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Charmer at 131

She’s old, she’s spooky, and she’s got a story! 

Have you ever read someone’s life story and felt like it should be a Lifetime TV movie? That’s how I felt while researching this house!

Let’s begin with the landowner before the house was built: Israel J Richardson, who said he was from New York but was more than likely from Pennsylvania. He was an attorney who was friends with other prominent Delaware landowner Milo Pettibone. Fun fact: Milo named Waldo, Ohio after his son of the same name. Milo died in 1842 and just six years later Israel married Estelle Pettibone… Milo’s daughter. At the time Israel was 54 and Estelle was 19. They had three children, Carlisle (who died as a toddler), Isabella, and Margaret. After Israel died in 1870, Estelle eventually moved with her daughter Isabella and son-in-law Walter Dennison to California. 

The home itself was likely built by Reverend Orin Henricus(!!) Newton of the Second Presbyterian Church of Delaware and his wife Catherine in 1860 after purchasing the lot (presumably) from Richardson in 1856. The Second Presbyterian Church was an offshoot group formed in around 1841 but went back in 1870. Orin was well known throughout the state as an inspiring speaker and devout man of faith, ministering to Union soldiers during a 6-week “vacation” in 1864. By 1873 he was a chaplain at the Ohio Penitentiary, but a calling to Mount Vernon, Ohio would make Orin, Catherine, and their 7 children sell the home in 1875. He would die there in 1878 at age 56 after suffering “paralysis of the heart.” 

In 1875, the home was sold to Henry C. Godman. Yes, the Reverend sold the house to a guy named Godman and for what it’s worth, this guy tried to live up to his name. Henry was a lawyer, businessman, millionaire, and philanthropist, who definitely knew how to make a statement. He only owned the house for 6 years but his story is so bananas I have to share it. At the time he owned the house he and wife Catherine had already lost 2 out of 3 of their children. By the time they sold the property in 1881 they would be completely childless. Henry was already doing well after essentially inheriting his father’s law practice in Marion. He could’ve just retired from law, but he founded the HC Godman Leather Company in Columbus in 1893. Later known as the HC Godman Shoe company, its factories would operate into the 1930s and the Brooks-Godman brand appeared into the 1950s. The shoes they produced were sold all over the country. 

The leather goods business moved Henry and Catherine into Columbus proper (they rented their Delaware home to book, music, stationery, and notion store owner Joseph Lindsey before finally selling). Catherine began getting sick and Henry would hire nurse Cora Flora (I am not making this up) to tend to her until she died in 1901. Having no heirs, Henry, 70, filed papers to adopt Cora (widow, mother of 2, and in her late 30s) before deciding to marry her in 1903. As in, they had to ask the courts to get rid of the adoption paperwork in favor of a marriage license. After Henry died in December of 1907, Cora filled out a passport application in 1908 for herself and her daughters promising to return to the US within two years. I spent a little bit of time digging, but I haven’t found the rest of her story. I like to imagine her sipping beverages at a seaside cafe in the south of France.

Back to the house: John Williams and Alice White purchased the home from the Godmans in 1881. He appears to have bought the home for his mother, Anna C. Williams White (daughter of judge Hosea Williams), after their father’s death (coincidentally, I’ve already researched her sister Margaret’s houses here, here, and here). After getting two degrees from Ohio Wesleyan, John received his PhD from Harvard in 1877 and went on to be a professor of Greek at the college, maintaining residency in Cambridge even after retiring in 1909. His work is still recommended as a resource for learning ancient Greek today (check out this list). Even in retirement he continued his passionate studies of Greek, translating Aristophanes until his death in 1917 (another of his published works can be found here). After his mother died he rented the home to the local Phi Gamma Delta chapter before selling it in 1900.

William Allen Hall, wife Lina, and children Edna and John moved to this house from their previous one a literal 5 minute walk away (which is now an auto repair shop). William was an attorney with an office in (on?) Lamb’s Block on the corner of Sandusky and Winter Streets (above what’s now a coffee shop). This space would later house Main Insurance, operated by Wasley B. Main, whose son, Ernest, built my house. William also served as a member of the Carnegie Library Board. He was the oldest member of the Delaware County Bar when he died of a heart attack at age 80.

The house then passed to his son John M Hall (of Tulsa, Oklahoma) until he sold it in 1941.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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Indigenous History

Picture is of an Ohio meadow full of flowers, yellow in front, with whispy burgundy stretching into a deciduous forest on the horizon.


Before Moses Byxbe was scheming up plans for what he hoped would become the capital city of Ohio, the land had been home to many generations, dating as far back as 12000 BC. Some of the first known natives in the area were the Adena* (800BC-100AD), who are most well known for their construction of sacred earthen mounds [they, or the Fort Ancient* (1000-1750AD) culture, created the Serpent Mound]. In addition to their artistry (check out this Adena/Hopewell pipe), they were known for their agricultural success and thriving trade routes, which connected them to most of the Eastern half of the current United States. Adena culture is seen in many of the native peoples who would come after them, particularly the Hopewell.

The Hopewell* (200BCE-500AD) people were also known builders and artists. At first, they maintained the networks of trade across a sizeable territory which was also used to share news amongst groups. Over time, and for reasons still not entirely clear, they stopped both mound construction and networking; historians suggest that climate factors, advances in warfare technology, and changing agricultural trends may be the cause.

Delaware County was also once home to the Kaskaskia (“he scrapes it off by means of a tool”) culture, part of the Inoca or Illinois* (“the men”), later known as the Illinois Confederation. The Confederation was a group of about a dozen tribes who lived in an area as far South as what is now Arkansas to mid Iowa and up to Lake Michigan. They all spoke the same language (Algonquian) and lived in villages consisting of longhouses and wigwams, though they were still somewhat nomadic. Each village had its own leadership (with one leader uniting all groups/villages), and they thrived as farmers, hunters, and traders. The arrival of Europeans, and the trading between them and Iroquois*  (Haudenosaunee“people of the longhouse”) of firearms for beaver and other furs, would also irrevocably change the landscape and culture. As animal populations dwindled in Iroquois territory, they pushed into others, resulting in the Beaver Wars (1640ish to 1701). This conflict forced the Kaskaskia into Ohio, where they lived with Miami tribes, until colonizers in the 1830’s made them move again following the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. Kaskaskia descendants are part of the Peoria* (Peouaroua) Tribe of Oklahoma, established in 1854.

The Myaamia (Miami*, “The Downstream People”), originated near Lake Michigan, and were closely related to the Illinois in both language and social structure. They were avid agriculturalists and hunters, adeptly using season changes to collect, prepare, and store foods. French records indicate they moved into what is now Western Ohio in the 1720s, having being forced from their original territory by the Beaver Wars. They welcomed other tribes to their land when they were forced off by continual European invaders, but would have to cede the land entirely after several savage attacks imposed by George Washington’s administration in the 1790s, having been promised territory in Indiana (their ancestors continue to work for federal recognition to this day). Ultimately, colonizers would force nearly all of the Myaamia off of this land as well in the 1830s first to what is now Kansas, and later to Oklahoma, where they remain today.  

One of the tribes the Myaamia welcomed was the Lenape (“the grandfathers”), or Delaware*, for which my town/county is named. The name Delaware came from their original territory near the Delaware River, spanning part of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. The name Delaware itself came from the 12th Baron De La Warr, who does not deserve to have his name remembered. An early colonizer, he committed and oversaw atrocities against native peoples like murdering the wife and kids of a Paspahegh chief, burning down Warraskoyack villages, and stealing food

Lenape settlements have been dated to as far back as 6000 years ago in modern Pennsylvania. With genealogical lines focused on the mother’s ancestry, married couples would live near the wife’s family. Divorces among members could be initiated by husband or wife, though she would maintain ownership of the home. Groups would settle to areas for a couple of decades at a time, until farmed land had lost its use, a practice still used today. Lenape were hunters, gatherers, and farmers, with a government made of individual sachems (chiefs) who were equals in decision-making. Common game included everything from deer, rabbit, and fish to turkeys, eagles, and herons. Crops included corn, sunflowers, or gathered food like berries, roots, clams, and eggs. 

Lenape oral history states their grandfatherly title was given by the other Algonquin-speaking peoples as recognition of their status as the oldest to live on the land, and as skilled arbiters, with related peoples living both east and west of the Mississippi River. The Lenape lived in Ohio from the late 1700s until the early 1800s. They were the first tribe to sign a treaty with the newly formed United States government. European and American invaders, disease, war, and false promises of a permanent territory would fracture the culture to many locations across the continent, with members now living in PennsylvaniaNew Jersey, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Ontario (Delaware Six NationsDelaware Nation at Moraviantown). Three of these are federally recognized: Delaware Nation and the Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin, although there are other descendants and state-recognized tribes all over North America.
Honoring a home’s true Hearth Story means going all the way back into history. Get curious about who lived there before the first blueprint sketch was made, before the wagons of settlers arrived looking for farmland and homesites, when colonizers invaded and took by force the homeland of the native peoples.

It can feel uncomfortable, confronting this kind of brutal and heartbreaking history; ugly truth that we want to keep removed from the beautiful memories we have of our homes. 

Sitting with the land’s memories, both good and bad, is the point, I think – I’m definitely still learning. I hope that this territory acknowledgement can start meaningful conversations about the places I love.

Although I have linked some Wikipedia and Ohio History Central articles, much of the nation’s histories I pulled from the tribes’ own websites (when available), which I have endeavored to adequately link above. I am incredibly grateful to have had access to their beautiful and, at times, heartbreaking stories.


If you’d like to learn more about the native peoples who lived near you, check out Native Land.
Asterisks(*) indicate an anglicized or European-derived name.
Additional Resources:
Ohio History Central
Touring Ohio
City of Delaware, Ohio – history
Delaware Nation
Britannica
Moses Byxbe: His Impact and Image, care of Five Colleges of Ohio
Delaware County Historical Society
Encyclopedia Virginia

About Andrea

I love old stuff and a good story.

Picture of me, Andrea, a mid-30s brunette, smiling at the camera in greeting. I'm in a grey sweatshirt with metal studs. The word "hello" appears over my shoulder in a swirling pink font.

I’m Andrea, the heart of My Hearth Story, and I’m so glad you’re here.

Let’s go back in time a bit…

When I was a kid, one of my babysitters was an older woman who would take me to the cemetery. Adult me realizes it was to visit her husband’s grave site, but 4-year-old me just thought the headstones and markers were really, genuinely amazing. When I look at a graveyard I can only think of all the different human experiences laid to rest in one place. I am humbled by the expanse of unique perspectives represented by each stone. I’ve always been drawn to the novelty that each of us has a different story, and so do the places we love. Five states and many moves later, I’m married with a kiddo living in a 110 year old house in my (small) city’s historic district, burrowing down the rabbit holes of old house lore.

Maybe it’s the English major in me, but I have a deep love of a good story. I also have what I’m told is an uncanny ability to find information quickly in a stack of records or online archives. This combination has led to a passion for digging up and sharing the histories of beloved old places and spaces. Connecting others to their home’s story – helping them ‘meet’ the folks who used to walk the same halls – is my privilege.

The most compelling stories are the real ones, and I am out to find them.

The history of my house hasn’t been told in a long time, if it’s ever been told at all. Connecting to the roots of this house (my hearth story, if you will) helps me put down roots of my own. That brings me to you. Your home, the people who have lived in it, the town that it’s in, and the land that it’s on, have a history that is valuable and a story that is worth finding and sharing. When you’re ready, I can help you take a deep dive into your own home’s history. Your hearth story awaits.

EL Main

EL Main’s former fraternity house, which he remodeled. Now the Delaware Women’s City Club

Remember in the beforetimes when you could just go somewhere and walk around and look at stuff? Well, waaaaaaay back when (in 2019) I followed my research trail to the Delaware County Historical Society’s Cryder Historical Center and Reseach Library. It has the wonderful smell of books and some of the most enthusiastic and helpful volunteers you could ask for. I had a general idea of what I wanted to look for and although that quest continues, I was able to page through unscanned collections that I otherwise would never have seen. If you could ever imagine yourself soulfully caressing the pages of history, this is your place. I dream of returning once things are safer! 

I’ve been fortunate to find the original buyer of our lot. EL Main purchased it from Henrie E. Buck in 1906. Buck was the son of one of Delaware’s most prominent families. His father had already sold one plot of land to the city for development. Buck’s Second Addition, as the new area was called, included lots that backed to the Buck orchard. The lot that would host our current home was one of them.

Ernest Leroy Main (or Leroy Ernest, as he’s named in some sources, or “Dutch” as his FIJI brothers called him) was born February 10, 1885 to Wesley and Emma. His dad was an insurance agent with an office at 49 ½ N Sandusky Street (now above The Sydney Collection). Ernest was a special student in college and preparatory classes at Ohio Wesleyan University, which is some kind of mix of high school and college prep, from around 1900 to 1907. He was a member of the Theta Deuteron chapter of Phi Gamma Delta (1908), in which he appeared to be very involved. He is credited as the “architect and contractor” of the house’s remodeling in 1922 (p. 136), which gives me every confidence that he is likely the one who actually built our home (among others). The house, once known as Fairbanks Lodge, still stands in Delaware at 135 N Franklin Street as the Women’s City Club. Of note, another Phi Gamma Delta publication lists him as a real-estate operator (and a member of the class of 1909), and a later OWU publication has him listed as a first year music student in 1916.

Main would buy and sell multiple plots of land in the area. On May 18, 1906, he both bought the lot that would become our home and married a woman named Mary Jo(e). It appears that he rented out the house before moving in with his family for a short time. His connection to OWU’s music program is likely how he met our home’s first occupant, John Bendinger, who lived here in 1908-1909. Main then sold our house in 1913 (shortly after the birth of his 3rd child, and about 4 months after the Great Flood of 1913). Of note, he owned at least two additional lots in the area, so our house is not an only child! Ernest and Mary Jo Main would go on to have 3 daughters, Antoinette, Ernestine, and Mary Jo, the youngest of whom was less than a year and a half old when her mother died in 1914 (a condolence message from his fraternity is published in their national periodical). Ernest moved back in with his parents with his daughters. A 1918 WWI draft card lists him as being a self-employed horticulturalist, and he designed an attachment for a tractor to help farmers avoid damaging the limbs of trees in their orchards in about 1922 (link to bulletin, see pic on p431). In the 1930 census he stated he was an insurance agent at Main Insurance Agency (still living with Wesley and Emma at 126 W Winter St, now the Kappa Kappa Gamma house). But another source has him managing an apple orchard in 1930, assumed to be Buck’s (as he was working in “Buck’s Garden” in 1910). Later he would co-own Main-Cook Garage at 80 E Winter Street, which specialized in both sales and auto repairs. It was located on or near what is now the Delaware County Library

Archival photograph of the Main-Cook Garage in Delaware, Ohio. Photo shows the front edifice with an unknown cleanshaven white man in a black suit and bowler hat standing in front with a vehicle from the time period (perhaps 1930s).
Not sure who this dude is, but isn’t the garage cool?! Thank you to the Delaware Co Historical Society for this awesome pic!

By 1934 he had moved to Neil Avenue in Columbus and was working in insurance, remarried to former telephone operator and divorcee Rowena Au (nee Loomis). In 1942 he was filling out his WWII draft card (at 57 years old) and was working for and living with his father-in-law and boss Wilbur O. Loomis (awkward?!) at Scattergood’s in Mansfield. Eventually he and Rowena traveled the country. Their last stop was in New Mexico before Ernest got sick; he passed away in 1957.

Digging up the history of EL Main presented unique surprises and challenges. With a last name like “Main,” I ran into a lot of false-positives. Did you know there was an EL Main train line? There were also two other Ernest Mains running around Delaware at the same time! At any rate, despite his family having a business that could have probably kept him comfortable for his life, he seemed to bounce around between jobs, and I kept getting this feeling that he never felt really settled. Regardless, I’m very glad he built such a beautiful home for so many families to enjoy.