The year after Kentucky became a state in 1792, the state legislature passed an act that called for the clearing of a wagon road from Frankfort to Cincinnati. This road closely followed the old buffalo road, which ran along the Dry Ridge and became known as Georgetown Road. There was not a town between Covington and Georgetown.
In 1813, Robert Johnson and John D. Watkins, owners of the land that would become Elsmere and Erlanger, divided their property into two equal tracts of 1100 acres. Later that year, Johnson sold half of his tract to Bartlett Graves and the other half to John Stansifer. Stansifer was a native of Germany, born in 1744. He first came as an indentured servant to Virginia, where he married Jemima Clore. By 1850, John’s Family had sold all its interest in the property, known as South Erlanger at that time.
February 12, 1874 was one of the most important days in Erlanger and Elsmere’s history as the trustees of the Cincinnati Southern Railroad announced that they would build a bridge over the Ohio River into Ludlow and that the railroad was coming to Elsmere and Erlanger. The impact of the railroad on these communities cannot be overestimated. The railroad brought many interesting and industrious people to the area. This is when the Elsmere and Erlanger Syndicates were formed to entice buyers. Free commuter transportation to Cincinnati was added as an incentive.
In May, 1896, South Erlanger incorporated as the City of Elsmere named after Elsmere Avenue in Norwood, Ohio. What began as a small railroad community suddenly matured into a major suburb along the Old Lexington Pike.