Saturday, January 29, 2011

An Einsel Sibling? Update

In this post from last October I featured a nearby stone house that I suspect was built by the same mason and/or carpenter as the Einsel House.  Since then I've gradually been learning more about this possible Einsel House sibling.

My uncle's nephew C, who lives much closer to Columbus than I do, helped by checking the Ohio Historic Inventory for the larger stone house and he emailed me a copy of the registry sheet he found, which is dated 1981. The larger stone house is known as the Simon Koller House.  The OHI lists it as "Italianate" in style (definately not what I would label the house at first appearance).  The box with date built has ca. 1840 typed, but this is crossed off in pencil with 1860 handwritten beside it. 

In the box for Further Description of Important Features the preparer noted "6/6 windows, stone lintels over windows; house is deep; stone belt courses along first and second stories; deeply recessed door opening with panelling around door; door in center of second story; wide overhanging eaves; two interior chimneys."  Sadly, the 6/6 windows are now gone but the rest of this description is still accurate.

For History and Significance the preparer wrote "The largest stone house found in rural --- County, this house is a fine example of stone architecture.  It reflects the transitional period to the Italianate style and still retains its original detailing.  Simon Koller, a native of Pennsylvania, built this house around 1840.  A large land owner of over 400 acres on which this house stood, he farmed the land as well as operated a saw mill and grist mill.  He owned the northwest corner of the town of --- when the town was platted in 1837.  He retained his prominent position for many years in --- Township."  (Sorry for the redactions there, this blog has enough information that anyone who really wants to find me can, but I'd rather not make it too easy.)  Again in this section, the build date of 1840 is crossed off in pencil. 

I'm quite curious who made the later "corrections" to the build date on the OHI registry.  I strongly feel that the original circa 1840 build date is more accurate.  1860 would be much more in-line with the general Italianate movement in architecture, but as I stated above, in my opinion labeling the Koller House as Italianate is a bit of a stretch in the first place.  1840 also seems to be a better fit considering the home's original owner, Simon Koller.  In 1840 Simon was in the prime of his life, with a house full of children.  By 1860, Simon and his wife were in their late fifties, with only three children (all daughters quickly approaching marriageable age) still living at home. 

Then yesterday I stumbled upon another clue.  I found the following biographical sketch of Mr. Koller, taken from a county history published in 1886:

SIMON KOLLER (deceased) was born February 8, 1802, in York County, Penn., where he grew to manhood. He was married in his native county to Mrs. Mary Magdalena Bricker, also a native of York Co., Penn. born January 6, 1810. In 1838 they turned their faces westward, attracted by the advantages for new settlers in the climate and soil of Ohio. They remained about two years in Wayne County, Ohio and in 1846 settled permanently on Honey Creek, --- Township, this county. Here they bought 160 acres of land which they increased the next year to 320 acres. They reared an intelligent and influential family, five of their eight children are now living: Josiah, residing at Napoleon, Ohio; Mrs. Maria Zeigler, residing at Bucyrus, Ohio; Mrs. Sarah Seigley, Martin; and Mrs. Leah Benenderfer. Mr. Koller was a man of wonderful industry and energy. Besides his extensive farm interests he established a saw mill on his place and afterwards built a grist mill, near by, which he operated until 1865. He added to his landed property until he owned in all about 550 acres in this county. As a citizen Mr. Koller was known far and wide for his generosity and liberality to the poor. It is said that even those who had done him great injury received favors from his hand. Mr. Koller died February 13, 1882, his wife having preceded him September 6, 1881. They were pious members of the Reformed Church. Mr. Koller being almost the main support in building the church here; they were among the township’s best known and most highly respected pioneers and their memory will long be honored by the citizens.

The whole sketch is quite entertaining, and I suspect Mr. Koller is a man anyone would be proud to include in their family tree, but there's one detail in this sketch that practically jumps off the page for me - "and in 1846 settled permanently on Honey Creek".  When I visited the Koller house back in October my camera was exclusively focused on the house itself, but if I had taken any pictures with my back to the house they would show that the large stone house included in the Ohio Historic Registry, the Simon Koller House, the house I suspect to be an Einsel House sibling, is built directly facing Honey Creek.

So - I think circa 1846 may be the most accurate build date yet for the Koller House.  And when I read that date my heart went pitter-patter - because I've narrowed the most probable build date for our own house down to circa 1844-45.  That's pretty darn close to 1846. 

Will I ever be able to prove beyond a doubt that the Koller House and the Einsel House were built by the same person?  Probably not, but the more I learn about each house the more convinced I am.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Second Verse, Same as the First

The second section of beadboard is done.  And I am pleased to report that it went up quite easily.  Not that the first wall gave me too much grief, but I do have a couple mis-cut pieces of beadboard laying on the floor from my first attempt.  But this time every piece fit on the first try.  I even managed to put more nails into the nail gun without injury to myself or the house.  : )

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Einsel Years (1864-1882)

The deed recording the sale of our home from Noah Rhinehart to Noah Einsel was recorded on March 8, 1864. 

As explained in a post from last winter I originally believed that Noah Einsel had inherited the house from his parents - thus the "Einsel" label on the house and blog.  I was wrong - Noah Einsel did inherit a house from his parents, but he paid $5,280.00 for this stone house and the surrounding 80 acres. 

Noah and Mary Einsel were both in their early thirties when they bought this house.  They celebrated their 12th anniversary three days after closing on the property.  Their family in 1864 numbered six - eldest child Alonzo was eleven years old, Clara was ten, Delora was seven, and Fannie was seventeen months. 

The 1870 census shows Noah and Mary living in this house with their four children.  Noah's occupation in that census is recorded as 'farmer', but county histories from later that decade reveal that Noah also maintained an active stone quarry on the property. 

I do not know exactly when the Einsel family moved out of our house, but the 1880 census shows the Einsels living in the county seat, about 10 miles northwest of here.  The county history published in 1884 (luckily county histories were popular in the late 1800's) reveals that by that time Noah was employed as a partner in a local mill. 

I'm not sure who (if anyone) was living in the stone house in 1880.  One possibility is Noah and Mary Einsel's daughter, Clara, who had been married in 1875 to Frank P. Klahr.  Frank and Clara Klahr with their young daughter Leora were enumerated in this township for the 1880 census.  It seems possible to me that Noah and Mary would let their daughter and son-in-law live in the house while Frank built his practice as a physician. 

But regardless of who was living here, Noah Einsel did not keep the house long after moving to the county seat.  On April 1, 1882 Noah and Mary sold the house and 100 acres to John Henry Smith for $10,000.  The Einsel-to-Smith sale price stands out to me.  Noah Einsel paid $5,280 for the house and 80 acres of land in 1864.  To me, the addition of 20 acres of land seems insufficient to explain the fact that Noah Einsel sold the house in 1882 for almost twice what he had paid for it 18 years before.  It's possible that the price of farmland in this area skyrocketed after the Civil War.  However, I know that at one time there were numerous barns and other outbuildings on this property, and it is possible that some of these were built during the Einsel years.  And I strongly suspect that the frame (kitchen) addition to the house was built during the Einsel years.  No matter what their nature, it seems apparent that Noah Einsel made improvements to the property during his 18 years of ownership.

Thus the story of the family who gave this blog its name.  They lived in the house almost as long as the home's first owners, the Rhineharts, but like the Rhineharts they left this home while still middle aged, living out the remainder of their adult lives in another home.  This was a trend that would continue for the stone house until the arrival of the Frankenfields in 1901.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Playing Around

I'm playing around a bit with the layout and design of the blog, so expect things to look a bit different around here until I settle on a new look.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Priming and painting are such similar activities.  And yet priming is pure drudgery and painting is pure bliss.  (Well, that may be a bit of a stretch I admit.  But painting is sooooo much better than priming.)

I'm very pleased with how this first wall turned out.  I had a small delay after the first coat of paint when I stepped back and realized that although I had caulked nail holes and imperfections on the beadboard I had not caulked any of the nail holes or imperfections on the trim around the window.  With a coat of white paint on every little hole and crack immediately drew your eye.  So I got up early enough Sunday to finish caulking before church, and then put on the second coat of paint Sunday afternoon.

The wall color makes me a bit uneasy, but I'll finish my existing plans for the kitchen before I make any final decision about the walls.  When I chose that color I was aiming for a 'is-that-blue-or-is-that-gray?' color.   Sometimes, if the light is right, that's what color the walls are.  The rest of the time they're baby blue.  With painters tape up the walls practically screamed BABY BLUE, but thankfully once the blue tape came down the walls seemed a bit less obnoxious about their blue-ness. 

The north wall will be the focus of my attention next, but it will probably be the weekend before I make any significant progress there.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I plan to have this section under paint by the end of the weekend. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Kitchen Project Begins

I'm taking off on a new project.  But unlike earlier Einsel-projects of this scale, I'm going to be taking this project on solo.  When you live in a house like this one there are countless benefits to having a mother whose day job is in a custom woodworking shop.  But there is a downside - I've been perhaps too reliant on my mom's skill and willingness to help.  I'm grateful for the help.  So grateful.  But I'm also tired of feeling intimidated and incompetent when left alone with any power tool that involves a blade or compressed air. 

So as I contemplated the changes I have in mind for our kitchen, I also contemplated tackling this one alone.  Mom's seen my plans for the kitchen, and she knows I'll be relying on her advice (and extensive tool collection) but she also knows I want to do this myself. 

I'm starting on the north end of the kitchen.  The only change in this half of the room will be the addition of beadboard wainscoating under the existing chair rail.  Here's a picture of my progress so far:

In a way I feel like my age was just divided by ten and I'm a three year old insisting, "I can do it by myself!".  And, like a three year old, my progress is much slower and my work perhaps a bit rougher around the edges.  But I did it myself, gosh darn it!

My plan is to do the room in sections, which means I will prime and paint the beadboard pictured above before moving on.  We're living in the house, and I'm hoping to keep most of the kitchen in some semblance of order as I proceed.  Up next will be the northeast corner of the room, which will be a repeat of the beadboard work I'm doing in the northwest corner of the room.

The south half of the room will be more challenging.  Here's a picture of what I'll be starting with:

(Any guesses where Tiny the Cat's food and water dishes are?)  The plan here is to add crown moulding and new hardware to the upper cabinets.  They will be painted the same off-white color as the beadboard and trim in the other end of the room.  If the budget allows, there will also be new counters and a new sink before giving the lower cabinets the same treatment. 

The wall along the right side of the above photo of the Einsel House kitchen is going to present the biggest challenge.  Part of this wall will be a mudroom style row of hooks with a small shelf above and a bench below.  I'll be using the picture at right as a guide, except I'm planning on open cubbies for shoe storage on the bottom rather than a closed bench.

Initially this bench and hooks combo was my only plan for our southwest kitchen wall.  But while browsing at Houzz I found this picture:

Kitchen Storage Wall traditional kitchen

And I instantly knew what I wanted to do.  Merging my original bench and hooks plan with the left half of the entourage pictured above I sat down and sketched out this:

Yeah, kind of crazy I know.  Especially when I admitted just a few paragraphs back that using a brad nailer or a circular saw makes me nervous.  But I'm still planning to do it. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Plans are only good intentions...

...unless they immediately degenerate into hard work."  ~Peter F. Drucker

2010 was quite a year here at the Einsel House. Here's a selection of scenes around the house from the beginning of 2010:

By December things looked a bit different:

And if we can accomplish half of the projects I have planned for 2011 then things should look different still by next December.

So, what’s in store for 2011 you ask?

The Shed
This poor little building is long overdue for a little love. The picture at left was taken in October of 2009, but it basically looks the same now.  Our plans for this spring/summer are to tear off and replace the rotten awning, recoat the metal roof, wrap the entire building in tar paper and then cover it with salvaged barn siding.

The Stone Bridge
This is perhaps the most intimidating project on the horizon, but given the rate the bridge is eroding I know we should not put this off. The plan is to rebuild the bridge in 4 sections, starting with the northern half of the west side. I suspect this may be a four year project.

The Springhouse
Although the springhouse was the focus of much attention in 2010, the work on this little building is not yet finished. I want to replace the windows and finish work on the roof, as well as plant some ivy or other ground cover around the new stone walls in front of the springhouse.

More Masonry Work
We’re saving our pennies so that we can have our masonry contractor return this spring to repoint the east side (back) of the house. The previous owner of the EH repointed the north side of the house, and our mason did the west side in the fall of 2009 and the south side in June, 2010. Once the east wall is repointed this spring/summer we will save up and hopefully be able to have the chimneys rebuilt sometime in 2012.

The Kitchen
I'm quite excited about my plans for this room and predict I’ll dive into this project sometime before January ends. More details should be coming in a post soon.
The Yard
The yard here is currently a blank if somewhat bumpy slate. My (perhaps overly ambitious) plans for this summer include clearing a small area along the creek for a stone bench that Charles’ parents gave to us last year and planting a vegetable/herb garden in front of the kitchen wing and surrounding it with a picket fence. And of course more general leveling and stump clearing.

So here’s to twenty-eleven. Do I think all of the projects outlined above will be completed a year from now? Probably not. But we’ll have fun trying!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Still Here

I’ve been quiet here over the holidays, I know, but I've been working on some new posts for the blog. 
For now it's just this little teaser.  But I promise any readers still checking in here some longer posts coming soon.  Specifically, you can expect some more house history posts and some posts laying out my plans for the house – and the yard and the barn and the stone bridge J – for 2011.

(And to anyone still checking in here after my little hiatus I say, "Thanks for your faithfulness!")