I haven’t posted in a few days, but I found this advertisement for a seasonal cottage rental in The Wellington Enterprise and wanted to share. This is the first instance I can recall of a photographic image reproduced in the newspaper as part of a local ad. The house itself was not in Wellington, but in Vermilion, a town about twenty-five miles north on Lake Erie. The text of the ad is wonderfully evocative of certain American summer traditions. I picture lace curtains blowing in a gentle breeze while I am reading it.
The explosion in U.S. domestic tourism in the decades following the Civil War–made possible in part by the rapid expansion of the (mainly northern) economy and transportation infrastructure–has been written about extensively. I love the fact that individual rooms in this house could be rented for $0.50 per day, and that “meat, milk and provision wagons” were circling the neighborhood looking for customers, like modern-day ice cream trucks. Note also that female renters were “expected to care for their own rooms,” presumably even those traveling with their families, but men traveling alone were assured that their rooms would be cleaned, apparently at no additional charge.
Linwood Park, founded as a religious community in 1884, still exists today. I wonder if this particular house is standing. If so, it just celebrated its 119th birthday. Should any readers happen to be from Vermilion, I would appreciate it if you would post if you recognize the property. I would love to see it in person.
I am presently researching five future entries. I have also been doing quite a bit of work on the Council records project I mentioned in an earlier post. The Wellington Genealogy Group is considering various platforms for sharing the records digitally, and has just embarked on a website redesign to expand its online offerings. The group recently joined Facebook, as well. If you have enjoyed reading this blog and would like to learn more about the stories of your own family members, please consider attending a meeting.
UPDATE: I was able to track down a book called Through These Gates: Linwood Park. It was published in 1984 to celebrate the centennial of the community. The text is more than two hundred pages long and has no index, but I found an appendix listing all the individual cottages with their builders and years of construction (pgs. 177-181). I found three separate street listings with “George Matcham” noted as the builder, on Linden, Walnut, and Ash Streets. Curiously, all three had two years of construction listed, and in every case the later year was 1910.
Working backward, I learned that all three properties were destroyed in the same catastrophic fire, which tore through the eastern side of Linwood on April 1, 1910. At least two references to Matcham are in the text. Page 78 notes: “George and Emma Matcham were particularly active in this period, having built four cottages on the east side between 1894 and 1903.” Then on page 80, a description of the fire states: “Three of the four Matcham cottages were among those burned. Goetz, Matcham and Cora Sherod rebuilt their cottages that year.” Based on its suggested construction date of 1894 (the listing cautions that dates “may be off by 1 or 2 years”), I believe that the house shown above likely stood at 406 Ash Street, but was destroyed by fire fifteen years later.
I also found a cemetery listing for George Matcham in Pittsfield’s East Cemetery, which includes his photograph. I have not seen Matcham’s obituary personally, but this page states, “According to his obituary, he invested in lots at Linwood park on Lake Erie and helped to develop the resort. He built several cottages there and had spent his summers there for several years.” Though the commemorative book credits Matcham’s second wife, Emma, as being his “particularly active” partner in building, he did not marry her until 1907. It would have been his first wife, Marion, who was with him during the initial construction phase and who signed the 1895 advertisement above, “Mrs. M. W. Matcham.”