Spring Forward

2019 #1

2019 Women’s History Month display, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.

Happy first (full) day of spring, in this Women’s History Month of 2019. Hard to believe that Wellington’s bicentennial celebrations have come and gone. Readers of this blog may have noticed that I have been taking a hiatus from regular posts. I needed a bit of a break after all the work of 2018, which included lectures, exhibitions, interviews for publications and a few large-scale public events. I am slowly reengaging with the research process, and am hoping to begin on a second book manuscript very soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to update you on a few items of potential interest. As in years past, the Wellington Genealogy Group has sponsored a downtown storefront exhibition for both February’s Black History Month (photo below) and March’s Women’s History Month (photo above), the latter of which remains on display for several more weeks. The current exhibit can be seen on East Herrick Avenue, and copies of the panels are also being shown inside the Herrick Memorial Library.

In January, I added a new tab to the blog. It is called “Trade Cards,” and on that page you will find images of all the nineteenth-century printed advertising ephemera from Wellington businesses that I have accumulated over the past few years. It also recently came to my attention that the Wellington Enterprise, the village’s newspaper since 1867, has changed hands and websites. Sadly, it appears that the new owners did not migrate any of the archived news content, and therefore all of the links to Enterprise articles on the “In the Press” page went inactive. I will be working to clean that page up.

I have two events coming up in early April that are both open to the public. On April 4th, the Wellington Literary Club has invited me to speak about my book, Fully Equal to the Situation: Nineteenth-Century Women of Wellington, Ohio. This presentation is free and light refreshments will be served. A few days later, on April 7th, the “Spirit of ’76” Museum is celebrating its opening weekend of the season by having a panel of local authors available to sign books. Details on both of these happenings can be found here. Hope to see you there!

2019 AA #1

2019 Black History Month display, Wellington, Ohio. Photo by author.


The Eleventh Hour Of The Eleventh Day Of The Eleventh Month


“Wellington Enterprise,” 10-2-1918, pg. 4.

Today marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. While I generally avoid writing about the twentieth century (I vowed long ago not to print stories about people still remembered by loved ones) this seemed too important a milestone to ignore. Initially, I wanted to write about what sort of coverage the ceasefire received in the local press, and what types of celebrations, if any, Wellington engaged in on the day. Sadly, the issue published most immediately after the end of hostilities, which would have come out on Wednesday, November 13th, was not included in the preservation microfilm of the Wellington Enterprise. Hopefully a copy or two still survives in private hands.

Instead, I decided to offer a brief post showcasing some of the numerous illustrations featured in the Enterprise in October and November of 1918. Henry O. Fifield was owner and editor at the time. The formatting and content of the paper are very similar to issues published in peacetime. What immediately catches the eye in looking at the wartime issues are the large number, and size, of the advertising illustrations. Some filled a full page, and almost all were intended to encourage the purchase of bonds to finance the war.


The two small drawings above were both printed on November 20th, pages 2 (r) and 4 (l). Both encourage fuel conservation to help with the war effort. Tiny images like these were sprinkled throughout the text of the paper, serving as content breaks or space fillers. The image on the left was printed right next to Henry Fifield’s announcement that he was selling the Enterprise after nearly two decades at its helm.


“Wellington Enterprise,” 10-2-1918, pg. 6.


“Wellington Enterprise,” 10-16-1918, pg. 3.

The October 16th issue announced that something called “Uncle Sam’s Trophy Train” had passed through the village five days earlier (pg. 4). The train was apparently loaded with captured German armaments. The Enterprise reported that more than two thousand people came to view it, and purchased $7,500 in war bonds to support the troops as they ended the conflict in Europe.


This advertisement had been printed regularly in the weeks leading up to the Armistice, but previously read “…Help Lick the Kaiser.” Once victory was assured, the ad copy was altered. “Wellington Enterprise,” 11-20-1918, pg. 3.


Wight’s Jewelry Store published several different advertisements, encouraging people to do their patriotic duty by purchasing war bonds, and “then if you have money left for purchases in our line, you will find our word as good as bond” (10-2-1918, pg. 4). A month later, they were advising the public to purchase silver as Christmas gifts, arguing that silver has historically been a good investment in wartime (11-6-1918, pg. 8).

The Enterprise featured a number of full-page advertisements, such as a letter printed on October 9th purporting to be from President Woodrow Wilson himself, asking Americans to continue to purchase bonds even as the war drew to a close. Public service pieces such as these, no doubt appearing in papers across the nation, were paid for by local businesses so that publishers would not bear the brunt of continual advertising revenue loss. Such ads were labelled, “This Space Contributed to Winning the War by…” followed by the name of the Wellington merchant.


Cartoons such as these, all included in the October 9th edition, reinforced the message that the most patriotic action any citizen could take, short of military service, was to keep buying bonds until all hostilities ended and all soldiers were brought home safely.

According to the “Roster of Wellington’s Deceased War Veterans,” over 130 citizens of the village served their country in World War I. The list includes many names still familiar to us today: Bradstock, Broome, Brumfield, Fortney, Gott, King, Simonson. As the bells toll out in solemn remembrance this morning, take a moment to give thanks for the peace we enjoy as a result of their sacrifice. If only the Great War truly had been the “War to End All Wars.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 9.26.45 PM

Graves registration card for artist Archibald M. Willard, showing his death on October 11, 1918 and recording his burial in Greenwood Cemetery, Wellington, Ohio.

Today marks yet another moment of importance in Wellington’s year of historical milestones. October 11th is the one-hundredth anniversary of the death of the village’s most famous citizen, the painter Archibald Willard. He passed away at the age of eighty-two, and though he had lived and worked in Cleveland for more than four decades, he chose to return to Wellington to be laid to rest. (To read more about Willard’s relationship to the local Masonic lodge, visit here and here.)

While I did not want to overlook the date, I am not able to write more at present. Historic Homes Tour 2018 is upon us this Sunday and there is still a tremendous amount of preparation to complete. I hope local readers of the blog are planning to attend. All proceeds go to Main Street Wellington, to support its mission of preserving and strengthening our unique downtown environment. The weather forecast is improving hourly, so please consider joining us. It should be a wonderful way to spend a perfect autumn afternoon. You might even pay your respects to Mr. Willard in Greenwood while you are out and about.

Kindred Spirits

226 So Main April 1962

April 1962 photograph of 226 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio. Image courtesy of owners Tim and Leslie Simonson.

There are few homes in Wellington today more readily recognizable than the gorgeous Italianate “painted lady” standing at 226 South Main Street. For nearly a century-and-a-half, the house gazed across the road at a bustling school campus. In 1867, the Union School had first been erected, and evolved over time into McCormick Middle School, which was sadly removed in 2016. By the mid-twentieth century, the once grand residence had fallen into a state of disrepair, and it is therefore fondly recalled by Wellington schoolchildren of that era as “the haunted house.”

The house may or may not be haunted, but its origins are somewhat mysterious, in the sense that they are obscured by the mists of time. The land on which 226 South Main stands is legally defined as block 1, lot 17. In 1852, early Wellington settler Loring Wadsworth first paid taxes on that lot. Wadsworth had been born in Becket, Massachusetts in 1800, emigrating to Ohio in 1821. In later life, he was one of the men charged in connection with the Oberlin-Wellington Slave Rescue of 1858, as he was believed to be an operator on the Underground Railroad. Wadsworth served twenty-one days in jail as a result, and was later elected mayor of Wellington, possibly in recognition of his principled actions. He served as mayor from April 1860 to April 1861, and died in 1862.

Loring Wadsworth (R)

Loring Wadsworth (2nd from right), detail of April 1859 photograph depicting Rescuers outside the Cuyahoga County Jail in Cleveland, Ohio.

Wadsworth owned several lots adjacent to what is today 226 South Main. The 1857 Map of Lorain County, Ohio (which features a detailed inset of Wellington) shows that in that year, he owned block 1, lots 16, 17 and 90, with the family residence located on lot 16. The Greek Revival house that still stands today at 222 South Main is likely one of the older residences in town, erected by  Wadsworth and his family as early as the 1830s.

Though Wadsworth died in 1862, his estate continued to be listed as the taxpayer of record on his former land holdings until well into the 1870s. This was not an uncommon practice; I have always assumed that it had something to do with settling the deceased’s estate, though in this instance, a much longer period of time passed than I have seen before. Whatever the financial or legal reasons, Loring Wadsworth was still listed on village tax rolls for block 1, lot 17 in 1871, when the value of the land suddenly jumped–after decades of remaining flat and unchanging–from $42 to $278. This strongly suggests that a house was first erected on the lot sometime in the period of 1870 to 1871.

Loring’s widow, Statira Kingsbury Wadsworth, died in 1871. Even then, the land and property formerly owned by her husband continued to appear in corporation tax records under his name. It was not until 1874–twelve years after Wadsworth died–that the property legally changed hands. In that year, block 1, lot 17, still valued at $278, passed into the ownership of Horace N. Wadsworth, William Gunn and local cheese dealer William D. Minor.

A real estate transfer published in the Oberlin Weekly News showed the sale of lot 17 was made by Benjamin Wadsworth to Horace Wadsworth and William Gunn for $667. Benjamin Wadsworth was the eldest son of Loring Wadsworth. By the end of the nineteenth century, he was known as “the largest landowner among the agriculturalists of Lorain County,” with over one thousand acres and a well-regarded sheep breeding operation. It has been suggested that Benjamin Wadsworth built 226 South Main as a “retirement home” for his own use. Wadsworth was forty-nine years old in 1870, the conjectured date of construction. Wellington tax records from the period show that he owned no property in the village; instead, he maintained a steady holding of 145 acres in lot 24, the southwestern corner of the township. The 1870 federal census shows Benjamin (49), his wife Maria (44), and children Elmer (18) and Jane (12) living in Huntington; in 1880, Benjamin (59) and Maria (54) were still in Huntington, living next door to Elmer and his wife, Mary, both aged 28. While Benjamin Wadsworth was somehow involved in the construction of the house on lot 17, he sold it soon after completion. The three men listed as taxpayers in the 1874 rolls were most likely conducting real estate transactions for profit, rather than purchasing the house for personal use.

Benjamin Wadsworth

Benjamin Wadsworth (1821-1912). Hand-drawn portrait by daughter Jane “Jennie” Wadsworth Eckles. Image from Ancestry.com.

In 1875, a small addition was put on the house, increasing its value slightly to $300. That same year, the property was sold again. From that point forward, the taxpayer of record was one Hattie McClaran. Harriet “Hattie” Lovett McClaran (ca. 1845-1889) was the wife of local physician Dr. Thomas M. McClaran. Harriet was born in Shreve, Ohio, approximately thirty miles southwest of Wellington. She and Thomas were married in Holmes County on March 20, 1866. Thomas had served as a private in the 4th Regiment, Co. E, Ohio Infantry of the Union Army. Wounded during his military service, he collected a disability pension later in life. After the war, Thomas decided to attend medical school, and graduated from the University of Wooster Medical Department in 1874. McClaran suffered from lifelong ill health and was frequently mentioned in the local newspapers as traveling to more beneficial climates, apparently without his family.

The 1880 federal census showed five adults and one child living together in the household: Thomas McClaran (37); Harriet McClaran (35); Lillian McClaran (11); servant Annie Spicer (24); and a young couple from Maine called Edward (24) and Lena (23) Everett. Edward was a druggist, perhaps boarding with the physician and his family during an apprenticeship, or while he attempted to establish his own business in the village. Maybe the McClarans found their quarters too cramped once they took in boarders. By 1881, they made major renovations to their home. The Wellington Enterprise commented on the ongoing work, and the tax-assessed value of the property skyrocketed from $300 to $1,890. This strongly suggests that the back wing of 226 South Main was added at that time.

WE 4.28.1881, pg. 3

“Wellington Enterprise,” April 28, 1881, page 3.

The McClarans’ tenure in the residence did not end happily. They sold the property to John Britton Smith, owner and editor of the Enterprise, in June 1888. They then traveled to Springfield, Missouri, for a visit with their only child, a married daughter. By October, Hattie McClaran was back in Ohio and committed to the Newburgh State Hospital, an asylum in Cleveland. Dr. McClaran briefly returned as well, moving into the American House hotel during his wife’s committal. Tragically, Hattie died by suicide on a home visit with her sister in Wooster, in January 1889. She was buried in Wooster and Dr. McClaran soon returned to Missouri to live with his daughter. He died June 21, 1890 and is buried in Springfield National Cemetery. When he passed, the Enterprise printed a four-sentence remembrance which noted, “He and his faithful wife toiled here for a number of years and as a result of their labors secured a beautiful place to reside on South Main street, expecting to spend the balance of their days here” (6-25-1890, pg. 5).

John Britton Smith occupied 226 South Main from 1888 until 1897. When the editor sold the Enterprise and left the village, the owner of the local boot and shoe shop, Hugh Comstock Harris, purchased the residence for himself and wife Ada Bacon Harris. The couple had no children, and when Hugh was elected to serve as Lorain County Treasurer, they also left Wellington, relocating to Elyria sometime after 1901.

John Britton Smith d. 1924

John Britton Smith (1845-1924). A native of Cardington, Ohio, Smith is buried in Lakewood Park Cemetery, Rocky River, Ohio. Photo from Cardington-Ohio-Heritage.com.

As the twentieth century began, the house welcomed its second owner/editor of the Wellington Enterprise. Henry O. Fifield, recently arrived in the village, purchased the property sometime around 1902. Henry and his wife, Emma, lived with their widowed French Canadian daughter-in-law, Alice, and beloved granddaughter, Stella. Stella had been born in Canada and was a talented musician who went on to teach music herself. She was married in the house in 1920, and a front-page article in the Enterprise described the celebrations in great detail. The family home played a starring role: “[T]he bride…advanced through the library to the living room. At the same time the groom…advanced to the living room from the front of the house. The bridal party…then gathered in a bower of evergreens and palms in the large bay window in the living room. This bower was a beautiful creation and the work of Miss Laura Tissot a friend of the bride. After the impressive ceremony, the bridal party was seated in the dining room…They and the guests were served sumptuously by Caterer Gunn of Oberlin” (1-4-1921, pg. 1). Was Stella’s well-publicized nuptials the seed that blossomed into a popular story about 226 South Main being enlarged specifically to accommodate a bride descending the front curving staircase?

Henry Fifield

Proud Union Army veteran Henry O. Fifield on the front steps of his home at 226 South Main Street. Image courtesy of owners Tim and Leslie Simonson.

Henry Fifield lived to see his granddaughter engaged, but died nearly a year before the wedding. The Italianate at 226 South Main remained in the extended Fifield family for the first half of the century, belonging to Stella and her widowed mother, Alice, who later remarried and brought her second husband into the house.

By 1976, the year of America’s bicentennial celebrations, a young local couple who also happened to be deeply committed to preserving Wellington’s past decided that a grand old home that needed love (and a great deal of work!) was exactly where they wanted to spend their married life. Today, 226 South Main Street is haunted no more. Home for more than forty years to beloved residents Tim and Leslie Simonson, its vibrant wine-red color and flower-filled yard are often the backdrop for large gatherings of friends and family. The renovated carriage house at the rear of the property is well-known in the village as the Simonson Clock Shop.

226 South Main 1887 Rear Wing Addition?

226 South Main Street, Wellington, Ohio.

“Fire In The Morning And War At Night”

Cleveland Morning Leader, 9.16.1858. pg. 2

“Cleveland Morning Leader,” 9-16-1858, pg. 2.

Today is the one hundred and sixtieth anniversary of the Oberlin-Wellington Slave Rescue. September 13, 1858 was one of the most eventful days that has ever occurred in the village’s two hundred years of existence, on both a local and a national level. The day began with a massive conflagration in the southwestern corner of the downtown, and ended with a single act of political resistance–but also human decency and compassion–that at least one historian has argued may have precipitated the coming of the American Civil War. A local woman summed it up as “a fire in the morning and war at night” (Oberlin News, 3-3-1899).

I have written about this date before. Wellington was in some ways a very different place in the fall of 1858 than it is today. The town had been legally incorporated for only three years. There was no Wellington Enterprise, no local newspaper of any name. The railroad line was less than a decade old. Dairy and cheese production was still done on individual family farms, not yet exported in massive quantities by regional factories. There were as yet no large and elegant homes on South Main or Courtland Streets, no imposing brick school filling the community with pride in its educational system. Only about 1,600 people lived in Wellington (one-third of today’s population), of whom none were people of color.

Village of Wellington 1857

Detail of “Village of Wellington” (1857) by Archibald Willard, showing the east side of South Main Street. Original painting owned by Herrick Memorial Library. Permission to display generously granted by the library.

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Detail of “Map of Lorain Co. Ohio From Actual Surveys by John F. Geil. 1857” showing the downtown business district, Wellington, Ohio.

The massive fire that tore through the shops on the west side of South Main Street in the early hours of that Monday morning destroyed buildings and inventory. It gutted the pharmacy of Dr. James Rust, and the meeting rooms of the Wellington Masons. (Rust later invited Masonic Lodge #127 to relocate to his new building and occupy its third floor, which they did for nearly forty-five years.) In the absence of a fire department, volunteer bucket brigades were assembled to quell the flames, even as bystanders risked their lives running back into buildings to save precious contents. In a community so compact and close-knit, and with smoke from the blaze visible for miles in the clear autumn air, it did not take long before hundreds of people were assembled in the public square. Had those large, otherwise unoccupied crowds not been present in Wellington that afternoon, the events of the rescue might have transpired quite differently.

For a detailed description of the day, I would recommend reading A History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue compiled by Oberlin student and Rescuer Jacob R. Shipherd in 1859 from court transcripts and contemporary writings. Nat Brandt’s 1990 publication, The Town That Started the Civil War, is also an informative and enjoyable read. Ten Wellington men were indicted in connection with the rescue of John Price, and Brandt argues that eight of those ten were “singled out because they were conductors on the Underground Railroad” (125). The indicted Wellington men were:

Thinking of all the Oberlin and Wellington people who took action that day against slavery and the inhumanity of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, I am reminded of  the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he wrote in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” a century later, “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”

The Gift of Time

1908 WHS Football

The 1908 Wellington High School football team. Image measures 6 3/4″ L x 4 3/4″ W, mounted to black backing board.

I know, I know. In my recent fifth anniversary commemoration I cautioned that I would not be making as many blog entries moving forward. Yet here I am, with my third post in as many weeks. But I simply had to share this with all of you. This week, I received in the mail an enormous box of history. Descendants of the Vischer and Tripp families, who now live outside of Ohio, decided that some of their family keepsakes needed to come home to Wellington. The package was an absolute treasure trove of books, photographs and small objects. Many items pertain directly to the Tripp and Vischer families in the early twentieth century, and so are outside the immediate scope of my historical knowledge. But the images are so wonderful and unique that I include them here regardless.

Vischers behind 210 So Main

Undated image of “Vischer family & horses back of 210 South Main.” Image measures 3 1/2″ L x 4 1/2″ W, mounted to tan backing board.

William Bentley Vischer (1863-1948) owned a piano and organ store on the south side of Liberty Street, what we now call West Herrick Avenue. The ghostly remnants of his painted advertisement are still visible on the west side of the mansard roof. William was married to Carrie Anne Tripp Vischer (1861-1940). Carrie’s father was well-known carriage manufacturer and early Wellington mayor Edward S. Tripp. But she is known in her own right as the author of “History of Wellington,” delivered as a public address and later printed as a special insert in the Wellington Enterprise in 1922.

Carrie Vischer

Carrie Ann Tripp Vischer. Oval portrait measures 3 1/2″ L x 2 1/2″ W, mounted to black backing board.

Some of the most wonderful objects in the collection are five ferrotypes, also known as tintypes. Ferrotypes are a kind of photographic image created without the use of a negative. A thin sheet of metal was coated with a chemical emulsion layer, and an image was then exposed directly onto the metal. All of these examples have rough, uneven edges and no cases. Two are inscribed that they were taken at the “Wellington Fair,” and given their overall similarities, I have to wonder if all five were.

Carrie W.B. Vischer at Fair ferrotype

Undated ferrotype etched on reverse, “Carrie T. Vischer | W. B. Vischer | Wellington Fair.” Object measures approximately 5″ L x 7″ W.

Carriage scene ferrotype

Undated, unidentified ferrotype, possibly taken at the Wellington Fair. Object measures approximately 2 1/2″ L x 3 1/2″ W.

Mary Vischer Margarete Hall 1909 at fair ferrotype

Ferrotype enclosed in paper sleeve. Marked “Mary Vischer & Margarete Hall abt 1909. Wellington Fair.” Object measures approximately 3 1/2″ L x 2 1/2″ W.

Geo Foot & Cet ferrotype

Undated ferrotype etched on reverse, “Geo. Foot & Cet.” Object measures approximately 4″ L x 2″ W.

Two women unknown ferrotype

Undated, unidentified ferrotype. Object measures approximately 2 1/4″ L x 1 3/4″ W.

The next object is also metal, though not a photograph. I have never seen anything like it. It is a small metal card, in a paper envelope addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. S. D. Terry.” Sidney D. Terry (1849-1922) and his wife, Mary E. Terry (1849-1940) are buried in Greenwood Cemetery. The card itself is a metal invitation to a party, a tenth wedding anniversary party to be precise. The tenth is the “tin” anniversary in popular tradition, and the metal card fits that theme. Though the reflective metal is difficult to scan or photograph, it reads: “1868. 1878. Mr. & Mrs. F. W. Bennett, Request Your Presence At the Tenth Anniversary of their Wedding, Friday, October 4, 1878, at Eight O’Clock.”

Bennett Anniversary

Metal party invitation, 1878. Object measures 3″ L x 5″ W.

These last two images are both of children. One is a photograph of Sadie Vischer by William Sawtell, the other an unidentified toddler taken by someone called Saunders. I find them both unusual–and terribly sweet. Sadie Vischer has a lovely dog in her image, which must have been very well behaved to sit perfectly still for the exposure time of the portrait. The toddler (possibly named George) is digging into a waste paper basket and surrounded by a floor of crumpled sheets, a perfectly ordinary daily scene that I have never seen reproduced in a nineteenth-century photograph.


Undated William Sawtell photograph of “Sadie Vischer” and her dog. Object measures 6 1/2″ L x 4 1/4″ W.

Baby w:waste basket

Undated image by Saunders of Wellington. Inscribed on reverse, “From George to Moma.” Object measures 6 1/2″ L x 4 1/4″ W.

I am so grateful to the family custodians who have preserved these marvelous glimpses into the past. I hope you have enjoyed looking at them as much as I have. I will be donating the materials to the local history collection of the Herrick Memorial Library, so that the family’s generosity may be shared by all.

Depth Perception

Union School Stereoview 1870-79

Stereograph, “UNION SCHOOL, WELLINGTON, O.,” [1870-1879] measuring 3 7/8″ L x 7″ W.

I recently acquired this marvelous black and white stereograph depicting the Union School in the nineteenth century. Stereographs were created for use in stereoscopes. If you ever played with a View-Master as a child, you have used a modern stereoscope. The stereograph features two copies of the same image mounted side-by-side on heavy card stock, and gazing at it through the lenses of the stereoscope gives the viewer a three-dimensional perception of the scene.

Though this card is undated, it notes that the image was produced while Watson R. Wean (1843-1927) was superintendent of the Wellington school system. Wean served from September 1870 until June 1879. The Union School was completed in 1868, making this one of the earlier images ever captured of it. It is also unique among initial depictions of the school in that it includes the students and staff, lined up outside the building and also sitting in all the windows of both the first and second floors.

In addition to his career in education, Watson Wean served as mayor of the village in the 1880s. It was during his tenure that our present Town Hall was built. He was involved in several profitable ventures, including becoming a partner in cheese (and later vegetable) export firm Horr-Warner in 1887, at which point his name was added to make it Wean, Horr, Warner & Company. Wean lived on South Main Street, next door to business associate Sidney Warner, having erected a magnificent residence there in 1878. In 1899, the widowed Wean married Warner’s daughter, popular local teacher Orrie Louisa Warner. She was forty-five at the time of her marriage, and had led a fascinating life of her own, including being the personal guest of First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes during the 1881 inauguration of her husband’s successor, President James A. Garfield. The Weans and the Warners remain side-by-side to this day in Greenwood Cemetery.

Given the possible date range of the image, I found myself wondering whether William Sawtell was its photographer. That thought tickled a memory of having read something connecting Sawtell to exterior photography of buildings. After searching my files, I located this notice in the Wellington Enterprise: “–Mr. Sawtell has engaged A. K. A. Liebich a Cleveland artist to visit Wellington the coming spring and make stereoscopic views of some of our residences, public buildings and principal points of interest in and about our village. He will also make large size photographs of dwellings suitable for framing. He is an artist of acknowledged ability and has done much of the finest work in that line in the city of Cleveland. Specimens may be seen by calling at Mr. Sawtell’s room and orders left for work. It will pay you to examine the work [even] if you do not want any done and Mr. Sawtell will take pleasure in showing any one who may call for that purpose” (12-19-1878, pg. 3). I was not able to find any confirmation that Liebich–whose work is now held in such notable collections as the Getty Museum–visited Wellington in the spring of 1879. The stereograph itself is marked “Smith & Co.’s | Oberlin, O.” It seems clear that stereographic photography was considered a separate skill set from studio portrait photography, and William Sawtell did not create this image.

The stereograph seems to me a poetic visual metaphor for historical research. At first glance, it seems simple, perhaps almost to the point of being unknowable. But it provokes questions in us, encouraging us to look more deeply into its subject. The more we probe and the deeper we sink, the wider the world we perceive and the more sharply everything comes into focus.