Robert Leslie

Robert Leslie, was a men's clothing retailer turned real estate developer. He was known for promoting Floral Avenue in Norwood, although it appears that he sold real estate in other parts of Norwood and Cincinnati. Leslie Avenue in Norwood may be named for him.


Mr. Leslie lived at 4243 Floral Avenue (at the time, the southwest corner of Floral and Jefferson, but now located one house south of that intersection). The photograph of this house was included on page 32 of the 1894 Mulford & Betty publication, Norwood, Her Homes and Her People."

His first wife, Aurelia A. Leslie, daughter of J. W. & Eveline Jackson, died at the age of 23 years, 11 months, in Cincinnati, her hometown, on August 20, 1858 from childbirth. There daughter, Ella E. Leslie, was born September 4, 1854, and died November 18, 1931. She lived with her father at his Floral Avenue residence in Norwood.

Mr. Leslie's second wife, Amelia M. Leslie, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, around 1842, to Solomon L. and Mary A. Brooks. She died from cancer on February 18, 1895, in Norwood, at the age of 53.

Robert and Amelia had one son, Walter Brooks Leslie, who was in the furnishing-goods business in New York, and a daughter, Alice A., who married William A. White, of Leslie, Dicks & Company. Walter was born June 14, 1862, and died December 12, 1899, while living in New York City. Another daughter, Hattie Leslie, was born January 29, 1864, and died at the age of 12 on February 5, 1876. She died from a broken neck, during a panic evacuation after a false alarm for a fire was called at the over-crowded Robinson's Opera House in Cincinnati.

In 1900, boarding with Robert and his daughter Ella, at their Floral Avenue home, were 74-year-old physician Samuel Cheesman and his 61-year-old wife A. M.

Irish born - becomes an American businessman

Robert Leslie was born May 18, 1832, in Dublin, Ireland, to Thomas and Harriet Leslie. In 1836, at the age of four, he immigrated with his family to New York. In 1848, he came to Cincinnati with his brother James, who established a downtown "furnishing goods and hosiery" store. Robert was employed as a salesman. At the age of 18, in 1850, he was made a partner and by 1855, he had bought his brother's interest.

Successful clothing store operator

Over the next several years, he was in the gentlemen's clothing and tailoring business by himself and with others. "Taylor, Leslie & Company," "Barwise & King," "Robert Leslie's" and "Queen City Shirts" were the business names. According to the 1868 Cincinnati Directory, he lived at 506 Baymiller and worked as a clerk at 100 West 4th Street—which was the address for L. T. Barwise & J. King, merchant tailors and gents' furnishers. In 1869, at 37 years old, he owned Robert Leslie's, a gentlemen's clothing store, at the northwest corner of 4th and Race Streets in Cincinnati. That same year, James Leslie, likely his brother, had a business as a "dental depot"— listed the next year as "gold beater"—at the same address. In 1883, Robert Leslie's gents' furnishing goods store was located at 224 Vine Street. By 1887, Leslie's clothing business was listed as "neck wear" and located at 20 Emery Arcade in downtown Cincinnati. By the time the 1892 directory was published, the Leslie clothing business was no longer listed.

According to the 1869 Cincinnati Directory, Mr. Leslie was living in Sharpsburg. The 1870 directory recorded his residence as Norwood. No home address was given for 1871. However, from 1872 to at least 1877, he appeared to live at 102 Poplar, Cincinnati. He returned to Norwood by 1885, or earlier.

(Note: In 1867, L. C. Hopkins, another Norwood developer, moved his dry goods/clothing store from Fifth and Vine Streets to the southwest corner of Fourth and Race Streets, across the street from the (future?) Leslie store. The next year, Mr. Hopkins sold his clothing business, which kept his name, to his partners.)

While living in Cincinnati and Norwood, Mr. Leslie operated men's clothing stores. The following is a facsimile of an advertisement in the Sunday, April 4, 1875, edition of The Cincinnati Commercial newspaper.

THE BEST $1 50, $2, $2 50


I N    A M E R I C A



N o r t h w e s t   C o r n e r


Gets into real estate and insurance

At the age of 53, in 1885, he was the senior partner in Leslie, Dicks & Company, a real-estate business he started.

In 1888, he was a signer of the petition to incorporate the territory within Section 34 of Columbia Township, Hamilton County, Ohio, as the Village of Norwood. This meant he was an "elector," or registered voter, residing within that territory.

Apparently, his real estate business went under various names as shown by the following facsimile of an advertisement for Robert Leslie & Company's East Norwood real estate in the Sunday, April 28, 1889, edition of The (Cincinnati) Commercial Gazette newspaper.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, at 2 P.M.,

REAL ESTATE EXCHANGE, College Building, East Side
of Walnut St., Bet. Fourth and Fifth Sts.

   East Norwood  is at  the crossing  of  the  C., W. & B. and  C., L. & N. Rail-
roads, where all trains must stop, giving the advantage of over forty trains daily.

   It will also be the terminus of the new
Which will be in operation September next.

   Those  wishing to purchase a beautiful lot for a  Suburban  Home can not af-
ford to miss this  opportunity.  Only  twenty-nine  lots  remain  unsold  in  this
beautiful  subdivision,  and  will be sold without reserve.  Those wishing to visit
and  view  the  property  before  the sale  will be  furnished  with plats and free
transportation by applying to

ROBERT LESLIE & CO., Real Estate Brokers,

According to the 1892 Cincinnati Directory, the Robert Leslie & Co.'s real estate office had moved from 76 Johnston Building to 54 Pike Building. By 1894, his company had added a fifty-acre subdivision to South Norwood, containing two hundred lots. (Interestingly, the Elsmere subdivision, located south of South Norwood, described its initial plat of 200 lots, also, in an April 1889 advertisement. John G. Brotherton was probably the developer of that subdivision.) Around 1896, Leslie was a partner in the real estate and insurance company of Leslie & White (perhaps in association with his son-in-law). The business had offices at the Hopkins Railroad Station, at the intersection of the C. L. & N. R. R., Montgomery Road and what was originally the eastern part of Hopkins Avenue (but, is now the western section of Ashland Avenue), and at the Pike Building in downtown Cincinnati. They sold lots and houses in Norwood, Pleasant Ridge, Evanston, Hyde Park and Walnut Hills.

First Fire Brigade Action in Norwood
On Tuesday, January 15, 1888, the week-old South Norwood Fire Company fought its first fire when gasoline ignited in Robert Leslie's basement on Floral Avenue. This was the first fire company in what was soon to become the Village of Norwood.

Dies in Norwood
On February 3, 1914, at the age of 81, Robert Leslie died in Norwood. At his death, only his two daughters and three grandchildren survived him.