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.


  1. Great sleuthing. By "built by the same person," you're referring to the stonemason/architect/contractor?

    I recently found out a little more about the man who owned my property up to 1911, but I can't prove he built the house on it. Gotta keep digging.

  2. Yes, Kate - I'm referring to the actual builders, not necessarily the owners.

    I've done a bit of digging in the 1850 census, but there are several local residents who listed their occupation as "carpenter" or "mason" and I'm not sure if there is any way for me to determine which (if any) of them was involved in the actual construction of our house.