“19th-Century Wellington” is an exploration of the people and landmarks that made up this rural Ohio town during its first decades. My intent is to share the information I have gathered through years of personal research, and hopefully connect with others who are engaged by the topic.

©19th-Century Wellington, 2013-2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to 19th-Century Wellington with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the Author:

Nicole M. Hayes has fifteen years’ work experience in museums and archives, and has been employed by organizations including Harvard University, Plimoth Plantation, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and the National Museum of Ireland. Hayes received her master’s degree in American history and historical archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. A native of Massachusetts, she currently lives with her family in Wellington, Ohio.


64 thoughts on “About

  1. Donna Clodwick-Ewell

    I love your articles. I have been interested in my family history for a long time. I haven’t done much research lately. Your stories have me interested again. I have Clifford, Howk, and Mead’s in the Clodwick side of my family. Thank you for inspiring me to start searching again. Donna

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write that! You don’t know how timely it is for me. I have been debating whether to keep going with the blog, since it is a great deal of work to research and write each entry, and at times I have wondered if I was the only one reading it! Thank you for sending positive vibes my way and inspiring me to keep going!

      1. Karin Hootman

        I have just discovered your blog and find it extremely interesting! I did a google search for the “history of Magyar Street in Wellington, Ohio” and your blog was in the list. Do you have any information on why this street was named Magyar Street? My ancestry goes back to the Magyars of Hungary according to a census notation from my great grandmother. They immigrated to the Cleveland area. When I came across the name of this street, my curiosity was piqued.

      2. Armchair Historian Post author

        Thank you for reading! It is an interesting question about Magyar Street, and one I do not know the answer to off the top of my head. I can tell you that the street was already so-named by at least 1852, when it is labelled on a plat map of the village. I also have an 1857 map of the town that shows it as Magyar. If I can find anything else out, I will post it. I am not aware of any Hungarian community in Wellington, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one here.

      3. Armchair Historian Post author

        Karin, I have been thinking a bit about your question. My inclination is to guess that the street was named after someone living on it early in the town’s history (pre-1850). There are still Magyars living in Pittsfield and Elyria, so that seems to me the likeliest possibility. A check of the early tax records might confirm or refute that theory. As an aside, there are a number of other streets in the village that were also named after early residents–Adams, DeWolf, Johns, Dickson, etc. Without further investigation I could not definitively say that the name has nothing to do with Hungarian history/culture, but it seems implausible to me.

  2. Joshua

    I was surprised to find a Wellington history blog while searching for resources relating to an article I’m writing regarding the schisms of First Congregational Church in 1843 and again in 1852.

    If you’d like, I’d love to compare notes. You can see my senior thesis, which dealt heavily with Wellington and compared religious thought in the town to Oberlin and Elyria. It can be found on my portfolio at http://jfahler.weebly.com.

    Contact me through that page if you’d like to collaborate on a post. I made a post long ago, but my blog now is mostly about travel in Asia. Here is my now ancient post – maybe it could be re-written and re-posted on your site?

    Blog: http://www.joshintaiwan.com
    Post: http://joshintaiwan.com/2010/04/14/wellington-free-congregational-church/



  3. Guy Wells

    Wonderful to learn of your blog. We live only blocks apart, but I got word of it from China (cf. previous post by Josh). There’s much we should talk about and share (for starters, my great-grandparents–Levi and Mary Stemple–were also innkeepers at the American House in the 1890s). For now, though, this “best wishes” will have to suffice.
    Happy Holidays,
    Guy Wells,
    Wellington, Ohio

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      Mr. Wells, it is a pleasure to connect with you. After I began exchanging messages with Joshua, I was trying to figure out how to arrange an introduction with you! I would be very interested to know if you have run across any information about Noah Huckins in your own resources? And it would be my honor to meet with you, perhaps after the holidays?

  4. Jack Siffert

    Thank you very much for the blog post. You are welcome to contact me about helping with the cause. We are actively looking for all help we can get. My name is Jack and I am the president of the Lake Shore Railway Association and the one who is responsible for trying to bring this event together. Hopefully I will just be a small part of a large effort to make this a once in a lifetime event. With everyone’s help it will be.

      1. dean

        I have an old brick house on west rd. I do not know how old it is or the history of it. It sits out by itself. It’s a two story south of 303. The outbuildings are falling down and it is on a small hill across from Caley park, up the street on other side.

  5. Kyle

    What a fascinating blog. I love historic Ohio, particularly small towns. I had a strange experience the one time I was in Wellington. I went there on a sunday drive in the fall of 1995 and went to eat at the only restaurant listed in the AAA Ohio tour book. We got there and the restaurant was closed down, but the tables were all set (ketchup and everything). It had a classic small town diner look to it. I asked around to see what happened and find somewhere to eat, but was only told it was tragic and not to ask. 20 years later I am still curious. Any insights into my vague tale of mystery?

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      Thank you very much. I am sorry, but I really don’t know the answer to your restaurant question. I asked a few local folks and no one I spoke with could recall anything particularly tragic happening in the mid-1990s. You don’t by any chance recall where in town the place was, or it’s name?

  6. newcrazytown

    This is the most fascinating blog I’ve read to date. Every installment is a highlight of my reading week. Thank you so much for providing this great pleasure that I take in reading your work.

  7. Patricia Bolt

    I was just reading your story about the icehouse and the making of the pond by Charles Horr on what is probably Montrose Way. I live at 439 Courtland St. I would love to know more about our house and the land. All I know is the front of the home faces the Forest St. extenaion. In 1960, that must have been woods and it was done for the view.
    Thanks for your informative stories!

    1. Guy Wells

      If my Google Maps search is right, 439 Courtland is the southern driveway of two that lead to homes tucked in behind the regular line of homes on the East side of the street. Assuming that’s your home, it’s a few years older than you think. In 1959-1960, it was occupied (owned?) by M/M Virgil Peterson, to whom I delivered the Cleveland Press. At the time, it seemed nearly new, and the other set-back house (until recently Molly Adams-Kunz) had not yet been built. It may later have been re-oriented to face North toward Forest St., but in 1960 it had a front door & porch facing South. At the time, Forest St. extension was unpaved and only went 3 or 4 houses south from Dickson St.–nowhere near the Peterson’s. The Grand Ave extension had only just begun to develop, so the Peterson’s had a pretty secluded homesite. Hope this helps.

      PS–checking the county auditor’s record for your home, I wonder if the home has been added to since it was first built. (Their YOC is 1957.) I remember it as a simple rectangle, but it’s been more than a few years.

  8. Patricia Bolt

    Thank you, Mr. Wells for this info! I thought 437 (owned by Molly Adams) was built before ours. You are correct about the size of the house. It was a rectangle. I think the garage may have been added later. The front of the home definitely was facing north, towards Forest St. We have tried to improve the back of the home, since you see that first as you come up the drive. How could I find out past owners? I only know I (and my husband at that time) purchased it from Mike and Becky Young in 1985. I believe it was built by Giles Anderson, along with several others in the area. I’d love to know the history of how that area (Grand Ave extension, Montrose Way, Pleasant St) developed.
    In the late 1800’s, how far south did Courtland St go?

  9. Armchair Historian Post author

    Ms. Bolt: To learn about the past owners of your house, you have to do what is called a “chain of deed.” I wrote a little bit about the process–and some of the other resources available for local research–in a very early post called “Starting from Scratch.” You can search that title in the blog search box, or click the August 2013 sidebar link and scroll through the topics. Basically, you go to the county Recorder’s Office in Elyria with your address–and preferably your parcel number(s)–and you manually trace the chain of sales back until the time when the house was first built.

    Once you have owner names you can also look at the county tax records, which are available in hard copy in Elyria or are digitized (pre-WWII, I believe) and publicly available online. I included the link to the tax website in the post I mention above.

    The Wellington Genealogy Group is currently digitizing the Village Council records, which include information like votes to incorporate additions of land around town and lay out/name streets. We are still working with the materials dating pre-WWI at present. Another source of information would be “The Wellington Enterprise,” available on microfilm and in hard copy via the library and historical society. The library also holds several atlases, including the 1896 “Atlas and Directory of Lorain County, Ohio,” which would show you the configuration of the town at different times. (I happen to have a copy of the 1896 and it shows Courtland ending at Pleasant Street.) I believe that the subdivision you are interested in was added in the twentieth century, so I personally don’t know much about the development of that section of town.

  10. Guy Wells

    I’d echo Armchair’s advice about using the title office, with the caveat that it’s easy to be tempted by the array of research possibilities the Recorder’s archives offer and start following a dozen other lines of inquiry too. Sometimes tunnel vision is a good thing. To check on whether there’s a list or other info. on things built by Giles Anderson, you might try contacting his daughter, who still lives in town. Check with me directly for contact info.

  11. Patricia Bolt

    This evening, I took my walk in the cemetery, as I have done many times. It was so exciting to see the names of the people I have been reading about all week. Thank you!

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      That is one of my favorite pastimes, too! I wish there was a way that I could key a map of the cemetery to the individual stories, in case someone reading is looking for a particular person. Thanks again for your interest in the blog!

  12. stuart bradley

    I wrote a blog entry about the connection between the Howk family and the Bradley family and gave you credit with a link to your blog. I hope you are OK with it. I will probably add a little more material to the entry in the next couple of days. Thanks.

  13. Lee Hawkins

    Hi Nicole,

    I just want to say that the articles I’ve read here are excellent! I think someone shared a link to your post about McCormick Middle School’s impending demolition…I really hope you got to connect with someone like Calvin Woods to check out the old building. I was just there on Friday afternoon photographing aspects of the building, including the roof (which shows what is left of the sheet metal ornamentation on the top of the old Union School), the cafeteria, the auditorium (a 1930s WPA project…and also something sad to see go), the Roar Room (below the auditorium basketball court, and a fallout shelter), and a few shots inside the corridors. I need to go back next week and shoot more, provided I can fit it into my schedule and the school’s. I attended McCormick in the late 80s/early 90s, and graduated from WHS in 1996 (and actually I had Ms. Bolt for three years of Deutschklasse!) and even though school was something I didn’t enjoy thoroughly, I hate to see such a wonderful historic structure go down so unceremoniously after nearly 150 years of service.

    The good thing, though, is that the school will be somewhat immortal, however, as the photos I’m shooting of McCormick are spherical panoramas (please check out my website to see some examples). This means I will be able to create a virtual tour that will be publicly available on my website.

    I also wanted to help identify the likely restaurant in the AAA travel guide from the 1990s…it was probably the Wellington Inn, which was in the building just north of where Bob King Realty now is (which was originally the post office) and just south of the old Oberlin Savings Bank building, which I now believe is the Lor-Met Credit Union. I have no idea what’s in there now, as I live in North Olmsted now and don’t get to Wellington often.

    I too also never knew all you have found about the opera house. It’s a shame that history has overall been vastly ignored and uglified for “practical purposes” in Northern Ohio. A gym is nowhere near as special or useful as the opera house sounded to have been. And there is a pretty nice auditorium at McCormick Middle School that the community is also losing that would function nicely as a performing arts center with some TLC. Alas…money is always short and memories even shorter… It’s a shame…

    But keep up the excellent work on the blog! You have a new fan here!

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      Thanks so much for the message! I would love to see your images of the building’s roof. If you are willing to share one or two of your best shots, I would be happy to post them here–fully credited, of course–for all to enjoy. Let me know if you are interested and I’ll PM you.

  14. Jim Benedict

    I stumbled upon this blog by accident while researching the “Benedict’s Block” building. Very interesting (and detailed) information. My lineage contains: Clifford, Peirce (NOT Pierce!), Perkins (by marriage), Benedict (direct), Waite, Yoxtheimer, Andrews, Brown, Wickenden (and I’m sure more that tie in to Wellington history somehow!). I do have some old ‘family reunion’ photos but unfortunately not many of the individuals are identified. I look forward to further readings on your blog!!!

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      Thanks for reaching out! I love it when people stumble upon the blog while researching their own family history–that is precisely why I started putting all this information online. Happy hunting!

      1. Dennis Thompson

        I am another area historian working mostly on my family’s history in Elyria, but I get involved in many other topics in Lorain County. I have been researching abandoned bridges in the county and have been doing field work photographing sites around Wellington when I came across your blog. Love it! I have been catching up with your archives as I have the time, and I came across your question of the location of the original town hall. The 1874 county atlas photo you printed shows it on the west side of the street, a real puzzle, and one naturally wonders if they had not updated it from the original location. But the 1857 county map, which is closer to the 1846 date of the second town hall, (it is very hard to locate a good copy) shows it where you would expect, on the east side, several buildings south of the hotel. No old public building is indicated across the street If you could send me your email, I do have some links and scans you may be interested in.

  15. Armchair Historian Post author

    Funnily enough, Dennis, I just recently solved that particular mystery. There were four Town Halls, one of which was housed in the “Free” Congregational Church on the opposite side of South Main Street. If you look up the “Town Hall” post and scroll down to the bottom, you will find the complete update. And thanks for the kind comments!

  16. Betty Derrer

    I just came across your blog, and so enjoyed reading about my former home town of Wellington. Its been over 30 years since I resided there, but it lives on in my heart. I think my father was the only Albanian who ever lived in Wellington! His name was John Shakir, and he operated the Queen Restaurant for over 50 years. Virginia Willard wrote a very lovely story about him for the Wellington Enterprise, I believe in 1976. Many summer nights, after the restaurant closed for the evening, my dad would walk with me to the park, where I would “entertain” him singing and dancing in the arch the Town Hall. I guess that was my little Opera House.
    I also attended first grade through 12th grade at Wellington high school between the years of 1956 and 1969. I’m so glad that my sweet school lives on in my heart, and I’m not forced to watch it picked apart bone by bone until it is nothing more than a memory.
    Again, thank you for your blog, and for keeping Wellington past alive in people’s hearts.

    Betty Derrer

  17. Jim Kissinger

    I have been working with information for several years now on Wellington families.. My late wife is a direct descendent of the Tripps and the Vischers from Wellington in the 1800’s I have numerous pictures of them and other citizens of Wellington.. have donated quite a bit to the Spirit of 76 museum but have so much more.. including numerous documents on different land holdings by these families and others dating from the mid-1800’s to early 1900’s… I need to find someone who would be interested in having these, as I need to find a home for more of this information. Jim Kissinger, Fullerton, CA

  18. Village of Wellington

    Looking for a line drawing of the town hall would you happen to have one or can you point me in the right direction?

  19. Stan Williams

    This is a beautiful website. The work and the artistry are apparent. Wellington and Huntington live in my mind as that good place from which my great grandparents came to Louisiana. The strong women and men of that familial line have influenced Louisiana for the better. I have an 1860’s portrait photograph album to share with you – several are of folks you may know.

      1. Stan Williams

        I am two weeks into this project, it is a rough draft. How can I send you a link? I would like to do more corrections and get some input on crediting Internet sources. And then open it to any and all.

  20. Kelly

    Good morning! I have just started working on a life history for my 97-year old grandmother. She grew up in Wellington, OH and I came across your blog while searching for pictures of Wellington during her childhood. She is a bit later than your focus on 19th century, having been born in 1920, but I do plan on spending some time reading your posts to see if I can find connections to some of the landmarks she mentioned. Her parents met at the elevator, which is what I was originally searching for.

    I’m also a W&M grad, so we are tied in more ways than one. I’d love to get in touch at some point as I delve into her story!

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      Welcome, Kelly! All are welcome, but especially W&M grads, haha! A few of my posts do run over into the 20th century, but not a huge number. I would encourage you to take a look at the “Online Resources” tab, however, as many of those (free) materials do run well into the 1900s. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. If you do not live in this area and need help with any photographs or obtaining any documents, just give a shout.

      1. Kelly

        Somehow, I’m just now seeing your reply! Thanks for the response! She has mentioned the old fairgrounds several times, since I guess they were just down the street from her house on Herrick Avenue. Have you come across any pictures of the fairgrounds? I was also looking for pictures of the Farmers Mill and Grain Company Elevator.

  21. Armchair Historian Post author

    Here is the link to a thumbnail page for the Wellington Family Album collection, held by the Herrick Memorial Library: https://wellington.lib.oh.us/WFAthumbnails.html

    You can search the image description text by using the “Find” function on your computer. (It’s under “Edit” on my Mac.)

    If that doesn’t turn anything up, you might contact the Spirit of ’76 Museum to ask if they have what you are looking for in their image collection.

    You might also post queries to a couple of Wellington-centric FB pages: 1) Memory Lane, Wellington, Ohio or 2) Wellington’s Front Porch. Both welcome submissions from followers and reach about 5,500 people around the country.

    Happy hunting!

  22. cori craciunescu

    After 1848 revolution in Hungary many Magyars or Hungarians came to America and found a new home around these areas. I walked the street but nobody knows anything about why the street was named after the Hungarians.

  23. James R. Stettner

    The organ at the Congregational Church which burned in 1895 was built by A.B. Felgemaker of Erie, PA. as his opus 419 ca. 1880. The organ that replaced it in the new edifice was built by J.W. Steere & Son of Springfield, Mass. as their Opus 417 in 1896.

  24. Dick Barbe

    I read your piece about the WWI Armistice and your speculation from the ads about the possible celebration. When I was in high school (c.1949-1950) I was hired as “secretary” and driver for Harry Otterbacher whose family had, first, the livery stable and, then, moved into farm machinery sales. That summer he had me drive him to visit family and friends in southeastern Ohio. While the old men chatted I had nothing to do but listen. One of the stories I overheard took place in one of Wellington’s watering holes on Armistice Day. According to the story several of the local businessmen, including Harry, were sitting at the bar when another of their group came in — I once knew who this was, but I have long forgotten the name. As he approached the seated men they told him they were toasting all of allies and he was 8 allies behind. So he told the barkeep to set him up 8 shots and he downed them in sequence and announced that he was caught up and they could continue with their toasts.

  25. roblinsenmeier

    My great great grandfather was Reuel Lang, one of the early pioneers of Huntington, and my grandfather was his youngest son, Merrill Warner Lang, whose brother-in-law was C.W. Horr. M.W. worked for Horr & Warner and was also on the city council for many years in the late 1800s. As I try to learn about the Lang family, I have read a lot on your blog, which is great. However, I have not run across any reference to what kind of cheese they made in Lorain County. Was it mostly some single type, like cheddar, or did they make many different kinds? Thanks!

    1. Armchair Historian Post author

      Hello and thanks for the question! In an advertisement in the “Wellington Enterprise” in October 1867, J.C. and C.W. Horr advertised that they were wholesale dealers of “Factory, Cheddar, English, Dairy Hamburg and Western Reserve Cheese.” I would also direct your attention (if you have not already seen it) to the scholarly article published in 1958 by Frank Van Cleef entitled, “The Rise and Decline of the Cheese Industry in Lorain County.” It has been a while since I read it, but it may very well reference specific types of cheeses produced. I hope this helps!

      Link: https://resources.ohiohistory.org/ohj/browse/displaypages.php?display%5B%5D=0069&display%5B%5D=32&display%5B%5D=57

      1. roblinsenmeier

        Thanks! I have the van Cleef article, but I do not think he tells us either. I wonder what factory cheese and Western Reserve cheese are? Newspapers.com only has the Enterprise starting in 1879, which has hampered a little of my research.

        If you are interested, I could send you the piece I am writing about Reuel and Amy Hart Lang and their children, including my great grandfather, who was the youngest. At some point I have to go back to learn more about Reuel’s and Amy’s ancestors. Both families go back to the 1630’s in America. You can find my email address at Northwestern University if you want to follow up.

      2. Armchair Historian Post author

        I would be very interested! RE: the “Wellington Enterprise,” I can account for that situation. The newspaper began in 1867 but the issues from 1867 to 1879 are all those on the *first* reel of microfilm produced of the paper. The images are darker, with more losses and missing dates, and apparently when the reels were digitized for “Chronicling America” (the Library of Congress newspaper website) they skipped–or opted not to–digitize Reel #1. From 1879 on is the clearer, more legible issues that start on reel 2. 🙂

  26. Brendan

    When did the railroads arrive in town? How many stations were there total, and how many remain? I noticed at least one downtown.

  27. Hope McCaffrey

    Hello! Thank you for sharing your research and writing on this blog — it is such an incredible resource. I am a PhD student in history at Northwestern University and for the las year or so have been working with several other members of Northwestern’s community on designing an online exhibit for the Colored Conventions Project (an educational digital resource highlighting Black activism and abolitionism in the nineteenth century). Our group is creating a site dedicated to African American life in Illinois in the 1850s, including the Illinois Black Laws and the Convention held in Chicago (1853). During our research, we came across your post, “The Colored Orator of World Wide Reputation,” which includes information about and an image of Robert J. Robinson. I am writing to inquire about the source of that image and if you know whether it would be possible to include it (with proper credit) in our online exhibit. We greatly appreciate your time and consideration!

  28. Douglas Howk

    Received a copy of “Fully Equal to the Situation” ; and was pleasantly surprised that the first chapter is “into the wilderness” about Granny Dean. Her story is a tantalizing glimpse into the life of a “free person of color” in a pioneer environment. The story raises several questions: Why did she remain with the Howk family after being freed? Was it fear of kidnapping back into slavery while living near a slave state (New York)? Did that fear continue even when relocated to Wellington? As the only Black person in the Wellington area, did she play a role in the Underground RR? Since women had very restrictive rights to property well into the 19th Century, was the confusion about “Master” or Mistress’ servant less consequential as to her early history? And where was she buried?
    Thank you very much for this informative blog.

  29. Karen Wright

    Hello – I enjoyed your Sawtell photos and read several of your blogs. I have recently been going through and digitizing my father-in-law’s photos. Franklyn Wright bought out several photographers here in Wellington and the local area. I have three from Sawtell as well as some from Althaus, Williams (Crosier Block), Hoyt, and a few “penny pictures”. I have many photos of Wellington and the local area including Brighton, Pittsfield, Elyria, and Cleveland. I would be happy to share if you’re interested.

    I noticed the Vischer photos – In the 1880 Wellington Census William Vischer, age 42 lives on South Main Street with his wife Etta M. age 32, son Bentley W. age 17, daughters Lillian E. age 12, and Sadie age 7 (I’m sure you’ve already got this info)

      1. Karen Wright

        No identification ☹ Below are descriptions of each.

        • 4-1/4″ wide x 6-1/2″ high; edges shiny gold
        Nothing on back; script “Sawtelle,” left corner; block “WELLINGTON, OHIO.” right corner
        Woman with center part, hair pulled back tightly to head; stand-up lace under collar, button-up, pin at neck

        • 4-1/4″ wide x 6-9/16″ high
        Back (upside down) from front; Pink paper, Scroll inside roses border – script “W. F. Sawtell, Wellington, Ohio.” – 3 lines
        Photo of man with beard – no mustache; jacket top button only buttoned

        • 4-1/4″ wide x 6-1/2″ high
        Back: All-over vines of flowers. Name on ribbons across a crisscross branch design with camera and artist palette-brushes in center. Font is a serif type, possibly Bodoni. Sawtelle. Photographer Wellington. Ohio.
        Photo of older woman with hair pulled tightly to head, button up dress with mandarin-type collar. Satin sewn-in lapels and collar; buttons appear to be different at top; bar pin at collar.
        white “clergy-type” collar under satin collar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s