Here Comes Santa Claus

"A Joyous Christmas." Undated holiday card. From the website CardCow.com.

“A Joyous Christmas.” Undated holiday card. From the website CardCow.

I have nearly finished my issue-by-issue indexing of all the extant nineteenth-century editions of The Wellington Enterprise. This morning I ran across this charming little notice, nestled in amongst the regular community news items:

“Santa Claus has sent his reindeers into the country to be looked after, this winter, and will use a bicycle, this time, to deliver his presents. This indicates that even Santa is willing to adopt the improvements made” (12-5-1894, pg. 5).

Happy holidays, dear readers! I am presently working on a list of topics to research and write about in the new year. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Just click on, “Leave a reply,” at the top of any post. Looking forward to hearing from you all!

Memento Mori

Memorial card. "IN MEMORY OF Mrs. A. W. Scranton, Who died at her home in Wellington, Ohio, Tuesday, the 15th day of December, 1885, AGED 50 YEARS." Author's collection.

Memorial card. “IN MEMORY OF Mrs. A. W. Scranton, Who died at her home in Wellington, Ohio, Tuesday, the 15th day of December, 1885, AGED 50 YEARS.” Author’s collection.

I love the idea of every object being the gateway to a story. At first glance, this small card is unassuming in every way. It is small, just three by five inches. The paper is not very sturdy, the edges having darkened and creased with age. The verso is blank. The black borders convey, perhaps even before one’s eyes reach the text, that this is a memorial card, a remembrance distributed to friends and family members after the passing of a loved one. This ephemeral article is a tangible reminder of a Wellington woman who died nearly thirteen decades ago.

Who was she? The card tells us only that she was the wife of a man called A. W. Scranton. I have found her recorded as Terissia (1880 federal census); Teressee (marriage record); Terressee (family genealogy); Terisa (obituary); and Terissa (nearly illegible headstone). I believe if she were alive today, she would most likely sign her given name, “Theresa.”

She must have been born in 1835, since she died at aged 50. The federal census of 1880 listed her age at the time as 45, and her place of birth as New York. Abel W. Scranton must have been at least her second husband, and the census household enumeration included a nineteen-year-old girl called Jennie Gardner, named as Abel’s stepdaughter. Jennie would have been born around 1861, when her mother was twenty-six. If Terissa Gardner Scranton had other husbands or other children, their names have not yet come down to us.

Terissa had married Abel in Lucas, Ohio on November 16, 1873. According to corporation tax records and a few newspaper notices, the Scrantons lived on a farm about a mile north of Wellington, on the west side of the main road to Oberlin, today called State Route 58. Two months after Terissa died, Abel held a public sale of “one mare, one pony, one Jersey Heifer, two wagons, double carriage, phaeton, double harness, Norwalk tanning mill, corn sheller, reaper and mower and other articles too numerous to mention” (The Wellington Enterprise, 2-17-1886, pg. 4). A few weeks later, he sold his farm to S. K. Laundon and moved to a property on Magyar Street formerly occupied by Caroline Wales Woodworth, longtime owner of the American House hotel.

I have been able to discover very little else about Terissa’s life. An unpublished Scranton family genealogy records that Abel had three wives and a child out of wedlock by a fourth woman (perhaps a contributing factor to his first marriage ending in divorce in 1866). His third wife was a widow named Eliza Kester from Chicago; the couple was married at her home in that city and Abel Scranton relocated there for some period of time, before returning to Ohio. He died in Dover in 1905 but his remains were carried to Wellington for burial next to Terissa.

Headstones of Abel W. and Terissa Scranton at Greenwood Cemetery, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

Headstones of Abel W. and Terissa Scranton at Greenwood Cemetery, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

Terissa’s daughter, Jennie Gardner, had an even briefer life than that of her mother. Jennie apparently continued to live with her stepfather in his new house on Magyar Street, until she moved to Cleveland and married Dr. Clinton E. Leland in 1888. (She visited Wellington frequently after her marriage and was often noted as being a guest of her friends, Peter and Minnie Eidt.) The Lelands had one child, a boy who lived only three days. Clinton died after just three years of marriage, aged thirty-five. Jennie then moved to Chicago, at the same time that Abel Scranton moved there, and remarried a man called Rotter. She died in 1895 at thirty-four years of age, and is buried with her first husband and infant son at Riverside Cemetery, in Cleveland, Ohio.

But what of Terissa? I’ve spent weeks trying to learn more about her. We have no known copies of the Enterprise from the period of her death. I have tried to determine her maiden name, in order to trace other census or marriage records, but to no avail. It began to feel as though the tiny card might truly be all that was left of her. Then I stumbled on a citation for an obituary that was printed in the New London Record. In the basement of the New London Public Library, I found this:

In Memoriam. Mrs. Terisa, wife of Mr. A. W. Scranton, died at her home in Wellington, Ohio, Dec. 15th, 1885, in the fiftieth year of her age. Her illness was occasioned by dropsy, resulting in blood poisoning. During the five months continuance of her fatal sickness she suffered severely. But she endured her distress with patience, not a murmur or complaint passed her lips. She possessed the affectionate esteem of the numerous friends with whom she became connected by marriage, and was beloved by her neighbors and associates. She was buried from the family residence on Thursday, Dec. 17th, the funeral services being conducted by the Rev. Mr. Brown of the Methodist Episcopal church” (12-23-1885, pg. 3).

Dropsy is today known as edema, a swelling of the soft tissues caused by an accumulation of excess water within the body. It is often related to congestive heart failure, but can also be caused by a severe sepsis of the blood (i.e. blood poisoning caused by an infection). In a pulmonary edema, the lungs begin to fill with fluid causing extreme difficulty breathing. If the fluids are not removed, the patient can literally drown in her own bed. Prolonged as Terissa’s sickness was, it would have been a highly unpleasant way to die.

Notice on the illness of Mrs. Abel Scranton. "The Elyria Republican," 9-17-1885, pg. 1.

Notice of the illness of Mrs. Abel Scranton. “The Elyria Republican,” 9-17-1885, pg. 1.

To which of her “numerous friends…neighbors and associates” was this little memorial card given after the funeral? How did it come to survive for more than a century? I’ll never know the answers to those questions. Regardless, the card has done its job beautifully. It inspired me–and through me, all of you–to once again honor the memory of Terissa Gardner Scranton.

Now Thank We All Our God

"A Happy Thanksgiving." Undated holiday card.

“A Happy Thanksgiving.” Undated holiday card.

Thanksgiving. Considering how many families were out of town on Thanksgiving day and how many women are detained at home by the extra duties imposed by hospitality, there was a large attendance at church in Wellington. But whether roasting turkey by the kitchen range, looking after the grandchildren or entertaining the little neices [sic] and nephews that could not be taken to church, there is no doubt that many hearts were warmly cognizant of the Divine goodness, who were not numbered with public worshipers that day. Few but would find some quiet half hour in which the mercies of the year were reviewed and recognized. Domestic affection, family ties–every feeling and principle that makes life more sweet and the home stronger–is stimulated by this annual festival” (The Wellington Enterprise, 12-5-1883, pg. 3).

I could not have said it better myself, Dr. Houghton.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

"Good Wishes for Thanksgiving Day." Undated holiday card.

“Good Wishes for Thanksgiving Day.” Undated holiday card.

Poison in the Blood

Advertisement for Ayer's Sarsaparilla, a purported cure for the disease known as scrofula. "The Wellington Enterprise," 7-1-1885, pg. 7.

Advertisement for Ayer’s Sarsaparilla, a purported cure for the disease known as scrofula. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 7-1-1885, pg. 7. Photo by author.

Regular readers of the blog will recall that one of the principal focuses of my research has been the life of Noah Huckins, a Canadian who moved to Wellington after the Civil War and built an Italianate on the north side of town once owned by my family. Huckins had some type of illness that forced him to resign as mayor of the village in September 1872. He lost two children in infancy and his two surviving children were plagued with lifelong health issues; his daughter died of complications from a corrective surgery when she was only in her twenties.

I recently obtained a transcription of a diary kept by Noah Huckins’ older brother, George, while both men were students at Baldwin University. (Many thanks to former Baldwin Wallace University archivist, Jeremy Feador, for sharing the document with me.) Over the course of sixty-three manuscript pages, George mentions his younger brother in only three sentences. But one of those lines may hold the key to revealing Noah Huckins’ mysterious lifelong illness.

Advertisement for Hood's Sarsaparilla, a purported cure for the disease known as scrofula. "The Wellington Enterprise," 10-29-1890, pg. 8.

Advertisement for Hood’s Sarsaparilla, a purported cure for the disease known as scrofula. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 10-29-1890, pg. 8. Photo by author.

On January 25, 1859, George wrote: “Noah is sick today with lung disease.” In the nineteenth century, the most popular name for that particular ailment was consumption; today we know it as tuberculosis. It is a wasting disease that attacks the lungs and can be fatal without proper treatment.

I began to think about Noah’s children, Howard and Ibla, with their strange neck growths. More research revealed that TB is intimately connected with another archaic-sounding sickness, scrofula. Scrofula is most infamously known as a medieval scourge that was once thought to be curable by a royal touch, hence its nickname, “the king’s evil.” The full medical term for the disease is actually Mycobacterial cervical lymphadenitisit is a tubercular infection of the lymph nodes that causes chronic, persistent, painless masses in the neck that grow over time.

Huckins’ children, who may have already been born with a genetic susceptibility to the condition, probably contracted it at very young ages from their father and the infection manifested itself in them as cysts which both had surgically removed in their twenties. Unfortunately, surgery is not an effective treatment against scrofula, because the underlying bacterial cause simply reasserts itself through new growths. Surgery can also spread the bacteria to other parts of the body, and is always inherently risky even when it appears to be a straightforward procedure, as Ibla Huckins’ death demonstrates.

Advertisement for Hood's Sarsaparilla, a purported cure for the disease known as scrofula. "The Wellington Enterprise," 11-25-1891, pg. 4.

Advertisement for Hood’s Sarsaparilla, a purported cure for the disease known as scrofula. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 11-25-1891, pg. 4. Photo by author.

I came across hundreds of advertisements in The Wellington Enterprise for products marketed as cures for the disease. Sarsaparilla, a beverage not unlike root beer, was particularly popular. Many companies chose to sell their inventory through druggists, and even to characterize a serving size as a “dose.” The beverage was made from the root of a sarsaparilla plant, which is believed even today to have minor medicinal properties. The plant actually has a WebMD page, which reports that, “Chemicals in sarsaparilla might help decrease joint pain and itching, and might also reduce bacteria. Other chemicals might combat pain and swelling (inflammation), and also protect the liver against toxins.” Sufferers from scrofula possibly experienced a measure of genuine relief by taking what is today considered a soft drink.

I find myself imagining Howard and Ibla’s uncle, Wellington druggist Erwin Adams, carrying the children bottles of sarsaparilla to enjoy as he walks home up North Main Street on a summer evening…

Hoyt & Peters

Trade card for Hoyt & Peters, Wellington, Ohio. Possibly ca. 1886. Author's collection.

Trade card for Hoyt & Peters, Wellington, Ohio. Possibly ca. 1886. Card measures 3 1/4″ square. Author’s collection.

I LOVE trade cards. I once worked in a library at Harvard that had a marvelous trade card collection. If you are unfamiliar with the term, dear reader, trade cards are small, paper advertisements that were widely distributed by businesses in the nineteenth century. They were often beautifully colored and illustrated, and became popular keepsakes collected by the general public. As a consequence, many have survived, including this little gem from a furniture store that operated in Wellington in the 1880s and 1890s. Researching the company has raised several interesting questions for me, even while it has apparently resolved one of my outstanding mysteries.

Norton G. Hoyt and David J. Peters were brothers-in-law; Norton was married to David’s sister, Hannah. The two families were apparently quite close. In addition to being business associates, the two vacationed together and at one point even shared a residence. What is unclear to me is of precisely what nature their working partnership was, and how it evolved over time.

The first evidence I find linking Hoyt and Peters professionally appears in an Enterprise notice from 1884. “Hoyt & Peters, and E. S. Tripp, have put new iron roo[f]s, on what was the warerooms, and wood and paint shop; painted the outside, and fitted up the interior in good style. Hoyt & Woolley, will be installed in their new quarters, in a few days. Mr. Tripp has already arranged his carriages in his former wood shop, making a fine display. He is also making extensive additions and repairs on his dwelling” (7-16-1884, pg. 5). I have written before about the Tripp carriage works and the uncertain fate of its westernmost building. I believe Hoyt and Peters purchased that building and renovated it to serve as a furniture store and undertaking business, when Edward Tripp “downsized” into his smaller, eastern building (still standing today at 129 East Herrick Avenue.) But the furniture shop that opened in 1884 was not Hoyt & Peters, but rather Hoyt & Woolley.

Printed advertisements from that period indicate that Hoyt & Woolley were in operation for about two years. During that time, “Mr. D. Peters” was also advertising that he was the exclusive agent selling something called the “Delaware County Creamer, a full size sample of which may be seen at Hoyt & Woolley’s Cabinet rooms” (Enterprise, 1-14-1885, pg. 5). By 1886, W. B. Woolley publicly announced his own retirement and the dissolution of the partnership.

Advertisement for Hoyt & Peters. "The Wellington Enterprise," 4-7-1886, pg. 7. Photo by author.

Advertisement for Hoyt & Peters. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 4-7-1886, pg. 7. Photo by author.

In the spring of 1886, regular advertisements began appearing for “Hoyt & Peters, Successors to Hoyt & Woolley.” Unfortunately, several issues of the newspaper do not survive from that crucial moment of transition, so we do not have the benefit of a published announcement explicitly stating who the new partners were and the nature of their business relationship. We can tell from the ads that the new furniture business continued to operate “at the old stand on the north side of Mechanic Street,” namely the former Tripp carriage depot. The year 1886 was also the only time I ever saw specific ads indicating that Hoyt & Peters sold “Pioneer Prepared Paints,” the product featured in the trade card above. This is why I am conjecturing that the trade card dates to that year.

Advertisement for Pioneer Prepared Paints, as sold by Hoyt & Peters. "The Wellington Enterprise," 4-7-1886, pg. 7. Photo by author.

Advertisement for Pioneer Prepared Paints, as sold by Hoyt & Peters. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 4-7-1886, pg. 7. Photo by author.

Three years later, a lengthy business description was published about “HOYT & BENSCHOTEN, FURNITURE AND UNDERTAKING. This firm is composed of N. G. Hoyt and J. M. Benschoten, who entered into partnership in 1886. The large three story brick structure used for their business stands on Mechanic street, near the north-east corner of the square…This is one of the old established business enter prises [sic] of the town, Mr. Hoyt having been in business in Wellington since 1860″ (6-5-1889, pg. 8). What exactly was the connection between Hoyt & Benschoten and Hoyt & Peters? The ultimate fate of the Tripp building offers us a clue.

Just four months after the article above was printed, a news item appeared describing a rather extraordinary sequence of events. A man called C. H. Horton began the excavation process necessary to erect a new building on Mechanics Street. His adjacent neighbor was “the building formerly owned by E. S. Tripp, but now by Hoyt & Peters.” Very soon after the digging began, it became apparent that the former carriage depot was “giving way” and likely to fall down entirely. Earth removal was halted immediately and the workmen were redirected to shore up the endangered structure, but to no avail. “[I]ndications were that the north end would fall before many hours.” It seemed prudent to evacuate the building, so “Messrs. Hoyt & Benschoten decided to remove their furniture to a more secure place.” A group of volunteers relocated the entire stock to any available storage spaces around the village, including the basement of the nearby American House hotel. “This is quite a hard blow to Hoyt & Peters and Hoyt & Benschoten, as their building is not only unfitted for further use, but it disarranges their furniture and undertaking business” (Enterprise, 10-16-1889, pg. 5). Early the next week, the decision was made to demolish the former carriage depot and rebuild a modern structure on the same location.

I noted in my earlier post on the Tripp building that I had located a notice marking its apparent demolition in October 1889. The same piece mentioned that the foundation for C. H. Horton’s building had been laid. My hypothesis that Horton was the owner of the Tripp building, and the builder of its successor, was incorrect. Horton was, in fact, the unwitting author of its destruction. But the erectors and owners of the subsequent occupant of that land, currently 121-123 East Herrick Avenue, were Norton Hoyt and David Peters.

Detail of 1890 Wellington Corporation tax record. Shows the erection of a new building valued at $1,150 on the Hoyt & Peters lots located on Mechanic Street (today called East Herrick Avenue).

Detail of 1890 Wellington Corporation tax record. Shows the erection of a new building valued at $1,150 on the Hoyt & Peters lots located on Mechanics Street. The lot listed as belonging exclusively to N. G. Hoyt was his private residence, which once stood on the west corner of Courtland and Mechanics Streets (current site of Wellington Auto Service).

So what was the precise nature of this business relationship between Hoyt and Peters? Certainly they owned property in common. Was Peters also a stand-by partner for the furniture business when no other option was available? In 1891, two small advertisements were printed side-by-side in the Enterprise. The notice on the left indicated that if anyone wished to purchase fifty bushels of hand-picked beans, they ought to “enquire of D. J. Peters, at N. Hoyt’s furniture store.” The notice on the right was placed by Hoyt, offering to sell his residence and “the entire stock of furniture, and undertaking business of Hoyt & Benschoten, on very liberal terms.” His stated reason for wishing to sell was “the continued illness of Mrs. Hoyt” (2-25-1891, pg. 5). Norton does not appear to have been successful in his offer, but perhaps Hannah’s sickness was the cause of the two families deciding to cohabitate, which they were doing by at least 1893.

In the summer of 1895, Hoyt and Peters officially announced that they were (re)forming their store partnership. But that arrangement was short-lived. By the time a lengthy description of the operation was published in the Enterprise in June 1897, the brothers-in-law had already sold the shop. The description is worth quoting at some length: “HOYT & PETERS. Monday last I visited the furniture store of Hoyt & Peters. This in my judgment, is the leading furniture establishment of Wellington. The building is one of the finest business structures in the town and is centrally located on Main street [Mechanics Street was later called “East Main”], nearly fronting the beautiful square. N. G. Hoyt of the firm has been in business here in Wellington for forty years and two years ago associated with himself D. J. Peters…The establishment has two stories and the stock is arranged so that every article in both warerooms can be examined advantageously by the customer…This business has been sold to H. W. Bennett, who will succeed the old firm of Hoyt & Peters, and also add the undertaking business” (6-30-1897, pg. 7).

Advertisement for Leander R. Porter's undertaking and embalming operation, located within Hoyt & Peters' furniture store. "The Wellington Enterprise," 4-29-1896, pg. 4. Photo by author.

Advertisement for Leander R. Porter’s undertaking and embalming operation, located within Hoyt & Peters’ furniture store. “The Wellington Enterprise,” 4-29-1896, pg. 4. Photo by author.

The furniture shop had included an undertaking component since its earliest days. (Couch’s furniture shop on South Main Street also performed funerary services; coffins had, after all, been made of wood until quite recently.) In fact, J. M. Benschoten was a graduate of Clark’s School of Embalming in Cleveland. “[H]e is prepared to guarantee that bodies embalmed by the process he uses may be kept for any length of time without regard to the condition of the weather” (6-5-1889, pg. 8). David Peters apparently did not share an aptitude for all things mortuary; when he took over the partnership, a Wellington man named Leander R. Porter was contracted to manage that side of the operation.

After nearly four decades as a Wellington businessman, Norton Hoyt relocated his family to Norwalk, Ohio in 1897. I found several notices of the Hoyts returning to the village on visits; they were always reported to be staying with the Peters family. The two men apparently decided to make their association, dare I say, eternal. They are interred in adjacent plots in Wellington’s Greenwood Cemetery.

Headstones of the Hoyt and Peters families, at Greenwood Cemetery, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

Headstones of the Hoyt and Peters families, at Greenwood Cemetery, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

 

“A Modern Home In Every Respect”

326 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

326 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

“MR. CAMP’S NEW RESIDENCE. Mr. Ferd Camp has his plans ready and is now awaiting the arrival of the brick, when he expects to begin the erection of his new brick residence on grounds fronting South Main street, and directly in front of his large barn. It will be a modern home in every respect, although it will not be so very large, the size being 38×32, one story and a half high, but the building will be extra well built and will cost him at least $6,000 when completed. The old tennis grounds, that have afforded much pleasure to lovers of the game in years agone, will soon be occupied by a handsome home for our good friend. May himself and wife live long to enjoy the same” (The Wellington Enterprise, 5-3-1916, pg. 1).

When Fergus and Julia Camp decided to move from their four-hundred-acre horse farm in Homer to the more urban setting of Wellington in 1906, they purchased the three-story home and grounds belonging to O. P. Chapman. (They left their only son in charge of the farm in Homer, though Fergus made frequent trips back to participate in harvesting and horse sales.) Camp was a wealthy man and even before relocating to the village, he commissioned “quite elaborate” improvements to the South Main Street property, which was then only twenty-five years old. The tennis courts mentioned in the notice above may have been one such addition.

Wellington, Ohio from a postcard cancelled in 1906, the year Fergus and Julia Camp moved to town. Postcard images were often reused for many years, but this picture could have been taken no earlier than 1904 (the year the Reserve Building was completed). Author's collection.

Wellington, Ohio from a postcard cancelled in 1906, when Fergus and Julia Camp moved to town. Postcard images were frequently reprinted, but this picture could have been taken no earlier than 1904, the year the Reserve Building was completed. Author’s collection.

By 1906, the Camps were both in their sixties. Fergus–called “Ferd” by his friends–was a white-bearded, wiry man who had lost a hand in a combine accident. I conducted an oral history with a gentleman who knew Camp at the end of his life, when he himself was a boy. He described Camp as a womanizer, drinker and gambler, though I have been unable (not surprisingly) to find published accounts that substantiate those assertions. He knew that Camp had lost a hand, and recalled that he often wore a hook in its place, and held the reins on his horses with the opposite hand.

Camp’s wealth enabled him to pursue his passion, raising Percherons. I noted in my previous post that the story of O. P. Chapman’s carriage house had become a bit garbled as it was passed down the generations. By the time my family came to own it, we were told that Fergus Camp had built it to house trotter horses, which he raced on a track that was later adapted into the present-day circular driveway. While I am by no means an expert in matters equestrian, my understanding is that Percherons are renowned as draft horses, used both on farms and also to pull earlier forms of public transportation. I do not know if the story about the track is accurate, but I do know that the barn predates Camp’s occupation. He did not build it, though it may have been what convinced him to buy the Chapman property.

Four generations of the Camp family in June 1923. Fergus and Julia Camp are in the center. Their daughter, Ruth Camp King, stands to their left. Their granddaughter, Mary King Robinson, stands to their right. Great-grandson David W. Robinson is the child in arms. Author's collection.

Four generations of the Camp family in June 1923. Fergus and Julia Camp are in the center. Their daughter, Ruth Camp King, stands to their left. Their granddaughter, Mary King Robinson, stands to their right. Great-grandson David W. Robinson is the toddler. Author’s collection.

Fergus Camp was one of the first residents of Wellington to own an automobile, possibly as early as 1906. He seems to have used the car for the routine trips back to Homer. “Mr. Camp handles his auto with ease and grace, and by the way, he has a smart car, with plenty of power,” the paper reported in 1911. That same year, Ferd became one of the founders of the Wellington Motor Club. There were just eleven members in total, of whom three were doctors, which perhaps suggests the socio-economic status required to own and operate such a vehicle at that time. (In 1911, a new Ford cost between $600 and $1,200.) “The principal object of the Club is to obtain the written pledges of candidates and present members of the Board of County Commissioners, that the 4-mile stretch of quagmire and holes, called a ‘main road,’ between Wellington and Pittsfield be ‘piked’ the coming summer” (Enterprise, 11-22-1911, pg. 7). Five years later, Camp’s car was hit by a train at Spencer. “It was smashed some,” a reporter noted dryly, but the seventy-one-year-old driver somehow escaped uninjured.

In 1915, just nine years after the Camps purchased the Chapman residence and moved to Wellington, they decided to build a brand new home. That summer, the family sold 318 South Main Street to Charles Jones of Brighton. But they held onto the adjoining land and carriage house. Their plan was to build a modern, Craftsman-style bungalow on the lot, then occupied by their own tennis courts.

Oddly, the Camps opted to sell their home before construction on the new building had even started. Instead, they moved directly across the street into a small wooden house previously owned by the late Calvin Sage. Sage had been a longtime insurance agent (Noah Huckins was part of his firm in the 1880s), and according to the 1870 federal census, he had lived with Oren and Ella Chapman in Huntington before they all relocated and became neighbors in Wellington. Sage’s home is still known today as the Huntington House, as the Greek Revival structure was supposedly transported from that town sometime after the railroad came through Wellington in the mid-nineteenth century. Fergus and Julia Camp would be tenants in the house for nearly eighteen months.

Calvin Sage. Photo courtesy of the Southern Lorain County Historical Society, "The Spirit of '76" Museum.

Calvin Sage. Photo courtesy of the Southern Lorain County Historical Society, “The Spirit of ’76” Museum.

409 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. The so-called "Huntington House" once owned by Calvin Sage and temporary home to Fergus and Julia Camp.

409 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. The so-called “Huntington House” once owned by Calvin Sage and temporary home to Fergus and Julia Camp.

Weather during the building season of 1916 was poor, and bricklayers were difficult to employ, because the Union School was erecting a large brick addition that same year. It was almost twelve months after a notice first appeared in print announcing Camp’s intention to build the bungalow that the Enterprise finally reported “the Camp residence begins to look like home” (9-27-1916, pg. 2). Over the course of the following six months, wiring was installed, the grounds were landscaped, and “Mr. Ad. Wadsworth” was employed as the decorator and painter of the house. The last notice I have located pertaining to the construction reported that “Culver” had just finished laying a stone walkway from the porch to the street in July 1917.

Fergus and Julia were finally able to occupy their residence in February 1917. They were both more than seventy years old, which may account for the origin of the “retirement home” story I mentioned in my previous post. All the published notices during the building process stressed the beauty, modernity and costliness of the new structure. The Craftsman style had become very popular in early-twentieth-century America, a clean-lined and elegant response to the clutter and fussiness of Victorian architecture and decor. Though we do not know precisely how much the house cost to build and furnish, the 1930 federal census estimated the value of the Camps’ bungalow at $10,000. By comparison, the much larger house that Camp sold to Charles Jones at 318 South Main Street was estimated to be worth just $6,000. (It is possible that the value of the carriage house accounts for this difference, but the census question does specifically ask for “value of home.”)

Undated postcard (addressed but apparently never mailed) showing 326 South Main Street shortly after its completion. Author's collection.

Undated postcard (addressed but apparently never mailed) showing 326 South Main Street shortly after its completion. Author’s collection.

Original basement sink of 326 South Main Street. Possibly made of soapstone and stamped, "F. M. Camp / Wellington, Ohio." Photo by author.

Original cellar sink of 326 South Main Street. Possibly made of soapstone and stamped, “F. M. CAMP / WELLINGTON OHIO.” Photo by author.

Julia Low Camp died in her modern bungalow in 1936. She was ninety and had celebrated her sixty-eighth wedding anniversary a few months before. Fergus Camp survived his wife by just twelve weeks; he was ninety-one when he passed away in the house. The gentleman with whom I conducted the oral history asserted that Camp died heavily in debt. Court papers filed two years before his demise show the estimated value of his personal property–including ninety-four sheep, stock in the First Wellington Bank, the dwelling in Wellington and the farm in Homer–at $23,900. Attorney (and later amateur historian) Robert Walden petitioned the court to sell ninety of the sheep and some miscellaneous farm equipment “for the support and maintenance of his said ward and his family and for the payment of some of his debts,” but made no mention of a necessity of selling the more valuable real estate assets.

Camp’s probate documents include a room-by-room inventory of the contents of the bungalow in 1936. Notable items included a “marbletop” table; a clock and “statue”; a Victrola and records; a piano and bench valued at $15; oil paintings; an ice box in the kitchen; a washing machine in the cellar; and a “Buick car” parked in the barn worth $10. Camp’s Wellington lots were appraised at $8,500 at the time of his death.

According to my oral history subject, the bungalow was then auctioned “by invitation” to local businessmen. The sale was reportedly conducted in the dining room. The winning bidder was a man named Florian Schweller (1898-1976), an immigrant from Austria-Hungary who owned several enterprises in town over the course of his life, including the Wellington Candy Company at 122 West Herrick Avenue. Schweller had known Fergus Camp, but fearing possible prejudice against foreigners, he sent a representative to the auction and bought the house anonymously. The Schweller family occupied the little brick residence for almost fifty years. To this day, three decades later, the house is still known to many people in Wellington as “the old Schweller place.”

Interior view of the Schweller family's candy shop on West Herrick Avenue (present location of Fort's Old Towne Tavern), ca. 1926. Photo 970431 of "Wellington Family Album" Collection, Herrick Memorial Library. Permission to display generously granted by the library.

Interior view of the Schweller family’s candy shop at 122 West Herrick Avenue (present location of Fort’s Old Towne Tavern), dated May 1926. Photo 970431 of “Wellington Family Album” Collection, Herrick Memorial Library. Permission to display generously granted by the library.

I have one final coda to add to my tale of the Camp family’s thoroughly modern home. On State Route 18, just west of the village, is a small brick bungalow that is its mirror-image; the floor plan is identical, but reversed. That house was built for a man called Winfield McConnell, perhaps around 1925. I have spoken with the present owners, as well as members of the McConnell family. Not much is known about the history of that house, though it is believed to have been constructed by Delton Mohrman, McConnell’s nephew. Mohrman was a “jack-of-all-trades,” a farmer, carpenter and builder in the non-growing seasons. I do not know if Win McConnell and Ferd Camp knew one another. It has been suggested to me that the two bungalows were assembled from identical kits, but I am not sure if that makes sense given Camp’s wealth and the emphasis in the written record on how expensive (and slow) his new construction was going to prove. If the first house was not a kit, did McConnell visit and like the look of it? Did he ask Camp to share building plans? Or was Delton Mohrman somehow involved in the construction of Camp’s house and then shared his knowledge with his uncle?

What a wonderful centennial birthday gift to our bungalow it would be if I could learn more.

De-Camp

318 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

318 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

“One by one, these resourceful neighbors left their Huntington homes and built larger and varied Wellington homes. Practically all of these New England transplants were located on both sides of South Main Street in the southerly section of Wellington” (Frank Chapman Van Cleef, Ninety-Nine Bottles: Recollections and Episodes since 1896 Originating in Lorain County, Ohio, pg. 19.)

Several months back, I made my last post about our former home at 600 North Main Street. I mentioned that my family had purchased a new house, also in Wellington, and that I would eventually tell its story. Before I can do that, I must start by relating the tale of the house next door.

When we moved into our new place, we were told that the same person–a man by the name of Camp–had first built the large Victorian one lot north, then later built our house as a “retirement” property. A bit of research revealed that the truth is both more complicated, and also much more illustrative of the late-nineteenth-century history of the village.

Detail of Wellington Village map showing west side of South Main Street. From "Atlas of Lorain County, Ohio. 1874." Pg. 61. Photo by author.

Detail of Wellington Village map showing west side of South Main Street, between South and Fourth Streets. Note the shaded school shown on lot 25; this is the approximate location of 318 South Main Street today. From “Atlas of Lorain County, Ohio. 1874.” Pg. 61. Photo by author.

In 1878, Abel Dewey Perkins was a fifty-three-year-old Lorain County Commissioner living in Huntington. That winter, he sold his farm and determined to join the ongoing migration of Huntington residents to Wellington. But, The Wellington Enterprise reported, he was undecided as to whether he ought to build a new house or buy an existing one (2-28-1878, pg. 3). Perkins apparently opted to build, but must have secured interim accommodations for his family because he took his time about it.

Nearly two years later, the Wellington Board of Education auctioned off the South Primary school building and its land, located on the west side of South Main Street. Perkins purchased the property for $800, a figure later reported in the budget for the new addition to the Union School a few blocks north (the older school apparently being sold to finance expansion of the newer). At the same time, several of the lots surrounding the primary school were purchased by a man named O. P. Chapman. Chapman was an early partner in Horr, Warner & Co., a highly successful businessman, and also happened to be Abel Perkins’ only son-in-law. Oren and wife Ella were planning to relocate from Huntington as soon as the new family seat was completed.

Hiram Allyn, builder, finished the house he has been building for A. D. Perkins on South Main street. It is said to be one of the finest specimens of gothic architecture in town,” the Enterprise proclaimed in the spring of 1881. The very next issue informed readers that, “Mr. O. P. Chapman will move into Mr. A. Perkins’ house April 1st, the two families occupying it in common” (3-14-1883, pg. 3).

While the house was under construction, Chapman commissioned an enormous carriage house on his adjoining land. It was finished in May 1883. “O. P. Chapman has the best arranged and finest finished horse and stock barn on his place on South Main St. we ever saw. It will pay any admirer of good things to call and see it. He has also some very fine blooded stock, and is giving special attention to their growth and improvement” (Enterprise, 5-9-1883, pg. 3). The newspaper was not just being polite; the carriage house was so beautifully crafted and elaborately decorated that it had the same tax evaluation as Perkins’ three-story residence, namely $1,205. Even today, passers-by often mistake it for a Victorian home, though it still retains its original horse and cattle stalls.

O. P. Chapman's carriage house, originally built as part of the property for 318 South Main Street (now part of the parcel for 326 South Main Street). Photo by author.

O. P. Chapman’s carriage house. Originally built as part of the property for 318 South Main Street, it is now included in the parcel for 326 South Main Street. Photo by author.

In 1892, Abel Dewey Perkins died in his home of “apoplexy,” very likely what we would today term a stroke. Just five years later, his daughter Ella tragically drowned in a holiday boating accident; she was only forty-six. Abel’s widow, Mary, died in 1901. It is not hard to imagine how empty such a large house must have seemed in the face of so much personal loss. By 1906, Chapman was ready to move on, albeit not very far away. His nephew, Frank Chapman Van Cleef, later wrote, “After Uncle Oren’s tragic loss of Aunt Ella by drowning in his arms when their row boat capsized on a Lake Erie fishing trip, Grandma [Isobel Lindsey Chapman] and my parents spared no effort trying to alleviate his loneliness. When he sold his residential property, he made his headquarters in the second floor apartment Grandma had built directly over her own apartment. As housekeeping became more arduous for her, both she and Uncle Oren eventually prevailed upon my parents [Edward Anson and Josephine Esther Chapman Van Cleef] to move into the large upstairs bedroom” (Ninety-Nine Bottles, pgs. 32-33).

The house Van Cleef describes in that passage, in which he spent part of his own childhood, is a gorgeous brick Italianate that still stands today. It was erected by his maternal grandfather–yet another Huntington émigré–in 1876 and in his honor is still known as the John Austin Chapman house. So Oren Chapman moved from living communally with his wife’s family to living so with his own, by relocating just a hundred yards south.

344 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

344 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

March 14, 1906, an Enterprise front-page headline announced, “The O. P. Chapman Place Sold.” The three-paragraph article noted that Chapman had lived in “his handsome home on South Main street” for “some 23 years.” It described the house as “one of the best properties in town, and has a large and convenient barn, besides two or three acres of land.” F. M. Camp of Homer, Ohio was named as the purchaser, and a “well to do man.” The piece ended, “Rumor says [Chapman] got $9,000 for the property. It is cheap at that price and is the largest amount ever paid for residence property in this city.”

So, local legend notwithstanding, Fergus and Julia Camp did not move to Wellington until 1906, by which time the house at 318 South Main Street was already a quarter-century old. The adjacent carriage house had stood just as long, and was built by Oren Chapman, not by Camp for his racehorses, another myth. In my next post, I will write more about the Camps and about the house they actually did build, a lovely little Craftsman-style bungalow nestled amongst older and grander neighbors.