Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kitchen Island

I picked this up for only $250 at a local auction yesterday:

This old school lab table is going to have concoctions of a different sort mixed upon it in the future.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"It does need a significant amount of work"

So says the auction listing. I suspect "significant amount of work" might even be an understatement, but still, I'm smitten by the photos of this house. I hope the winning bidder on June 16th is able to give this place the love it needs.

I think I see built in shelves on one side of this fireplace.

Check out the dental molding on that frieze board!

More from the auction listing - "Will offer a 1820`s brick home with a Civil War era addition. This dwelling once operated as an inn located along the river and within 2 miles of some recreational lakes. This Home has 3 original fireplaces, hand hewed beams, standing seam roof & a good artesian well. With this home being near original condition, it does need a significant amount of work & could be considered uninhabitable. This home is not currently under any historical registry."
If you click the link to the listing at the top of this post you can view larger copies of the pictures. (I'm not sure why most of them copied small for me.)

(More pictures of my own house are coming. We've been burning the midnight oil at the Einsel House this week but - fingers crossed - things should slow down again this weekend.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When You Got It, Flaunt It

As alluded to a few post ago, I've left a certain project unmentioned here on the blog. Until today. Let's start with a picture showing what the stairway looked like last November:


(drumroll please............)

What the stairway looks like now:

Isn't that simply delicious!?

As this blog chronicled, last fall we (temporarily) uncovered several interior stone walls here at the Einsel House. As time passed, we became increasingly determined to find an interior stone wall somewhere in the house that we could leave permanently exposed. I mean, the stone construction is one of this home's most unique features, so why not embrace it? The difficulty was in choosing which wall to expose. It was my mom who first suggested the wall at the top of the stairs. And from the moment we decided that the top of the stairs would be it, mom was champing at the bit to bust into the cracked plaster. When she finally began attacking the old plaster (in early February of this year) she practically giddy with excitement.

Frankly, I'm not sure which made her more happy - the stones she was uncovering in front of her, or the fact that she found something other than sanding woodwork to do that day. (This was early February, remember.)

Here's the wall at the end of that first day:

And later, looking up the stairs, sans plaster:

And from mid-February to mid-May, that's basically what our stone wall looked like. It looked great even in that rough state, but there were a few issues that the slightly fuzzy picture above doesn't show. First, at the very top of the stone wall are some pieces of fuzzy yellow insulation.

They are there because where the stone stopped at the top of the wall, it revealed about an inch of unfinished lumber with small gap of varying width between it and the plastered ceiling over the upstairs hall. Bat droppings came out of this gap as the plaster came down. So we stuffed in pieces of left over insulation (both to keep the house's heat from escaping into the attic, and to keep the attic's bats from escaping into the house.) That worked until earlier this month, when my uncle went upstairs and found one of our attic friends hanging from a stone near the top of our exposed wall. With that, finishing the stone wall moved up rapidly on our "to-do" list.

We called in our mason who has done such wonderful work on the exterior of the home and springhouse. (Who I realized just last week is "Jason the Mason". At which point my mom interjected to say, "That's probably why he goes by Jay.") But when we asked him if he could finish and point our interior wall, for the first time ever our mason hesitated. Of course he could do it, but he felt the wall was beautiful in its unfinished state and his heart clearly almost broke at the thought of altering it in any way. I could see his point. But I could also see bats squeezing into my house from the attic, and giant spiders making homes out of the many dark cracks and crevices left in the unpointed wall. Thankfully, our mason's enthusiasm rebounded somewhat once he actually began the project. And we are thrilled with the result. Particularly impressive is the work along the edges of the stone wall, where it meets the doors to the north and south bedrooms. When the plaster came down there were gaps between these door frames and the stone wall. These gaps were filled by our mason with small pieces of stone and pointed just like the rest of the exposed wall. You can see the finished result below:

Standing at the bottom of the stairs now is almost surreal. To my right is the new door with transom and sidelights, straight ahead is the living room with windows trimmed out in floor-to-ceiling walnut, and to my left the refinished stairs topped with the exposed stone wall.

There are times when it's hard for me to believe that this is actually my house. : )

Sunday, May 16, 2010

15,197 Words

Remember – A picture equals a thousand words.

And so, in no particular order, here we go.

First up – matching windows!

Kitchen with new subfloor:

That subfloor is now covered by this tile (they're just self-stick, but they fit the budget):

Refinished bedroom door:

Next up, one of our new curtains for the office, graciously sewn by my Aunt J. (On the bottom half of the window so that we can close them as necessary to avoid sun glare on the computer screen.) Thanks J!

And here's J sewing a curtain. I love the look on her face that says, "You know you really don't need my picture on the blog." (Although I obviously disagree!)

Moving upstairs, here is my mom at work on a little closet tucked into the corner of the back bedroom:

And a blurry picture of the closet taking shape:

Another action pic of mom, this time putting up missing pieces of baseboard in the office:

Still more of mom's work (bathroom closets this time) and more new subfloor:
Two pictures from the south bedroom (carpet goes down in this room tomorrow):

And, finally, two bat boxes on the end of one really long pole:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Of Interest Perhaps

The following was too long to include in the last post without overwhelming it, but I include it here as a footnote of sorts. This is titled "Recollections of Pioneer Days" and was written in the late 19th century by Rebecca (Huddle) Rhinehart's uncle, Elder Lewis Seitz, longtime pastor of the local Primitive Baptist Church. I'll save my own comments for the very end.

In October, 1825, at the age of twenty-three, with my wife and one child, I removed to my present home....I came from my native county, Fairfield, into an almost unbroken wilderness of forest trees, with less than a score of settlers in advance of me. Nearly all who were here before me had settled along the rich valley of Honey creek. For two or three years before mine was reared, cabins had begun to appear in our wilderness. J.C. Hampton (who came in 1822 with the Boyds and Donalds, from Ross County), informs me that he aided in erecting the first cabin put up in the township. This was for my brother, Noah, on Silver Creek. Hampton made his home for a time with his companions from Ross. Their shelter at first was in a log pen covered with logs split in twain, the under tier being with flat side up, and the top tier covering the cracks with the flat side down. The beds were for the women, on bedsteads, with one post. That is, in one corner of the "pen" two poles were entered in the logs with the other end in this "post". Basswood bark furnished the "cords." The men slept on the ground, with hickory bark spread down for sheets. Hampton says: "Our first supply of flour was brought by us on horseback...through the woods."

During these early days a wilderness of forest trees covered the earth, and the first need of the settler was to clear away space enough for a cabin, and then it was "root, hog, or die." While I brought from Fairfield County enough flour to last two years, very few of my contemporaries were thus provided. One season, however, usually sufficed the industrious prioneer to clear a small field and grow bread to do. As for meat, everyone had his gun to supply him with wild turkey or venison, which were abundant. Often, too, as we lay upon our pillow at night, were we saluted with the howl of wolves, apparently at our cabin door. Not only did they make night vocal with their cries, but woe to the sheep or young pigs not well guarded. An occassional bear passed through, but I think none made their home in our township. There were some otter...A wildcat was shot within one hundred rods of our cabin. Indians often visited us...Our red brother was uniformly friendly, and, as a rule, honest, but a tricky one appeared sometimes...

The pioneer who succeeded best in making a comfortable living, did not make a business of hunting, but chopping and logging and burning was the chief work. Much timber, which today would be valuable in the market, was burned on the ground. No where could finer poplar, walnut, blue ash and butternut trees be found...

The first saw mill was built by Roswell Munsel and the Donalds, on Honey Creek, near the present Kaler mill. Soon after John Davis built another mill, a mile further down, where my first lumber was made. A few years later Abraham Kagy put up a saw mill, and the Steeles a saw and grist mill on Silver Creek. It may be well to remind the reader that in those days our water courses furnished power much more steadily and for a greater part of the year. Through the clearing away of fallen timber and general drainage, our creeks gave short lived spirts of water....

In those days neighbors were neighbors, indeed. Was a cabin to be "raised," logs to be "rolled," or assistance of any kind needed, a simple notice was enough. A "neighbor" could be found at a much greater distance than now. The whisky of those days was not charged with "killing at forty rods" as now, but the "brown jug" or the "barrel" was found in nearly every home, and it was esteemed an indispensible "mechanical power" at "raisings" and "loggings", etc., etc.

On the 27th of May, 1827, the Baptist church, named "Honey Creek", was organized. The "council" was composed of Elders Thomas Snelson, of Highland County, and Benjamin Caves, of Pickaway, and Deacon John Hite, of Fairfield. In 1830 the undersigned was chosen pastor of this church and has sustained this relation ever since. As will be noticed, ministers in those days traveled a great way in the pursuit of the calling. But not as now, cosily and swiftly in a railway coach, but invariably on horseback, equipped with "saddle-bags", with Bible, hymn book, a few "dickeys" (a sort of shirt-front with collar attached), and some provisions, perhsaps. The messenger of "peace and good will," through the cross of Christ, traveled in all kinds of weather, over all sorts of roads (or no roads through the wilderness). Perhaps such experiences, if peresent to many of our clerical brethren today, as part of their labors, would lead to some more congenial calling. But it must be remembered that the privations and trials of pioneer life were shared by all classes, and hence borne more cheerfully. While we may freely admit that this generation is enjoying much that is good and desirable as the fruit of the labors and purposes of their pioneer fathers and mothers, it is a matter of profound regret that the rugged virtues and beautiful friendships could not have been transmitted with the improved culture, conveniences, comforts and luxuries enjoyed by our children. They are enjoying the material blessings for which their fathers and mothers toiled and dared and suffered. Modern improvements have obviated the necessity for much of the personal effort and deprivation of pioneer life, but when we cease to practice their manly and womanly virtues, all our boasted progress cannot save us from the penalties of violated moral law.

Of all my first neighbors, Abraham Kagy, J.C. Hampton, Mrs. Thomas West and John C. Martin alone remain. The rest have passed to that "bourne from whence no traveler returns." We, too, shall soon pass away, but may He who guides the destinies of men and of nations, bless our children and our country with civil and religious liberty, and every good resulting from the reign of truth and righteousness is the prayer of Yours truly Lewis Seitz.

Several items from this account drew my particular attention. First, Elder Seitz arrived here in late 1825 - three years after Jacob and Susannah Rhinehart came to this township. In fact, Seitz states that 1822 (the year the Rhineharts came) was the year the very first cabin in the township was built. Clearly, the Rhineharts arrived to an unbroken wilderness when they reached their new home. I also noted Seitz's praise of the neighborliness of the pioneer settlers. Although knowing that Jacob Rhinehart died at a neighbor's barn raising, I was struck by Seitz's admission that whisky "was esteemed an indispensable 'mechanical power' at 'raisings' and 'loggings,' etc., etc.".

Two other sections of Seitz's recollection drew my attention. Since our house is full of some amazing walnut woodwork, the line "No where could finer poplar, walnut, blue ash and butternut trees be found" definately made me smile.

Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, I was struck by Seitz's statement that "in those days our water courses funished power much more steadily and for a greater part of the year". Although our springhouse still stands (thanks to some amazing work by our masons) it would currently not be able to properly serve its original purpose again. The creek that provided the water necessary to keep the springhouse cool is now often barely more than a trickle. Much of last fall the creek bed was entirely dry. A neighbor who has farmed near us since the 1940s tells us that the flow of water in our creek has diminished noticably even in the last 60 years. He speculates that farmers tiling their fields is the primary cause for this change. It is very interesting (and a bit sad I think) to note that this phenomenon was noted as far back as the 1880s.

And with that I'm off to the house for another 48 hours of toil and labor. Something that I think Elder Seitz would approve of. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Rhinehart Years (circa 1845-1863)

Ever since the discovery that Einsel is a bit of a misnomer for our house (Einsels were the second owners of the home), I’ve been trying to learn more about the house’s first owners, Noah and Rebecca Rhinehart.

Noah’s story begins in Fairfield County, Ohio on June 13, 1820, when 21 year old Jacob Rhinehart married 16 year old Susannah Leslie. Noah, the couple’s first child, was born 11 months later on May 26, 1821. In June of 1822, Jacob Rhinehart purchased the land on which his son would later build the stone house that is the focus of this blog. When the family relocated to their new land they were among the very first white settlers to this region. (The township and county were not even formally organized until two years later.) But the young family’s new beginning was cut short sometime in late 1822 or 1823 when Jacob Rhinehart was accidentally killed while helping at a neighbor’s barn-raising. His widow remarried and moved "back east", but she left her young son behind to be raised by strangers.

Noah may have been raised as an orphan, but when he married Rebecca Huddle in 1845 he gained enough in-laws to more than compensate for his own absent kin. Rebecca had been born in Fairfield County on April 21, 1824, the eldest of eighteen (yes, 18) children born to Benjamin & Anna (Seitz) Huddle. In an 1892 biographical sketch one of Rebecca’s brothers says of their father, "He had received only the elements of a common-school education when he was required to take his place on the farm." In 1829 Benjamin and his growing family "moved to this county, where he purchased a tract of new land…Possessing but little means, he had a hard struggle but eventually came off victor…He owned over 400 acres of land besides a hotel…which shows what can be accomplished when willing hands clasp those of industry and frugality." Anna (Seitz) Huddle came from a rather large and illustrious family herself, one in which the sons had a penchant for becoming "Old School" ministers in the Baptist Church.

23 year old Noah Rhinehart and 20 year old Rebecca Huddle were married on March 2, 1845, quite probably by Rebecca’s uncle, Elder Lewis Seitz, who served as pastor to the local Primitive Baptist congregation for over sixty years. Although researching the Rhineharts has failed to provide any direct reference to our stone house, I’m guessing that Noah and Rebecca’s marriage in 1845 probably provides a fairly accurate date for the home’s construction.

The second half of the 1840s was a busy time for the young Rhinehart family. Noah and Rebecca welcomed their first child on April 9, 1846. They named their new son Benjamin, presumably in honor of his maternal grandfather, Benjamin Huddle. Two daughters were added to the family in the next two years; Lydia in 1847 and Amanda in 1848. Noah and Rebecca’s fourth child, Martin, was 3 months old when the family was enumerated for the 1850 census. The census taker that year noted that Noah Rhinehart was able to read and write, and recorded that Noah was employed as a farmer. The family’s real property was valued at fifteen hundred dollars.

Noah and Rebecca’s youngest child was born in the summer of 1852. They named this son Jacob, presumably in honor of Noah’s father who had died 30 years earlier. Sadly, the Rhinehart clan enjoyed only one year with all five children under their roof. Three year old Martin Rhinehart died in November of 1853. The small stone that marks his grave is in the second row of the Primitive Baptist cemetery, less than ½ a mile across the fields northwest of the Rhinehart home. The remainder of the 1850s passed quietly for the Rhineharts, but the 1860s would bring tragedy for the family, and before the new decade was three years old, Noah and Rebecca would sell their home and leave the county in heartbreak.

The decade opened ominously, with the death of Rebecca’s father on January 28, 1860. Fifty-six year old Benjamin Huddle was survived by his wife and numerous children, ranging in age from 35 down to 12 years of age at the time of their father’s death. In August of 1863, Anna Huddle was laid to rest beside her husband. But for Noah and Rebecca, the greatest heartbreak had occurred in May of 1862, with the death of their eldest son, Benjamin. An account of Benjamin's death was printed in the newspaper of a neighboring town:

"On Wednesday last a son of Mr. Noah Rhinehart, about 16 years of age, hung himself in his father's wagon shed. He went to work deliberately, taking the wagon lines, attaching them to some projection, putting them over his neck, and tying his hands with his teeth, he swung himself off into eternity. Suicide by one so young is a rare occurrence in this country."

The picture at the beginning of this post shows Benjamin Rhinehart's headstone, with his parents' home visible in the background. He is buried beside his brother Martin, both one row behind their grandparents, Benjamin & Anna Huddle.

Understandably, Noah and Rebecca were unable to continue living in a house now filled with such devastating memories. In 1863 they sold the property to Noah Einsel and moved onto 100 acres of land near the Miami River in Shelby County, Ohio where they would remain until their deaths, Noah passing away in 1897 and Rebecca ten years later. Newspapers in the county of their youth and early married years made mention of Rebecca's death only briefly, noting that several of her siblings made the trip to Shelby County for her funeral.

Before closing this post I want to include a post-script of sorts sharing my own thoughts. First, I've held off publishing this post for about two weeks. Finding the newspaper account of Benjamin Rhinehart's death was something of a shock, and I hope that if any member of the Rhinehart family ever stumbles across this blog that they will not be unduly pained by what they read here. My intent here is to tell the story of a house and, as this post makes painfully clear, any building (or family) that has stood for over 160 years has surely witnessed pain as well as joy. The first question I had back when I learned that our house had an owner before the Einsel family was "But why did they leave?". After all, Rebecca Rhinehart was not even 40 when she and Noah moved to Shelby County. At the time, I could not understand why a still young couple would go to the work to build a house like this and then to leave it behind so soon. I understand now.

But while learning about the Rhineharts has provided answers to some questions, it has raised still other questions. Questions such as - Which local family raised young Noah Rhinehart? And was there an earlier home on our property, possibly built by Noah's father Jacob Rhinehart? And of course there is the question that we will probably never learn the answer to, the question I'm sure Noah and Rebecca asked themselves all those years ago in their grief - Why?

Learning the Rhinehart family's story has not lessened the affinity I feel for the house they built. The house has always had a quiet peaceful feeling to me, and that has not changed since learning of the tragic death that occurred here. There are only two buildings on the property that remain from the Rhinehart era - the springhouse and the house itself. The "wagon shed" is long gone, and I do admit I'm rather glad for that.

One week from today will mark the 148th anniversary of Benjamin Rhinehart's death.

Coming Soon....

I need there to be more hours in a day. I've got several posts in the works, it's just finding time to put them together that I lack. But you can expect the following posts to be coming soon - I promise!

-a post with the story of our home's first owners, Noah and Rebecca Rhinehart

-a picture heavy post to catch up on recent work done at the house

-a post revealing a project I've kept hush here on the blog. This has been in the works since February and I'm quite excited to finally share it here. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Operation SOS - Part 3

In this chapter of "Saving Our Springhouse" our masons move from working with stone to working with wood. In this first picture we see the rebuilt threshold of the springhouse door. The first several floorboards were completely rotted, so the masons replaced them with some salvaged floorboards that my parents had laying around in their barn.

Next up is a picture of the small door in the west side of the building. The two sides of this jamb have been replaced with new pieces of walnut.

The same view, zoomed out a bit:

I believe that this little door was there to allow water to flow under the building. The south side of the springhouse (right side in the picture above) has two wide but short holes in the very bottom of the foundation wall. Dirt from the creek bank has eroded and covered these holes on the outside of the building, but they are still visible on the interior side of the foundation wall. Given the direction the creek flows, I believe when the springhouse was built there would have been a small channel dug directing water from the creek to flow under the building through the holes in the south side of the foundation. The water would then exit the building through the larger door on the west side of the building and be routed back to the creek. It would be interesting to see if we could someday restore the flow of water under the building.

Back up at the top of the creek bank, the front of the building now looks like this:

Quite an improvement over where we started just a few weeks ago:

Coming soon: figuring out how to put a door back on the springhouse.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Wildlife

It finally happened.
It was soft and brown and kind of fuzzy.
It had elf-like pointed ears.
And two legs.

And two wings.

And it was in the house.

I wish I had been there to take pictures. I've seen a bat before when it is dopey from the light of day, and they are almost cute. My uncle was able to pick it up without any argument and carry it out to the shed where he gently laid it in a dark corner. Hopefully it found its way back to our attic in the wee small hours of last night, to share its harrowing tale of the day before with its own uncles, aunts and cousins galore.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Charles noticed this fellow by the creek last weekend. Anybody have any idea what kind of snake this is? We've seen plenty of snakes around the property, but I don't think this fellow is a garter.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Save Our Springhouse - Part 2

When we last left them, our masons had rebuilt the washed out foundation to within about a foot of the old springhouse door. Before rebuilding that final foot, the old rotted out floor joists under the east half of the building had to be replaced. Here you can see a few of the new joists as the new stone foundation is built up around them:

And here's a view from underneath the building:

Once the foundation was rebuilt, and the sagging floor corrected, the masons next addressed the leaning section of wall between the door and window. They used three jacks and two pulleys to ease it back into its correct position. A tiny adjustment to one jack, followed by a tiny adjustment to one pulley, followed by a tiny adjustment to a different jack, ad nauseum, until the wall was back where it belongs. Here's the head mason at work (note there is no longer a gap between the stone wall and the window frame):

With the pillar between the door and window back in place, they were finally able to start filling in the remaining holes in the stone wall. There's more pointing to come, but here's how the building stood at the end of the work week: