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!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Farmhouse in the City

Greek Revival farmhouse

This house, at 1209 East 71st Street - just north of Superior - has been on my radar for a long time. In fact, it was the subject of one of my very first stories here.

Try to imagine the house as it was at the time it was built, 160 years ago. Remove the porch. The house would have sat on a rise, a couple of steps leading up to the front door. The windows on the front of the house, on the first floor, had a somewhat ornate trim, as did the front door. The windows, two over two, would have been flanked by shutters, perhaps in dark green, in contrast to the white of the house.

Clemen N. Jagger residence

The color scheme might have been something along the lines of the Clemen N. Jagger residence, now at Hale Farm and Village. The first floor windows on the front might have had panels underneath, like this structure, or they might have been triple-hung - what I do know is that the original window trim extended downward to a line even with the bottom of the doorframe.

It was a simple structure, but with good proportions, on a relatively small (ten acre) lot.

Greek Revival house - foundation detail

On the exterior, the house has plenty to tell us. The foundation, now covered with a layer of paint, bears the tool marks of the people who quarried and cut it.

Hand-hewn timbers

While most of the framing for the house was cut in a sawmill, the largest timbers were hewn by hand. One can be seen here, underneath a bit of trim.

Siding detail, W. Lewis residence

A closer look at the front of the house illustrates the flush siding - an uncommon detail. One can also see, in the paint, the outline of the trim that originally flanked the windows - a helpful piece of information for the party that chooses to fix up this house.

This house plays a signficant role in illustrating the way this neighborhood changed and grew over time.

William Lewis was born on 3 April 1809, in Westport St. Mary, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England. His wife, Mary Anne Ponting Lewis, was born 1814, also in England. In 1847, they immigrated to the United States with their four children: Thomas (born 1838); George (born 1840); Jane (born about 1842); and Edward (born about 1845). By 1850, they were farming in East Cleveland, Ohio. (Sources: Find a Grave records for William Lewis and Mary Anne Ponting Lewis, 1850 and 1860 US Census).

1209 East 71st street Google Maps

In September, 1852, they purchased, for $500, a ten acre parcel facing Becker Avenue - now East 71st Street. (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 185312190004 ) The parcel extended eastward to what is now East 79th Street. The original property is shown in blue on this map - the location of the house, in green.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10 October 1897, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

The seller was one Edward Lewis, also from Wiltshire, England. He had risen to prominence within the iron and steel industry by the time this portrait was made, in 1897. His relationship, if any, with William Lewis is unclear.

At the price, it's plausible that the house had just been built - especially if Edward Lewis was a relative and was giving William a good deal. If not, the house was built soon after.

The 1860 US Census lists two more children: William (born about 1848) (henceforth William, Jr.) and Benjamin (born about 1851). It's unclear why William, Jr. wasn't numerated in the 1850 census.

William Lewis died July 30, 1854, at the age of 45. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery. I have not been able to locate any documentation as to the cause of death. (Find a Grave William Lewis.)

View of the Ohio State Fair Grounds, 1856
View of the Ohio State Fair Grounds, 1856. A hand-colored print (1856) by Klauprech & Menzel. Used courtesy of the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps.

The family would have likely attended the 1856 Ohio State Fair, held just a mile and a quarter to the east.

By 1858, there were neighbors on either side, both occupying similarly sized (and shaped) lots. The family remained at this house, and by 1860, the value of the property was listed as $4,000.

Used courtesy of the National Archives,, and Cleveland Public Library.

Thomas Lewis and George Lewis both registered for the draft in 1863. Their occupation is listed as "gardener". How this is different from "farmer", which appears far more frequently, is unclear.

Mary Lewis died 11 December 1863. She was buried alongside her husband at Woodland Cemetery. (Find a Grave: Mary Anne Ponting Lewis)

George Lewis and Jane Lewis transferred their shares in the property to Thomas Lewis, in 1863. (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 186302250002)

Thomas Lewis married Amelia Gibbs. They raised several children in the house: Celia Jane Lewis (born 23 October 1865); Frank J. Lewis (born 1866); William E. Lewis (born July, 1870); Thomas E. Lewis (born 9 July 1873); Charles A. Lewis (born January, 1878); and Sarah E. Lewis (born December, 1879). Arthur Lewis, born November 1875, died the following month, from whooping cough.

By 1874, the area was becoming more developed. The Lewis children would have attended a brick schoolhouse, built at the corner of what is now Carl Avenue and Addison Road, a walk of abuot a fifth of a mile.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

The larger farm lots were beginning to be split up to build residences. Some were massive, grand structures, like this house, at 6512 Superior, which I've written about in detail. (See: The best frame Italianate house I've seen in Cleveland and Threatened: The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side)

Italianate house on Superior

On the opposite side of the street, the Beckenback residence has a similarly interesting story. Like the house facing it, it retains significant interior detail.

The biggest change to the immediate surroundings came in the form of the Lakeview, Collamer, and Euclid Railway, which ended just a couple hundred feet up Becker Avenue (now East 71st Street).

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 23 June 1876, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8 May 1880, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

449 Camp Gilbert
Residence and Grounds of George Gilbert, Esquire, Euclid Station, Ohio. From the 1874 Lake Atlas of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Passengers might have used the railway to visit Camp Gilbert, at the mouth of Euclid Creek.

The following clipping, in addition to illustrating storm damage (front page news!) provides us with a vital bit of history - this house did, in fact, have shutters.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 December 1876, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10 February 1877, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

This quantity - an unknown portion of the Lewis flock - strongly suggests that at least part of their income came from selling either eggs or chickens.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 13 April 1880, page 5. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

This purchase suggests that the railway was busy.

A beer garden was built at the railway terminal - next door to the Lewis house. As this 1885 article suggests, it caused some problems.

There's nothing useful that I can say about the following articles.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 13 July 1885, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 14 July 1885, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 14 July 1885, page 3. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1 October 1885, page 3. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

In 1885, Celia Lewis married John Moser in a ceremony at the Lewis family home. John Moser moved in to the house, where they had two children: Grace M. Moser (born 1886) and John Lewis Moser (born 1887).

The Lewis / Moser family remained in the house through the end of the 19th century. The ten acre lot was gradually split into smaller and smaller peices, as this became a residential neighborhood. In 1900, Amelia Lewis sold the house to Eliza and William Lehmann. (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 190003230029)

In the next article, we'll see how this house (and the neighborhood) changed during the course of the 20th century.

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, April 3, 2013

The Strange Disappearing Houses of the Lomond Neighborhood, in Shaker Heights, Ohio

My colleague, Korbi Roberts, put together this video, The Strange Disappearing Houses of the Lomond Neighborhood, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It illustrates that the issues concerning the demolition of homes in historic neighborhoods are not limited to the inner city.

Rather than reading my continued ramblings (I could go on and on, you know) please take a look at the video.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cincinnati's Kilgour house and Mount Adams - This Time in Winter!

Ohio River Landscape / The Steamboat Washington
Ohio River Landscape / The Steamboat Washington. An oil painting (circa 1820). Used courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Schwartz, Paterson, NJ. Reproduced from Folk Painters of America (1979) by Robert Bishop.

As part of my research, I've been reading Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographyical Dictionary, (2000) edited by Mary Sayre Haverstock, Jeannette Mahoney Vance, and Brian L. Meggitt. This 1066 page tome includes perhaps 10,000 artists active in Ohio in or before 1900. I've been reading it, seeking out all of the artists active in or before 1865.

Two weeks ago, I identified the painting shown here as a Cincinnati scene. At center is the Kilgour house, built about 1820. To the right, the city's first water works. At the left, Deer Creek empties into the Ohio River.

The Forest Queen in Winter
The Forest Queen in Winter. A painting (1857) by Martin Andreas Reisner. Used courtesy of Richard and Jane Manoogian. Image used courtesy of The Athenaeum.

This morning, while reading Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900, I came across a citation for this 1857 painting, The Forest Queen in Winter by Martin Andreas Reisner. The authors noted that, in 1857, Reisner "visited Cincinnati (Hamilton), a portrino of whose riverfont features prominently in The Forest Queen in Winter (Manoogian Collection)."

To my surprise, I was able to locate a high quality image of the painting. It appears to be based, in part, on the same landscape! Mount Adams is present in the background. The Kilgour house is present, just to the right of center. The Little Miami Railroad runs along the river.

Detail, Cincinnati Panorama
Detail, Cincinnati Panorama. A daguerreotype (1848) by Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter. Used courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

When compared with this photograph, made nine years earlier, it's obvious that Martin Andreas Reisner took considerable liberties. The commercial buildings are all gone - either he envisioned the landscape without them, or, perhaps, he was working based on an earlier view of the area. On the other hand, he retains what appears to be a bit of commercial activity based around the (considerably smaller) Deer Creek. Yet if we are to see this as something based on an earlier work, why the inclusion of the railroad?

This view clearly involves a bit of imagination and artistic license. This doesn't diminish its value as a look at Cincinnati in the 1850s. Further, given the rarity of winter views, it seems perfect for a day like today.

What do you see in it?