Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why Einsel?

Our wait for the Einsel House was a long one. We became aware of the property in January of 2009 but it was August before the sheriff sale where we placed the winning bid on the property, and it was October before we were able to close and take possession.

During the long spring and summer of 2009 I began to research the history of the house. I learned that the land we now own by purchased by John and Elizabeth (Welty) Einsel in 1833. John was born in Maryland in 1799 to Henry and Barbara (Seitz) Einsel. At some point, he moved to Fairfield County, Ohio where he married Elizabeth Welty in the mid 1820’s. John and Elizabeth had three children while living in Fairfield County -–Sarah in 1826, Noah in 1829, and Lydia in 1830. In 1833 they bought the property where our house currently stands, and their fourth child, Henry, was born on this property in October, 1834. An 1880’s biographical sketch of Henry Einsel states in part, “His parents, John and Elizabeth Einsel, natives of Pennsylvania and Maryland respectively, came to this county from Fairfield County, Ohio in 1833, and at once entered upon the pioneer work of developing a farm.” After Henry, John and Elizabeth had two additional children born on this property, Mahala in 1836 and Levi in 1841.

We doubt any of these children were born in our house. The Einsels almost certainly spent their first years on this property in a log cabin, typical for pioneer settlers of this county. Because of the sheer amount of labor involved, the current stone house probably took several years to build. Based on the house’s construction, layout, and the style of the woodwork in the house, we are guessing that the current house dates from the 1840s, possibly the very late 1830s.

Census records indicate that John Einsel was a farmer, but we also know that the Einsels operated a stone quarry. It was located along the creek, just east of the road. The picture at right is taken from an 1874 county atlas. The Einsel House is represented by the square near the center, and the quarry is represented by the circle with the jagged line partway around it, just where the creek meets the road.

Geological Survey of Ohio, Volume 1, which was published in 1873, contains the only written reference I have been able to find for the quarry on our land. Among a list of quarries in our county it says, “Noah Einsel has a handsome quarry, in beds which dip E., N.E.”. We are not sure how long the quarry remained active, but I am guessing that it lived out its entire working life in the nineteenth century. The quarry itself remained, but was filled in about 10 years ago by the Einsel House’s last owners. We would love to open it back up, someday, but that may be a feat that would rank right up there with the original construction of the house.

By 1850 the Einsels’ oldest daughter Sarah had married, but John, Elizabeth and the remaining 5 children are all listed in that year’s census. The census taker noted that Elizabeth was unable to read or write. By the time the 1860 census was taken, only two of the children (Lydia and Levi) were still living at home.

These two censuses also provide a tantalizing clue as to the construction of the house. In 1850, the real estate owned by John Einsel was valued at $5,500. By 1860 that amount had risen to $12,320. I need to get back to the county recorder’s office to determine if John purchased additional land in the 1850s. If he did not, then the difference in value surely suggests improvements to buildings on his land. One theory is that the two story section of the stone house dates from the 1840’s, but that the back section of the stone house (dining room, bathroom and back bedroom above) were not completed until some time in the 1850’s. Another theory is that the entire stone part of the house dates to the 1840’s, but the frame section (kitchen) was added in the 1850’s. A final possibility is that the stone house is actually younger than we believe, and actually was built during the 1850’s. I work the same hours that county offices are open, which makes research difficult, but if I’m able to uncover any other clues I’ll be sure to update here.

John and Elizabeth remained in the stone house until their deaths, Elizabeth passing away in 1865 and John in 1872. Of their children, Sarah, Noah, Henry and Mahala all married and raised families of their own. Lydia never married and lived in the stone house all her life. Youngest son Levi died tragically in 1870 during a vacation. His obituary reads,

“DEATH OF AN EXCURSIONIST – Mr. Levi Einsel, of Bloom Township, who accompanied the Southern Excursion party, which left here on the 18th ult., died very suddenly and unexpectedly at Huntsville, Alabama, on Friday, of congestion of the lungs. When he left here he was in his usual health, which, however, was not very good, although nothing of a serious nature was anticipated. His many friends were deeply pained to learn of his sudden demise…”

If you look back up at the atlas picture above you will notice that just north of the Einsel house is a church. John and Elizabeth are buried in the cemetery beside this church. Immediately beside them are the stones for their children Lydia and Levi, and further down the row are gravestones for various of John and Elizabeth’s grandchildren.

Below is a picture of the headstones for John, Elizabeth and Lydia Einsel. And as my oh-so-subtle addition to the photo shows, you can just barely see the Einsel House itself in the upper right corner of the photo. This picture was taken from a website on local cemeteries and is several years old. Sadly, John Einsel’s headstone has since fallen off of its base, and is now laying on the ground behind Elizabeth’s headstone.

When John Einsel died in 1872, the property including the stone house was left to his unmarried daughter Lydia Einsel. When Lydia passed away in 1880 the property went to her brother, Noah Einsel. By this time, however, Noah had moved to the county seat, where he was partner in a mill. In 1882, nearly 50 years after his parents first settled here, Noah Einsel sold the family homestead to Henry Smith.

As the nineteenth century came to a close the property would change hands several times. But the next chapter of the Einsel House’s history, although brief, is perhaps the most exciting chapter for the house’s current owners. (More on that to come later...)


  1. Is it possible that the current house was built around the original log house? We have come across a few examples of that in my hometown, usually discovered when the entire house was being torn down.

  2. No, the walls here are definately stone all the way through. We've gutted the interior in two separate places and found stone in both. Around here it is common to find the old log homes still on the property, disguised and used as small barns. Most of the outbuildings on our property were torn down in the early 1990's, so the Einsel's original cabin may have met its demise then.

  3. So very interesting, Kimberly. I love your rich writing....

  4. Hi Kimberly! I am so excited to see this house because I didn't know if it was still around. You see, I first read about it in my husband's Einsel family tree, and it described the tree-line creek, as well as the history you have learned about. I told him it would be amazing to retrace some of his roots someday and find out what had become of this property in particular. Ironically, I found a picture from your blog when I Googled my name. I wondered what the knobs in the picture had to do with my name...little did I know what I would find. I plan to go back through your blogs and spend some time learning about all you have invested into this piece of our own family history. I will also share your blog with others in the family. Thank you for what you are doing to restore a piece of history, but in particular, a piece of our family history. Blessings!

  5. I may have come to the party a little late, but my sister-in-law found this and forwarded it to me. I am an Einsel living in CA. I have seen many references to my family being from that part of the country and would love one day to visit that part of Ohio. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi Kelly and Philip! Seeing your comments this morning made my day! I love hearing that the family passed down memories of this house. :)

    If you've read more of the blog you've probably already found my post from Feb. 9th, 2010 in which I explain that this post has a few mistakes - John & Elizabeth Einsel did not live in our house, it was only their son Noah who lived here. Are you both descendants of Noah?

    If you have any questions about the property feel free to ask, and if you're ever in Ohio we would love to have you come and visit!

    1. Anita Einsel KollMarch 16, 2012 at 5:09 PM

      My sister-in-law, Kelly, forwarded this on and I read with amazement! My name is Anita Einsel Koll and am currently living in Southwest Illinois. It is thrilling to read about some of the history of my family! Would love to visit one day and see where our family "began." I appreciate your work in restoring the old homestead and am just tickled that you and your family are there!! Thanks so much for sharing your story!