Showing posts with label 1830s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1830s. Show all posts

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Earthworks and Cows and Hills, Oh My! A View of Chillicothe in the 1830s

"Chillicothe with Cows" Staffordshire platter. Used courtesy of Prices 4 Antiques.

In the early through mid 19th century, a considerable volume of Staffordshire pottery was created with views of American scenes. They were created, in Staffordshire, for the United States audience. Four illustrate Ohio views: two of Chillicothe, the first capitol of the state; and one each of Sandusky and Columbus.

Sandusky Staffordshire platter. Reproduced from Pictures of early New York on dark blue Staffordshire pottery, together with pictures of Boston and New England, Philadelphia, the South and West (1899) by R.T. Haines Halsey. Used courtesy of Boston Public Library and the Internet Archive.

There's little doubt that the Sandusky platter does, in fact, illustrate Sandusky, Ohio. It's consistent enough what was known about the city at the time that we can be confident in this assumption.

Columbus Staffordshire platter. Reproduced from Pictures of early New York on dark blue Staffordshire pottery, together with pictures of Boston and New England, Philadelphia, the South and West (1899) by R.T. Haines Halsey. Used courtesy of Boston Public Library and the Internet Archive.

Likewise, we can say the same for this view of Columbus. It illustrates the city from a viewpoint similar to that used by Thomas Kelah Wharton, below.

Columbus, Ohio from the south west
Columbus, Ohio from the south west. A drawing (1832) by Thomas Kelah Wharton. Used courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The similar in the lay of the city in Wharton's viewpoint, from the southwest, would seem to suggest that both views were made near the same time.

The two Chillicothe views - the one illustrated above and Chillicothe with raft - have, to this point, presented more difficulty. The most obvious landmark, the first statehouse, isn't visible in either view. It's been suggested by many that these views might not be Chillicothe at all, but rather, some other images chosent to stand in.

I tend to be cautious about asserting that a view isn't a place without evidence as to the actual location of the view being depicted. For an example of the dangers of these assumptions, I need point no further than Karl Bodmer's print of the Cleveland lighthouse, which many asserted couldn't be Cleveland because the lighthouse was clearly different and had different surroundings. It turned out that the structure being depicted was the harbor light, as is illustrated in depth in New Find! First* Painting of Cleveland in Color!

S.W. View of Chillicothe
S.W. View of Chillicothe. An engraving (1839) by Charles Foster. Reproduced from Chillicothe, Ohio by G. Richard Peck. Used courtesy of the Ross County Historical Society.

The landscape illustrated in the Staffordshire platter of Chillicothe seemed inconsistent with the one shown in this 1839 engraving by Charles Foster, one of four views of the city that he printed that year. This made me less comfortable with the assumption that the view on the platter was, in fact, Chillicothe, Ohio.

George Wood residence, Chillicothe, Ohio
George Wood residence, Chillicothe, Ohio. A watercolor painting (late 1830s). Used courtesy of Donald Carpentier.

A couple weeks ago, my colleague, Andrew Richmond, asked me if I might be able to identify the house illustrated in this watercolor from the late 1830s, the residence of one George Wood. I dug in. While Wood was clearly a man of considerable means, I wasn't able to learn that much about him. I was able to narrow down the general location of the residence, but beyond that, I was unsure. What followed was a lot of hemming and hawing.

Finally, I sent an email to Pat Medert, Archivist, at the Ross County Historical Society. Her response was most illuminating: "The house in the painting appears to be that of George Wood who resided at 144 W. Fifth St. George was born in 1793 in Jefferson County, VA. The family moved to Kentucky when he was a child, and in 1810, he and his brother, John moved to Chillicothe. They were partners in the mercantile and pork packing businesses. George also invested extensively in farm land in Ross County and was a person of considerable wealth at the time of his death in January 1861. He was never married and his estate went to his sister, Susan Hoffman."

Medert added, "George bought the property in 1833 and erected the house in 1837. It can be seen in a sketch made by Charles Foster in 1839. The house was remodeled in 1874, and renovations included the construction of an addition to the east side of the house. It is still standing and is well maintained."

(The George Wood residence is about a third of the way from the left in the Charles Foster print.)

The George Wood residence is on the south side of the street. The surrounding geology means that this view is looking approximately southwest.

This is, indeed, an interesting painting, but what does it have to do with the Staffordshire Chillicothe (with cows)?

Look at the background of the George Wood residence. The hills aren't covered with trees like they are in the Charles Foster print. Further, they're similar in style to the view on Chillicothe (with cows). This suggested to me, "Hey, this might actually be Chillicothe, Ohio."

With the assumption that the view on this piece of Staffordshire was Chillicothe, I tested what would happen if one made the rest of the evidence fit that hypothesis.

Chillicothe Courthouse, Etc., in 1801
Chillicothe Courthouse, Etc., in 1801. A print (June, 1842) by Horace C. Grosvenor. Published in American Pioneer (June, 1842). Used courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

This is the first statehouse, as illustrated in 1842. At the time, the building was still standing - this represents a reasonably accurate depiction of the structure. The statehouse was in the middle of this city. What this illustration doesn't convey are the significant quantity of buildings that were built up around the structure by the 1830s.

Since the statehouse was only two stories tall, it wouldn't stand out much among the buildings.

Detail, Chillicothe with cows Platter
Chillicothe with cows (detail). A Staffordshire platter (circa 1830). Used courtesy of Dennis and Dad Antiques.

With the assumption that this is Chillicothe, the statehouse is most likely represented by the cupola indicated by the green arrow. With that knowledge, how can we orient ourselves in this city?

The 1860 Topographical map of Ross County, Ohio includes the first detailed map of Chillicothe that I've been able to find. Note: if you're aware of an earlier one, please let me know. The lack of such a map seems odd, especially given that one of the great early maps of the state, Hough and Bourne's 1815 Map of the State of Ohio was published there.

The 1860 map doesn't help much. The landscape illustrated in the foreground, which I assumed was the floodplain of the Scioto River, had been significantly changed since the view used for the Staffordshire platter was made.

Map of a Section of Twelve Miles of the Scioto Valley with its Ancient Monuments
Map of a Section of Twelve Miles of the Scioto Valley with its Ancient Monuments. Constructed by E.G. Squier, 1847. A print (June, 1847) by Sarony and Major. Plate II in Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (June, 1847) by Ephraim G. Squier and Edwin H. Davis. Used courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

In a desperate measure for any sort of early map of the city at all, I remembered this wonderful view from Squier and Davis' 1847 Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley. It illustrates all of the Native American earthworks present in the vicinity of Chillicothe, most of which are now lost.

Detail, Map of a Section of Twelve Miles of the Scioto Valley with its Ancient Monuments
Detail, Map of a Section of Twelve Miles of the Scioto Valley with its Ancient Monuments. Constructed by E.G. Squier, 1847. A print (June, 1847) by Sarony and Major. Plate II in Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley (June, 1847) by Ephraim G. Squier and Edwin H. Davis. Used courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

This detail illustrates the area being illustrated. In the lower left are the hills we see in the background. The green "X" marks the approximate location of the statehouse. The artist's viewpoint is marked by a red arrow.

The cows, then, it seems, are sitting inside a circular mound! What better visual icon could there be for that area, really, than the earthworks built by the Native Americans?

Not only does this information help to reasonably conclude that the view is, indeed, Chillicothe, Ohio, but it means that we now have an image of a Native American earthwork that before this point we knew only by a measured drawing!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Granville, Ohio, in the 1830s - Two Views or Two Copies of the Same View?

[Granville Female College]
[Granville Female College]. A drawing (1830s?). Used courtesy of Garth's Auctions.

When I first saw the thumbnail for this drawing in the current catalogue at Garth's Auctions, I knew the composition was familiar - namely, it was a subject illustrated in a lithograph by one M. French, made between 1835 and 1839, in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. The date for the drawing was listed as "mid 19th century" - I hoped that the lithograph might provide some context - most likely the size of the trees - that would give a more specific date.

On further examination, I've come to see that they're a lot closer in composition - and likely date - than I had initially guessed.

Female academy, Granville Ohio
Female academy, Granville Ohio. A lithograph (between 1835 and 1839) from a drawing by M. French. Printed by Bufford's Lith. Used courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.

There are quite a few elements shared by both images. A woman in a white dress stands in the front door of the Academy, with two women in dark dresses immediately to the right. The chimney of the house to the left ends up centered in a second floor window in both cases - even though they have rather different perspectives. The trees both show approximately the same amount of growth. Many (though not all) of the same windows are open on the front of the structure. There's even a similarity in the toning of the sky.

The drawing features central chimneys, while the print has more of them, smaller in size. In the drawing, the gable has a single window, while in the print, there are two smaller ones. In the print, the house is closer to the street, while in the drawing, it appears to have been moved back. In the drawing, which has a more crude sense of perspective, we can see more detail in the house to the right. The print has a different fence from the drawing.

It seems likely that these two images share some sort of common source - but what that source is, I do not know.

They have enough in common that one might start to consider if the drawing was a copy after the print - but the lack of the same skill in perspective tends to refute this.

My guess - and it is a guess - is that these were the product of two students, working under the same teacher at Granville Female Academy at the same time. On a given day, they went out and made sketches together. They included some suggestions about perspective - and some idealized items (the people walking on the street) as suggested, perhaps by the teacher. It might be worth the time to see if an "M. French" was, indeed, a student there at that time.

This pair appears to provide a look at how two artists, one more skilled than the other, approached the same subject at the same time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Find! First* Painting of Cleveland in Color!

Lake Erie, From Cleveland
Lake Erie, From Cleveland. A watercolor painting (July, 1833) by Seth Eastman. Used courtesy of Sloans and Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers, Bethesda, Maryland.

When I think about downtown Cleveland and the mouth of the Cuyahoga, images of industry and commerce come to mind. While I know it wasn't always this way, this area has so long been the heart of the city it's hard to imagine it otherwise. Even Thomas Whelpley's four views of the city, published in 1834, show a quickly-growing city.

It's for that very reason that this watercolor, made by Seth Eastman in July, 1833, is so special - it represents the earliest detailed painting I'm aware of of the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

Eastman probably came through Cleveland en route from Fort Snelling, in Minnesota, to West Point, New York, where he had received a teaching appointment. He appears to have been looking west from what is now the intersection of West Sixth Streets and Lakeside Avenue.

In the foreground, to the right, there's a group of five Native Americans, said to be Iroquois. A few people sit on the hillside, where a row of fenceposts is visible. Closer to the river are a couple of buildings, one of which appears to be a log house. On the river, there are what could be canal boats. The pier and harbor light are also present. The hill at the mouth of the Cuyahoga, on the west bank, had not yet been flattened. A steamship, with a cloud of black smoke, sails on Lake Erie. In the distance, we see what would come to be called the "Gold Coast."

These things are all significant.

There are almost no historic images of Native Americans in Ohio. Of those, virtually all were either made years after the fact, based on memory and conjecture or were made by artists who hadn't seen the people in question. I can't think of another painting (within the scope of my current research - before 1866) that documents Native Americans in Ohio at the time the painting was made.

The presence of a log building is also notable - there are very few known in northern Ohio. While there were a good number built (though not in such numbers as in the southern part of the state) they would have usually been covered with siding as soon as was practical, as a matter of fashion and appearance.

Further, this painting documents Cleveland at a point just before it underwent a major transformation. With the completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal, Cleveland and the interior of Ohio were opened up to commerce. The cost of shipping goods dropped considerably. Cuyahoga County's population would more than double between 1830 and 1840. It would almost double again by 1850. The landscape illustrated here would soon be gone.

Cleveland, 1853
Cleveland, 1853 A hand colored lithograph (1853) by B.F. Smith, after a drawing by J.W. Hill. Published by Smith Bros. & Co. Used courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society. Reproduced from Bird's Eye Views: Historic Lithographs of North American Cities by John W. Reps.

This view, made 20 years later, from the west bank of the Cuyahoga, looking east, shows the magnitude of the change. While the west bank still has plenty of vacant land, the east side and downtown are mostly built up. Warehouses line the banks of the Cuyahoga River. To the right, we see both the Cuyahoga River and the narrower Ohio and Erie Canal.

Cleveland, Ohio, From Brooklyn Hill Looking East
Cleveland, Ohio, From Brooklyn Hill Looking East. A hand-colored etching (1834) by Thomas Whelpley. Engraved by Milo Osborne. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

The point from where Seth Eastman made the watercolor is illustrated in this 1834 print, Cleveland, Ohio, From Brooklyn Hill Looking East.

Whelpley detail
Detail, Cleveland, Ohio, From Brooklyn Hill Looking East. A hand-colored etching (1834) by Thomas Whelpley. Engraved by Milo Osborne. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

This detail, taken from the left side of the print, illustrates the location more clearly. Eastman's vantage point is indicated by the red arrow. Note the row of fenceposts, illustrated in the painting, to the left of the arrow. The yellow arrow indicates the location of the Cleveland lighthouse.

Harbor Light
Detail, Lake Erie, From Cleveland. A watercolor painting (July, 1833) by Seth Eastman. Used courtesy of Sloans and Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers, Bethesda, Maryland.

It's worth noting the presence of the harbor light, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. This structure was likely completed a year or two earlier.

[Cleveland harbor]
[Cleveland harbor] A print (1837) by Charles Whittlesey. Published in the Annual report on the geological survey of the State of Ohio (1837). Used courtesy of Ohio State University and the Internet Archive.

The pier upon which the harbor light was built is illustrated, top and center, in this drawing - letter "F". There's a square, on the right (east) side of the river that provided the foundation for the structure.

Cleveland Lighthouse on the Lake Erie
Cleveland Lighthouse on the Lake Erie. A hand-colored engraving (1839) by Pierre Eugène I. Aubert, after a drawing by Karl Bodmer. Published in Reise in das innere Nord-America in den Jahren 1832 bis 1834 (1839) by Maximilian Wied. Used courtesy of the Beinecke Library, Yale University.

I've often heard suggested that this 1839 print, based on preliminary drawings and/or paintings made in 1834, doesn't actually portray the Cleveland lighthouse. What then, I ask, does it portray? The response tends to be a mumble that it's probably somewhere else.

It's been pointed out that the structure in the print doesn't look like the Cleveland lighthouse, nor is it located up on the hill like the Cleveland lighthouse was - see the point noted by the yellow arrow above.

Seth Eastman's painting, combined with Charles Whittlesey's map of the harbor seem to indicate that Karl Bodmer's print, Cleveland Lighthouse on the Lake Erie, does, in fact, depict a Cleveland scene. It's just that the structure being illustrated isn't the lighthouse but rather, the harbor light. Perhaps this was a translation issue.

Bodmer's vantage point appears to have been from the west bank of the Cuyahoga. It's worth noting that the physical relationship between the ship and the harbor light appears to be about the same in Seth Eastman's painting and Karl Bodmer's print. What does this mean? I do not know.

View of Inscription Rock on South side of Cunningham Island, Lake Erie
View of Inscription Rock on South side of Cunningham Island, Lake Erie. A print (1852) The print is based on a drawing by Seth Eastman created in 1850.
C. E. Wagstaff & J. Andrews (Engraver) Published in Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States; collected and prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847, Volume 2 (1852) by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Image used courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

Seth Eastman is best known for the work he did portraying Native Americans - the greatest bulk of which appeared in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's Historical and Statistical Information, Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, published in the 1850s. This view of Kelley's Island is one such image.

Sculptured Inscriptions on Rock, South Side Of Cunningham's Island, Lake Erie
Sculptured Inscriptions on Rock, South Side Of Cunningham's Island, Lake Erie. A pen and ink drawing (October 10, 1850) by Seth Eastman. Reproduced from Seth Eastman: A Portfolio of North American Indians (1995) by Sarah E. Boehme, Christian F. Feest, and Patricia Condon Johnston.

His record of Inscripion Rock on Kelley's Island, the original drawing for which is shown here, remains the best document that we have of this important, but now rather eroded, pictograph group.

Inscription Rock, North Side of Cunningham's Is., Lake Erie
Inscription Rock, North Side of Cunningham's Is., Lake Erie. A print (1852) by Seth Eastman, from a sketch made October 12, 1850. Published in Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States; collected and prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847, Volume 2 (1852) by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Used courtesy of Cornell University Library and the Internet Archive.

Another boulder, now lost, inscribed with pictographs was present on the north shore of Kelley's Island, near the present state park campground.

Eastman's documentation of the island also included two earthworks.

Cleveland, Ohio Grocery Store
Cleveland, Ohio Grocery Store [John Smith Grocer]. A drawing (October 9, 1850) by Seth Eastman. Used courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In the course of his travels, Seth Eastman made drawings of the cities he passed through, along with other items not relating to the subject of his research. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has drawings by Eastman of Fairport Harbor and Sandusky, in addition to this one, of a grocer on the Cuyahoga River, in Cleveland.

After the initial discovery of this painting wore off, I started to suspect that the watercolor painting, Lake Erie, From Cleveland, might have been made in the 1850s, based partially on his observations in the 1830s. I couldn't locate any works this early by Seth Eastman, and the combination of factors in this painting - the portrayal of the landscape and the presence of Native Americans, among others - just seemed too good to be true.

So I did more research. I found that the layout of the harbor is consistent with Cleveland in 1833. The number and nature of buildings corresponds reasonably with Whelpley's print of a year later. And the improvements made in the 1840s are not present. Further, the technique of the painting is not as refined as Eastman's later works.

I'm confident, now, that Lake Erie, From Cleveland depicts Cleveland in July of 1833. It provides a rare glimpse into the landscape of this region as it used to be.

This watercolor is to be auctioned at Sloans and Kenyon this Sunday. Their estimate is $80,000-$150,000 - meaning that the bidding will likely start at $40,000.

* The Seth Pease 1796 map of Cleveland (see a drawing based upon said map) features a tent with a couple men situated by the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. However, this appears, to my eyes, to be merely added as a visual device, rather than an attempt to illustrate the location. For that reason, I don't count it as a painting of the city.

Correction: Janice B. Patterson, author of Cleveland's Lighthouses, pointed out to me that where I said "breakwater", I meant "pier". I corrected the two instances of this term. She noted that "There were no breakwaters in the 1830s -- they were built in the 1870s. I think what you are calling a breakwater was actually just a wooden pier, built on pilings and possibly reinforced with stones."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

From Early House to Milk House

I’ve been working on editing a history of the Parks family, who came to the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland in 1834. It’s a wonderful manuscript - full of all sorts of personal details and anecdotes that you simply don’t find in most family histories.

View Parks property in a larger map

The Parks family farm, purchased in 1834, is indicated in this map in blue. It is bounded on the east by East 140th Street, on the south by Kuhlman Avenue, on the west by a diagonal that continues from the end of Eaglesmere to the lake shore, and on the north by Lake Erie. The farm, all told, was about 200 acres.

There’s a passage in the manuscript that really caught my attention.
They found later that the previous owner, a Colonel [John] Gardner and his family had nearly died there of chills and fever. Grandfather held the view, then common, that the disease was caused by a miasma that rose from the water and earth after nightfall and for many years the children were carefully herded into the house as it grew dusk. Anyhow, none of the family ever had a touch of it.
Perhaps that was because Grandfather's first act was to dog a big ditch right through the farm to the Lake; next he built a new house. The little old one was always used for a milk house.
The milk house is noted by the jug of milk in the map above - right next to the site of the 1834 house.

I was a bit skeptical as to Gardner’s involvement with the property. I hadn’t heard accounts of property being rented - but research shows that it was not uncommon. In fact, evidence points to some very good reasons why John Gardner might have built the small, likely one-room house for his family on this piece of property rented from Henry Coit.

Achsa Sherwin was born December 28, 1789, in Winchenden, Massachusetts, the fifth of Ahimaz and Hannah Swan Sherwin’s ten children. She married John Gardner (born about 1789) on October 30, 1808, in Hartland, Vermont.

A decade after her marriage, Achsa’s parents moved to Cleveland. The account is described in Wickham’s Pioneer Families of Cleveland (p. 200-201).
On the morning of a bitter winter day in February, 1818, a large sleigh drawn by two farm horses moved briskly in a south-western direction from Middlebury, Vermont, a town but a few miles east of the New York state line, and about half-way between lakes Champlain and George.
The seat of this sleigh was occupied by Ahimaz Sherwin, Jr., 26 years of age, his young wife Hannah Swan Sherwin, and their little daughter Lucy but a few months old. The back of the sleigh was piled high with household furniture, bedding, and clothing. The family had started in mid-winter on a ride of 500 miles, at least half of which led through a trackless wilderness. But, aside from the weather, traveling at this time of year was far easier than through the summer months. A sleigh moved over the snow more smoothly and with less jolting than a wagon, also over ice-bound lakes and rivers that otherwise would have to be forded or avoided. The sleighing was excellent all the way, but the weather very severe; the thermometer for ten days of the trip was below zero. Their food and shelter for the night was ever uncertain, and a source of anxiety, for it depended upon little country taverns, or upon the hospitality of isolated farm-houses. It is ever a mystery to the woman of today how a mother managed to care for a babe and keep it warm on such a long, cold journey. The case of little Lucy Sherwin was not exceptional. Hundreds of very young children accompanied their parents to the wilds of Ohio when the journey was undertaken in the winter or early spring with the frost yet in the air, and snow still covering the ground. Furthermore, instances have been given where the pioneer party waited for an expected addition of a little stranger in a family, and then started on a trip two weeks after its arrival.
The Sherwins made the distance between Buffalo and Dunkirk on the frozen shores of Lake Erie, and, early in the evening of one day, their sleigh broke through the ice, thoroughly drenching its occupants. With their clothes frozen upon them, they had to continue their journey until a place was reached in which they could spend the night. The deep-seated cold that resulted from this mishap eventually undermined the constitution of the intrepid wife and mother, and although she lived several years after reaching Cleveland she never was again well, and died leaving three young children.
The journey ended March 1st - 18 days from the time it was started. No accommodation for them and their horses could be secured in the small village of Cleveland, and they had to turn around again and go back as far as Job Doan's tavern at Doan's Corners.
Luckily for Mr. Sherwin, Richard Blinn had begun to build a new house on his farm south of Doan's Corners, and on the road to Newburgh. He hired Mr. Sherwin to do the carpenter work on it, the Sherwins, meanwhile, living with the Blinn family. By the last of August, the house was finished, and the wages due Mr. Sherwin enabled him to return to Vermont and bring on his parents to share his pioneer home.
Within a year or two, Achsa and John Gardner followed them west. (One of their children, Nelson Harvey Gardner, was born October 21, 1816, in Hartland, Vermont, fixing their residence in that place. By the time of the 1820 US Census, they were living in Cleveland.)

Gardner didn’t own any real estate in Cleveland until 1828, indicating that he either rented or lived with family or friends prior to that date, when he made a purchase on Seneca Street in downtown Cleveland (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 182812270001). He did not occupy the property immediately, as his family is still listed in Euclid Township in the 1830 US Census.

The Gardner family lived in this location while John Gardner operated a store on the east corner of Euclid Avenue and Noble Road.

Historic advertisements, included in Annals of Cleveland help illuminate the nature of the store and the sorts of things one would be able to buy in a village like this in the 1820s. They also help to show what sorts of things the residents of this area needed (or wanted).
June 4, 1824; adv:3/4 - John Gardner, has just opened a store in the town of Euclid, in the building formerly occupied as a store by E. Murray, Esq., deceased, consisting of a small but well assorted collection of Dry Goods, Groceries, and Hardware, which he will sell at reduced prices, for cash or approved country Produce.
Sept. 10, 1824; adv: 5/4 - Euclid Store. The subscriber has just received from two miles beyond the Eastward, a small but handsome assortment of Dry Goods, consisting of almost every article used in families, together with a good assortment of Groceries, of the first rate, and warranted. Also Codfish, Mackina Trout, of superior quality, Iron, Steel, Nails, Window Glass, 8 by 10 and 7 by 9, Soal and Upper Leather, Morocco Skins, With a variety of other articles, too numerous to mention - which will be exchanged for most kinds of Produce. Ashes will be taken in payment, if delivered at the ashery formerly occupied by Seth Doan, Esq. J. Gardner.
Dec. 9, 1825 ; adv: 3/5 - Euclid Store. J. Gardner. Has just received, and keeps constantly on hand, a general assortment of New Goods, consisting of Broadcloths, Cassimeres, Satinetts, Bombazetts, Calicoes, Chintzes, Cambrics, Plain and Figured Linos, Boot Muslins, Silk, Crapes, Velvets, Cotton and Worsted Vestings, Ratinetts, Salisbury & Plain Flannels, Silk and Cotton Flag Handkerchiefs, Tartan and Caroline Plaids, Cotton Ginghams and Checks, Cotton cloths, Cotton Yarn and Candlewicking, Men's coarse Boots and Shoes, School Books of all sort, New York Hats, Groceries, Crockery, Glass & Hardware, Iron. English Blister'd & Cast Steel, Drugs and Medicine, Paints and Dye·Stuffs, and other articles too numerous to mention. All the above articles are warranted to be of the first quality. He also pledges himself to sell as cheap as can be purchased in the country. Gentlemen and Ladies are requested to call and examine for themselves. Most kinds of Produce taken in payment. N. B. He also wishes to purchase a quantity of Black Salts, for part cash will be paid. Likewise, a quantity of dried Deerskins.
First Presbyterian Church
From Spiritual Pioneers; The Life & Times of First Presbyterian Church of East Cleveland, Ohio by Melinda Ule-Grohol, page 194.
Nov. 5, 1829; adv: 3/5 - For Rent. The subscriber offers for rent his Store and Store House in Euclid Township, a few rods west of the Presbyterian meeting house; he has built an addition to his Store, which makes it very large and convenient for a country Store. It is situated in a pleasant country for mercantile business which he will rent very reasonable; apply to the subscriber on the premises. John Gardner, Euclid.
It’s unclear when Gardner’s store closed. The establishment reopened in 1830.
Nov. 11, 1830; adv:3/3 - Euclid New Store. New Goods at the lowest Cleaveland prices. H. Foote & Co. Have just opened a new store at the stand known as the Gardner store in the Town of Euclid where they have for sale a first rate assortment of Dry Goods, Groceries, Hardware, and Crockery.
Within a couple years, Gardner opened a similar business in Cleveland.

Gardner, Achsa

Achsa Sherwin Gardner died in 1847, and was buried in East Cleveland Township Cemetery.

All six members of the Gardner family lived in what was likely a one-room house - on later maps, it shows up as less than half the size of the house with two rooms on each floor built by Sheldon Parks. From these cramped quarters, John Gardner travelled two and half miles each day to his store.

This is telling of the conditions endured by the early settlers to the region. It also illustrates that a path between the location on Euclid Avenue and the Parks farm was present at the time that they moved here, in 1834, providing a connection between their farm and the village.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Thorp - Page Sawmill

Detail, East Cleveland Township
A detail from the 1858 Hopkins Map of Cuyahoga County. Used courtesy of Rails and Trails, original courtesy of the Bedford Historical Society. Annotations by the author.
In 1837, two farmers, both residents of Cleveland, purchased a small, oddly shaped parcel of land (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 183904200003). The $250 purchase netted them 8.27 acres, with Coit Road on one side, and Nine Mile Creek running down the middle of it. The property, outlined here in green, was about a quarter mile south of St. Clair Avenue.

The Luster Tannery
You may recall Nine Mile Creek as the source of water for the Luster Tannery (16360 Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland), about a mile upstream. The structure, built for tanning leather in the 1850s, is a major early industrial landmark. The Luster property is outlined in light blue

The two men who purchased the land, Cornelius Thorp and Isaac Page, both lived in the area. Cornelius, at the time, was 30 years old, and was married, with three or four children. Isaac was a few years older, also married and the father of at least a couple children.

Both had farms of a decent size - Isaac Page's amounted to 62 acres, while Cornelius Thorp's farm was about 40 acres.

Why, then, did they purchase the land?

Detail, 1903 USGS Topographic Map
This detail of a 1903 USGS topographical map, covering about the same area as the one used to open this story, helps illustrate why. Note that Nine Mile Creek seems to enter a ravine at about the point where the sawmill is located (to the left of the "k" in "Creek"). Perhaps there was even a falls. Whatever the case, there would probably have been significant water power at the site.

Water power was very important in the early to mid 19th cenutry - other than steam engines and manual labor, it was the only way one could power anything. Even on a tiny creek, a small dam could store up enough water to power a mill for a couple hours a day.

To take advantage of the water power, a sawmill was built on the site, as illustrated in the 1858 map that I lead with. When was it built? I haven't been able to locate any information relating to that. One might suspect that construction began soon after the purchase, unless they bought the land speculatively.

Thorp and Page probably operated the mill part-time - the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Censuses list their occupations as "farmer". It was quite common at the time to do other work to supplement farm income, so this does not seem strange. However, as of 1860, Isaac's son, Isaac Morris (or Maurice) Page lists his occupation as "sawmill" - perhaps running the business full time. A decade later, however, he is listed again as a farmer.

There is only one other sawmill pictured in East Cleveland township on the 1858 Hopkins map - a steam driven one on Shaw Brook, operated by Henry Coit, shown in the far left of the detail above. This suggests relatively little competition in the immediate area.

The grave of Isaac Page (the father) is marked by this obelisk, in East Cleveland Township Cemetery.

A small obelisk, mostly buried, marks the Thorp family plot at First Presbyterian Churchyard, in East Cleveland.

Thorp, Mary
The only name visible is that of Cornelius's daughter, Mary. It'll be worth digging up the fallen obelisk and replacing it on its mount, to see if the names of other family members are noted.

These weren't the only mills in the immediate area - there were more in Euclid, as detailed in Mills & Salt, on Bluestone Heights. Still, this example represents an interesting piece of our early industrial history.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guest Post: The Isaac Warren House, Part 2

by Judy MacKeigan

[Note: see the first part of the story of this significant early Lakewood house in The Isaac Warren House.]

As the “official” family historian I have been given boxes of family papers, photos, and ephemera. Among these items is a black photo album, typical of the early 20th century, containing wonderful photos of my husband’s grandmother, Emma Blanck MacKeigan, her parents, Charles Blanck and Anna Meister Blanck, and assorted friends and family.

Several photos show the family both outside and inside their Rockport Township (later Lakewood) home. I had been trying to find this house by using census records and deeds, but the address that I had was somewhat puzzling. In 1910 the Blancks were listed in the Federal Census at what appears to be 2270 Alger Rd. Although the house number is blurred and difficult to read, the street name is clear. I have spent time driving up and down Alger, hoping to find the address, but to no avail. Thinking that the address may have changed I kept my eyes open for the house, but still no luck. I began to think that the section of Alger that the house stood on had been obliterated by I-90.

Last week I decided to take a closer look at the neighborhood via the wonderful maps on the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery. On the G. M. Hopkins Cuyahoga County plat map of 1914 I found a brick house on the corner of Fisher (now Lakewood Hts. Blvd.) and what was marked as Warren Rd. That section of Warren, however, shows up as Alger on other maps, so I was sure it was the correct house.

I knew I had found the family home because of another clue found on that 1914 map. The owner of the land that the house stood on was listed as H. Johnson. According to a 1917 deed a woman named Henrietta Johnson had left land to Anna Blanck. I had puzzled for years as to who this woman was, how she fit into the family and why bequeathed this land to Anna. The 1910 census lists Charles Blanck as head of household who rented the house, but Henrietta was listed as a boarder. In reality, of course, she was the owner of the house where the Blancks lived as renters.
Enter Christopher Busta-Peck’s wonderful Cleveland Area History blog. After finding the 1914 map I put the words Johnson + Fisher Rd. in a search engine. One of the hits was the Isaac Warren House post made by Christoper in July of 2010. Clicking on the link I was amazed to find the same house that is pictured in our photo album prominently featured.

As I read through the post this paragraph jumped out at me: “The only daughter of Rebecca, who for many years was regarded as mentally unbalanced due to a siege of scarlet fever, fell heir to all the Warren acreage. She was finally judged sane and left her estate to the Warren family, after giving a large slice to a German housekeeper who had cared for her in her last days.” I realized that the “German housekeeper” was my husband’s great grandmother, Anna Blanck.

I still don’t know how the Blancks came to live in the house and take care of Henrietta. They owned land a little bit east of the Johnson land, and Charles Blanck was a chemist/pharmacist by trade. They had a fairly well to do middle-class lifestyle and I’m not sure Anna would have termed herself a “German housekeeper.”

I also can’t shed any light on the mystery of when or how the house disappeared. My father-in-law passed away several years ago, his mother, Emma, died in 1977, just three years after my wedding. And I would not have thought to ask her about the house anyway at that time of my life! The land left to the Blanck family by Henrietta was behind the old Warren house. They built a home on the land facing Lakewood Hts. Blvd. Anna then sold the land and house to her daughter Emma and her husband, Angus Stewart MacKeigan. My father in law was born and raised in that “new” house, and it still stands there today. But, of course, it does not hold the significance that the old Isaac Warren home had. I am hoping the “moved house” theory is correct and someone locates the lost house that holds so much history for both my family personally, as well as the greater community.

Emma Blanck and unknown friend, circa 1915
Emma Blanck and unknown friend outside the Warren House, circa 1915.

Anna Meister Blanck
Anna Meister Blanck, in the dining room of the Warren house.

Emma Blanck
Emma Blanck, in the dining room of the Warren house.

Charles and Anna Blanck, Henrietta Johnson (presumably)
Charles and Anna Blanck and Henrietta Johnson (presumably).

I want to thank Judy MacKeigan for sharing these family photographs, and for providing us more insight into this part of our history. If you have photographs or other materials that might provide further insight into the stories covered here, please contact

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Church and the Landscape - The Congregational Church at Claridon

1381 - Congregational Church, built 1831
Photograph by I.T. Frary. 1922. Scanned from a photocopy of an original in the I.T. Frary Audiovisual Collection at the Ohio Historical Society.

On Wednesday, I illustrated how the changes in landscape around St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Church affected the perception of the structure, from something monumental to something more ordinary. Today, I hope to illustrate how more subtle changes affect the perception of a historic structure.

The Congregational Church at Claridon was built in 1831, at the intersection of Mayfield Road (US 322) and Claridon-Troy Road, in Geauga County. (If you took Mayfield Road east from Interstate 271 and continued east for 16 miles, you'd end up there.)

The church is an especially good example of the type built in this area during the time specified.

As you look at these photographs, try to notice how the church has been changed over time.

Church at Claridon
Photograph by I.T. Frary, in the collections of the Ohio Historical Society. From the Cleveland Artists Foundation exhibition Designing History: I.T. Frary; Interior Design and the Beginnings of Historic Preservation in Ohio.

This photograph, circa 1929, was used by Frary in his landmark work, Early Homes of Ohio, which remains the best work on Ohio's architectural heritage as a whole.

First Congregational Church of Claridon

Finally, we have a photograph that I took, back in March of this year.

The most obvious change is that the windows are no longer arched, but now have rounded tops. But there's another significant change. Look at the stairs leading to the church.

In 1922, there are just two front stairs. By circa 1929, there are three. And today, there are four.

Note how much the church feels like it's part of the landscape in 1922. Something's lost in the addition of stairs - to my eyes, it feels more separated from the landscape. Perhaps that was the intention.

As in Tremont, these changes, large and small, make a difference.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Does Your Basement Look Like This? I want to know!

or: Identifying the Region's Oldest Houses.

Photo by Laura Howard

On numerous occasions, I've been asked to help figure out how old this or that house is. More often than not, these questions come from the residents themselves. While it is possible to learn quite a bit from historical records, this can require specialized knowledge and still leave one with only a range of dates.

Homeowners (and other residents) are in a unique position to help date a structure - they have full access to the house, and can learn everything that the structure might tell them.

5856 Pearl Road
Photo by Laura Howard

Today, I will illustrate what we can learn from the physical evidence present at 5856 Pearl Road, in Parma Heights, Ohio. This historic home was photographed by Laura Howard, about a year and a half ago, and she was kind enough to share the photographs with me.

South wing
Photo by Laura Howard

The oldest part of the house, the southwest wing, is said to have been built by Oliver Emerson in 1831.

The exterior has been heavily modified. Other than the basic proportions, little original detail remains to be seen here. The original wood siding has been covered by asbestos shingles, and the window openings have likely been moved. Dormers have been added to the center wing of the house. The location of the center window on the second floor is likely original, but beyond that, I can't be sure of much without further physical investigation.

Foundation, south wing
Photo by Laura Howard

The one spot where the wood siding is exposed, alas, does not provide much detail for us to work with. Likewise the foundation, which appears to be made of material consistent with the suggested date, is sufficiently concealed that we can't learn much. There isn't a basement under this portion of the house, which is consistent with an earlier construction date.

Wood paneling, south wing
Photo by Laura Howard

Inside this part of the house, the north wall includes this wood paneling.

Front hall

It is consistent with the paneling installed in the front hall of the Dunham Tavern. It's unclear whether this was installed at the time of construction or later. This could be determined by the careful removal of said paneling - if there is evidence of plaster underneath, it would indicate that the wood was added later.

The wide, thick floors, without use of subflooring would also tend to be indicative of an earlier date of construction.

The house retains a central fireplace. Unfortunately, it appears to have been modified so extensively that I can't tell much about it. I suspect that underneath the current brick may be the original fireplace. If this is, in fact, the case, this would tend toward indicating an early construction date, as with time and wood stoves, the trend was toward fireplaces on the ends of the structure.

Basement door, between south and center wing Doorway between south and center wings
Photos by Laura Howard

The wall between the south and center parts of the house has been covered with drywall, concealing or eliminating much of the structural evidence. The door on the left, to the basement, is consistent in style with something built in the middle third of the 19th century, but beyond that, it's hard to be sure. It could be later, too.

If we look at the doorframe on the left, we can see, on the right side, the horizontal white lines where the plaster spread through the lath. At the bottom, there is an area that is free of such markings, suggesting that wood paneling may have been present originally.

Photos by Laura Howard

The center part of the house reveals more detail. In this photo of the basement, as well as in the lead photo, we can see hand-hewn timbers, indicative of a very early construction date. Cutting lumber was incredibly labor-intensive, and sawmills were set up anywhere that there was sufficient water to operate them. As a result, hand-hewn timbers are indicative of some of the earliest houses in the region. Further, as this part of the structure is one of the most difficult elements to change, this can help us date a house even when much of the original detail is missing.

One might also note that the subflooring (or possibly flooring) appears smooth in this image, suggesting that it was either replaced, or that the hand-hewn timbers we see here were reused from another structure. Note also the various shapes the timbers were hewn into.

Corner cupboard, center wing
Photo by Laura Howard

On the first floor of the main wing, at one of the front corners is this corner cupboard, probably added circa 1910-1930. Behind it, we can see a structural timber, which would not have been common in a later structure.

Photo by Laura Howard

The stairs to the second floor reveal more structural details. We can see the outlines of the structural timbers that make up the top of the wall and the corner. We can also see a line on the wall, above the stairs, at a steeper angle than the stairs currently have. I found this rather suspect.

Wall and stringer, center wing
Photo by Laura Howard

This photograph, of the wall opposite the right side of the stairs, helps reveal what we see here. The steeper diagonal lines are the original stringers - the structural boards that make up the sides of the stairs. Why they were left in when the staircase was rebuilt at a more comfortable angle is unclear. This photo provides a closer detail of the structure.

Detail of paneling, center wing
Photo by Laura Howard

This view, at the bottom of the stairs, on the same wall, suggests that there was wood paneling, similar to what is visible in the older part of the house, that may have been concealed by drywall or plaster.

Detail, top of stairs
Photo by Laura Howard

Here, at the top of the stairs, we can see with more detail the massive timbers that make up the frame of the house.

There are many more details that I've omitted simply because I lack the information or detail to make full sense of them.

How old is this house? It's hard to say. It's believable that some part of the physical fabric dates to 1831, but how much is unclear. There's still a lot of research to be done in the history of buildings in this area.

If you have a house with structural hand-hewn timbers, please let me know. I'd be interested in better documenting and understanding the construction methods. It would help increase our knowledge of the early history of northeast Ohio.