “Funeral of Gypsy Queen”. Mother Sibbie Riley, Queen of the Harrison-Cooper-Stanley tribe.
28 December 1907. article. “Robbed Gypsy Queen Expects $8,000 Back”. Feuding clans. Bud and Dick Stanley are mentioned.
29 December 1907. article. “Stole Gypsy Wedding Gifts”. Seven members of the Stanley clan stand accused of grand larceny. Prince John and Princess Ethel’s betrothal is off.
1 June 1908. article. “Gypsies’ Victim to Testify”. Leonard Allen was kidnapped by gypsies. Gypsy Stanley and wife are arrested.
25 April 1910. article. “Gypsy Princess Back Home”. Elopement of Liberia/Siberia Wells and William Stanley.
28 May 1910. article. “Minister at Gypsy Funeral”. Queen ? Stanley Kelly.
14 November 1910. article. “Gypsy Queen is Dead”. Jessie Habersham Michele, died in Cincinnati.
17 January 1911. article. “Bar from America Wife Bought Abroad: Gypsy King Can’t Bring in His New Stout Queen for Whom He Paid $60 in Bosnia”. Bosnian Gypsies pretend to be Stanleys and Mitchells to get into the country.
28 April 1929. page main 16. article. “Gypsy Wedding Off, Louisville Puzzled”. Prince Hendrik John will not wed Rosetta Stanley.
26 December 1932. page business 37. “King of Gypsies Going Abroad to Talk to Officials There”. Steve Stanley.
7 February 1933. page lost and found 20. “Gypsy ‘King’ Seized after a Long Search”. King Bimbo accused of theft.
7 October 1948. page amusements 33. “Gypsy Queen Is Buried”. Anna Yonko buried in Linden, New Jersey. Clan not mentioned.
24 March 1973. page 37. “Gypsies Go to Linden To Bury Their Queen; Followers Walk Behind”. Mary Mitchell, age 70, was the Gypsy Queen. New Jersey.

Fort Worth Daily Gazette

14 January 1887, page 4, column 5. article. “A Gypsie Queen: Miss Lucy Stanley Appointed Queen of all the Bands”. Mentions her trip to Dayton, Ohio. Available in full text and PDF scan from the Library of Congress.

New York Tribune

24 April 1904 . page 2. article. “The Strange Nomadic Race of Gypsies”. Condescending article about stereotypical thieving Gypsies. It does mention the Harrison-Cooper Stanley tribe and Mother Sibbie Riley, but the author seems to think they are Hungarian, not English. Available in full text and PDF scan from the Library of Congress.


Mumma, Douglas M. "1995 Mumma Genealogy Trip, December 24, 1995: Trip Retracing the Footsteps of my Mumma and Yeager Ancestors", Montgomery County Chapter Ohio Genealogical Society. Family Tree. volume 16, issue 3, March 1996. Article on the Mumma family includes reference to Owen Stanley. Gen R 977.172 F198.

Schlipf, Patricia A. “Montgomery County Gypsies”. Miami Valley Genealogical Society. Genealogical Aids Bulletin. volume 3, issue 3, January 1974, page 60. History of names of the Montgomery County Gypsies descended from Owen Stanley and Harriet Warden. Gen R 977.17G326.

Federal Censuses

1860 Harrison, Jeff, Grey, and Stanley families are all in Troy, Miami County, Ohio.
1870 Thomas Jeffrey family and Mary Smith are in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio.
1880 Richard and Levi Stanley families are in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio.
1900 William and Isac Stanley families are in Troy, Miami County, Ohio.
1910 William Stanley Troy, Miami County, Ohio. Isac Stanley family is in Piqua, Miami County, Ohio. Levi and Richard Stanley families are in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio.


At the Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio

Local History File – "Gypsies" includes letter from the Smithsonian Museum referencing, "When :Dayton was Home to the Gypies," article by Howard Burba and a large number of newspaper clippings.
Genealogy Correspondence File – "Stanley" includes family tree information provided by Leighlani Hammerling and other genealogical information.
Local History Room Newspaper Clippings File - "Gypsies". Information the same as Local History File.


Woodland Cemetery - Discussion of burial place of Levi and Matilda Stanley, King and Queen of the Gypsies.

Wikipedia - – entry under Levi and Matilda Stanley. May 2007. Short family tree. – full text of The Book of Modern Songs, 1858, includes the song “The Gipsy Girl” (Charlotte Stanley) by Charles Jeffreys. Wiki. Search for Owen Stanley for family tree information added by Shawna Woodard of the Dayton Metro Library and other researchers. . Leon Bey, librarian and historian, offers a lecture on the Gypsies of the area. – “Dayton's Rich Gypsy History”, alternately named “Dayton – Home of the King and Queen of the Gypsies”. Gypsies in the United States

slw/lr May 2009