Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who were the Smiths?

George and Mary Dornberg bought the property from Levi and Hugh Smith. So logically I wanted to know, who were the Smiths? The property is identified as a lot of "Levi R. and Hugh E. Smith's Woodland Park Addition"

I believe both men were descendants of James A. Smith of Pennsylvania, a Berkshire Township, Delaware County, merchant/dry goods grocer. James was first married to Melinda Black and had two sons, Marshall and George W. Levi R. Smith was the son of James A. and his second wife, Elizabeth or "Betsy" and was born January 19, 1858 in Sunbury.

Hugh E. Smith was the son of Marshall Black Smith (November 5, 1837- October 8, 1900) and Elvira Abbie Thrall. He was born on August 6, 1863 in Berkshire Township. So the relationship between Levi and Hugh was cousins, not brothers, as I first suspected.

Another Berkshire Township connection is James A. Gaston, a carpenter who came to work in Columbus at least as early as 1897. Gaston was born in Berkshire Township in 1862 and died in Columbus in 1934. Gaston's name appears on a few Woodland Park deeds, which leads me to believe that he worked with or in conjunction with the Smiths and was more than likely, a builder of one or more of the homes on the street and in Woodland Park. In the 1920 Census, James' occupation (and that of his son, William E.) is listed as house builder.

The first Columbus City Directory listing I can find for Levi is 1888. His occupation is real estate and he was a boarder at 59 Greenwood Avenue.
1662 Neil Avenue

Levi married Emma S. Gaston in Delaware County on March 1, 1882, they had no children. In 1910 they resided at 1662 Neil Avenue. Levi's occupation at this time is listed as real estate. The Neil Avenue house is still standing and is probably familiar to anyone who has spent time on the OSU campus as it is on the SE corner of Neil and 11th Avenues. Levi died of pneumonia January 5, 1913 in Columbus and is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery. At the time of his death his occupation was auto merchant. After Levi's death Emma lived at 1544 Hawthorne Avenue in Woodland Park.

The first listing for Hugh in the Columbus City Directory is in 1891. He is listed as a contractor, residing at 1224 N. High Street.

Checking the 1900 Census, I find Hugh E. Smith, builder, living at 1112 Madison Avenue in Columbus with his wife Ina Z. (nee Gunter) and three children: Lois E., Paul A., and Lloyd Orvil.. That house would have been South of Broad between 21st and S. Ohio Avenue. The family also had a servant, Emma Sensenbrenner.

By 1910, Hugh had relocated to Denver, Colorado and his occupation is "land agent." In 1911, Hugh described his occupation as real estate dealer. That year, he became a member of The Sons of the American Revolution as a descendant of William Cooley of Granville, Massachusetts. More than likely, this was the inspiration for the naming of Granville Street. Next I found Hugh and Ina on the 1914 Colorado Federal Income Tax list.

On October 14, 1919, Hugh married Elizabeth M. Kincaid in Franklin County, Ohio. The 1920 Census shows Hugh living in St. Petersburg, Florida with Elizabeth, Hugh's son Paul and Hugh's mother, Elvira. In 1930 Hugh and Elizabeth have relocated to Phoenix, Arizona and Elizabeth's widowed sister, Nellie Hawkins is living with them.

The Hugh E. Smith Block building, 162 Third Street N
Circa 1904
Hugh and other Columbus men were also investors and directors of the Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western Railway in Texas. The goal was to build an electric traction line, but a steam powered railroad was constructed in 1904. After several mergers, it became part of the Missouri Pacific system in 1924.

From the Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly, July 1909:
So, that's a little more interesting. The Marshall Black Smith and his son Marshall Alexander owned Smith Agricultural Chemical Company, founded in 1895 as Ohio Farmers Fertilizer Company (making over 50,000 tons of fertilizer per year). And they had a new plant on Leonard Avenue in 1903. The original location of the plant is now directly under the I-670 highway.
Smith Agricultural Chemical Company, 1903.
Located where Joyce Avenue would have dead-ended into Old Leonard Avenue
on the South side of the railroad tracks. Just north of the current Saunders Park.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Dornbergs

The Salem (Ohio) Daily News,  March 13, 1896

Woodland Park, Columbus, Ohio 
George Alfred Dornberg, Sr. was born in New York state in March 1857. He was a lifelong railroad employee. He was a chief lineman on the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (PCC & StL) line. A family story says that George was actually born with the surname Inghram and was adopted by the Dornbergs in New York. His father supposedly was a fur trader from England, and his mother was named Elizabeth and was of Irish nobility. I found both Inghrams and Dornbergs in Oswego County, New York, so that may be where he is from, but I could not make any positive connections to George's parents.

Mary Frances, nee Pursel was born in Franklin County May 4, 1861. She was the daughter of Zephaniah Pursel and Louisa (nee) Pursel. She and George married in about 1889. Helen and George had five children, Inghram, Helen, George Jr., and Martha who all would have grown up in the house.

784 Fairwood Avenue
Ingraham Louisa, the eldest child was born in Pennsylvania on October 14, 1890. Inghram was her paternal grandmother's maiden name. Inghram married Joseph F. Diebel in about 1917. In 1920 they lived at 2053 Waldeck Avenue and Joseph was a manager of a tool and die company. In 1930 they lived at 784 Fairwood Avenue with their five children: Harriet, Martha, Barbara, Joseph Jr., and Mary Ellen. Joseph was a then secretary (officer) of the tool works. Inghram lived in Columbus until her death on July 26, 1977.

Helen Elizabeth, born May 13, 1893, married William Anthony Wishon in about 1913. I don't believe that they had any children. They moved to Cleveland before 1920 and they lived at 1741 Wayside Road. Helen traveled by ship to Bermuda in 1953 and Ireland in 1956. William died in 1964 in Murphy, North Carolina. Helen died July 12, 1988, also in Murphy.

In 1900, both Inghram and Helen were sent away to boarding school, the College of Ursuline Sisters in Tiffin, almost 100 miles away from Columbus.

George Jr., born in May 1896 was described as an "idiot" in the 1910 Census. Hard to say exactly what that meant at the time, the Census specified that he did not speak English, read nor write and did not attend school. Obviously he had some challenges. In the book Mount Calvary Cemetery (Columbus, Ohio) by C.L. Miller, I discovered his final resting place, with his maternal grandparents. It is interesting that the caption on the photo in that book states that the Dornbergs were Pittsburgh residents.

I went to Mount Calvary myself to see if I could find the headstone. Not hard to find, it's the only one of its type, a large, flat, slab of white marble, about six inches thick, set up on a sandstone base of about 7-8 inches, very near the center of the cemetery. When I say large, I mean, large slab of stone. Maybe about five by seven feet. Unfortunately weathering and lichen have made the inscriptions harder to read than when Miller took his photo for the book.
Grave of George Albert Dornberg, Jr. and his maternal grandparents at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Martha J. was born in February 1898, so she would have been around 6 years old when the family moved into the house. She married Ronald Edward Van Tassel of Oceana County, Michigan (b. 1898) in about 1926 and they had two children, Joan (1927) and Ronald E. (1928). They lived in Bloomfield, Oakland County, Michigan in 1930 and Ronald died in Flint, Michigan in 1952. Martha died July 1, 1969 in Los Angeles, California. 

Mary, the youngest, was born in May 1900. By 1920 she had moved to Cleveland and is a boarder with the Lehman family at 980 Evangeline Road. Mary is working at a clerk at an electric plant office, which seems to be the same place her sister, Helen is working.

Another tenant in the house in 1910 was Mary's mother, Louisa Pursel. Louisa was a Central Ohio native born in July 1830.  In 1910, supposedly only two of Louisa's six children were still living. She died May 23, 1912.
1896 Columbus City Directory

Unique mantle with cabinet
George is listed in the 1886 Columbus City Directory as rooming at 23 E. Chestnut St. George and Mary did not marry until September 17, 1889. George purchased lot 32 in the Mt. Venon Subdivision in June 1888.

George lived at 389 Lexington Avenue from 1887 until moving into the new house in Woodland Park. I also found George listed in the 1888 Pittsburgh City Directory, residing at 19 Church Avenue and in the 1890 directory at 79 Boyle. I imagine that the Dornbergs specified the fixtures and details in the house, including the fireplace mantle in the master bedroom, an unusual style featuring a built in cabinet.

George and Mary sold the house in the spring of 1920. I wonder if it was hard for them to leave the house and the city they had called home for more than 35 years. From what I gather, they retired and moved to Cleveland, living with their daughter Helen and son-in-law William Wishon. Mary died on April 18, 1935 and George died in 1938.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who lived here?

Woodland Park, Columbus, Ohio 
The amount of historical information online is amazing. Being an amateur genealogist, I am familiar with the research tools, and as part of my house obsession, I wondered who had lived in this house before, even who lived in the neighborhood. The house was probably one of the first in Woodland Park, built in 1904-1905. It would have been upper middle class at the time.

320 Johnson Street
The first family to inhabit the house were the Dornbergs, and they lived there until 1920. The second longest tenants were Ruby Hunt and her daughter Edith who bought the house in 1950. They had been living right around the corner at 320 Johnson Street. I imagine them in my mind as Miss Ruby and Miss Edith. Miss Ruby died in 1983 and Miss Edith later moved to Gilbert, Arizona, selling the house in 2000 before her death July 30, 2005.

Another interesting tenant of the house in the 1920s was the widow Minnie Neustadt and her brood. Her deceased husband Rabbi Neustadt was a big mover-and-shaker in the Indianapolis Jewish community, establishing several Hebrew schools there. It seems that after his death in 1913 and around 1923, the older boys found work in Columbus, either establishing or working on a Jewish newspaper, and this probably was the reason for the family's move from Indianapolis to Columbus.

I'll write more about all these folks and the neighbors as I explore and find out more.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A house you say? What do I need a house for?

Apparently the time has come for me to buy a house. A cheap house, or should I say, value laden? Jewel in the rough? Friends live in Woodland Park and it's supposed to be the next up-and-coming downtown neighborhood for revitalization. I had my eye on one house nearby, but then found the Dornberg house and it captured my imagination. In my price range... I was ready enough that I spoke with a banker to see what I could afford. I moved in mentally before I had even been inside.