Treasures

Early nineteenth-century volumes from a private collection. Photo by author.

Early nineteenth-century volumes from a private collection. Photo by author.

For me, one of the greatest joys of writing this blog has been connecting with other people interested in the history of Wellington. I am particularly fond of studying material culture, so I was delighted when I was recently allowed to examine some artifacts from the village’s past. The owners of the objects have graciously allowed me to share them with you.

The two volumes pictured at the top of the post are both nineteenth-century imprints. Each bears an inscription by an early Wellington settler. The smaller of the two is a lovely, leather-bound 1834 psalter, small enough to fit comfortably within my hand. It was once owned by Mathew DeWolf, who journeyed here from Massachusetts in 1827. By the 1830s, he owned and operated a “temperance tavern” (i.e. an alcohol-free public house) at what is now the corner of North Main Street and East Herrick Avenue. His building may have been used as an early house of worship. Perhaps this psalter played some role in that.

Inscription by "M. DWolf - Wellington, Ohio" on the endpaper of an 1834 "Psalms of David." Private collection. Photo by author.

Inscription by “M. DWolf – Wellington, Ohio” on the endpaper of an 1834 “Psalms of David.” Private collection. Photo by author.

The larger volume is an earlier imprint than the psalter, but also a religious text. The Journal of the Rev. Francis Asbury, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church was lengthy enough to be issued in three volumes; this third volume was printed in New York in 1821. It belonged to Dr. Daniel Jay Johns. When twenty-one-year-old Johns emigrated to this area in 1818, it was wilderness; by the time he died in 1886, the three-story brick Town Hall and Opera House was being dedicated. Much of that urban development is often attributed to Johns’ role in securing a railroad line through Wellington in the late 1840s.

Inscription by "Dr. D. J. Johns" on the endpaper of  an 1821 "Journal of the Rev. Francis Asbury." Private collection. Photo by author.

Inscription by “Dr. D. J. Johns” on the endpaper of an 1821 “Journal of the Rev. Francis Asbury.” Private collection. Photo by author.

Finally, this lovely little bureau, bearing modern pulls but otherwise in excellent condition, is an example of Wellington furniture production. It is a product of the Couch cabinet factory, which began operation on South Main Street in the 1840s and was in business until at least the end of the century. I recently found a notice in The Lorain County News which reads, “A. G. Couch has the contract to furnish furniture for our hotel. We are not informed of the amount required, but it is to be all new throughout” (8-6-1868, pg. 3). I wonder if looking at this bureau is giving me visual clues as to the style and decor of the American House in the late 1800s.

Small bureau made by Couch cabinet factory. Private collection. Photo by author.

Small bureau made by Couch cabinet factory. Private collection. Photo by author.

The piece is signed in graphite on the reverse. Since Albert G. Couch’s son, (future Wellington mayor) George L. Couch, did not officially join the family business until about 1875, the fact that both men’s names are included in the attribution suggests that this piece postdates that transition.

Inscription "A. G. & G. L. Couch, Wellington, Ohio" on reverse of bureau. Private collection. Photo by author.

Inscription “A. G. & G. L. Couch, Wellington, Ohio” on reverse of bureau. Private collection. Photo by author.

So start sleuthing around your houses, Wellington! Look on the bottoms of furniture pieces and the backs of ceramics, and check old books and photographs. The Couches and Sawtells and Tissots of this town were producing objects for decades; those items must still be here in our attics and basements. If anyone has any treasures they would like to share, I would love to have you post a comment.

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