Thursday, December 4, 2008

East Dayton Farmhouses: East of Smithville Road

Range 7, Township 2, Section 22, of the Between the Miamis Survey. Surveyed and settled two hundred years ago, the first settler familys' house still stands.

The Maryland Settlement

This part of Dayton Township (later Mad River Township, formed in 1847) saw an immigration from Maryland. These were not anglo-Catholics from the Chesapeake shores, but rather people of German ancestry who had migrated south from Pennsylvania to the area around Frederick.

The first Marylanders from Frederick were the Lehman, or Lemon, family who settled a quarter section on both sides of todays Linden Avenue, west of Smithville. The Lehman farm became a staging area for an influx of Marylanders from Frederick County, who lived on the property while building their cabins (according to old accounts this was a communal affair, like a barn raising).

The Marylanders apparently settled mostly in along the Xenia Road/Linden Avenue area and off of todays Smithville Road.

Another early settler from Frederick was Louis Kemp, who bought nearly all of Section 22. He was joined by the Suman family, aslo from Frederick, who apparently purchased portions of his land.

The 1851 map shows the Kemps and Sumans on Section 22, and Harshmans heirs still owning a part of the northwest quarter section, considerably expanded from Jonathan Harshmans 40 acres. The two house sites of interest are circled in red. Note the David Kemp house set near dead center of Section 22. This was perhaps the original Louis Kemp homestead site.

The 1869 Titus map shows how land ownership became fragmented as the pioneer families/landowners either divided the property among heirs, located to farms different from the orignal homestead (like the Gillespie family acquiring property east of Smithville), or sold out altogether and moved on.

The 1875 Combination Atlas map shows continued changes, even within the span of six years

The 1875 map provides some nice detail, showing perhaps orchards next to the old farmhouses, and their proximity to springs feeding into McConnells Creek. Note also the consistent jog in the ancesteral Burhart Avenue/Kemp Road around the Kemp farmhouse. The site is on a rise in land up from the valley of McConnels creek, so the road jogs to make climbing the grade less onerous.

Also, by 1875 "W. Suman" have sold out one of their original tracts to "D. Colser". The Colsers would retain this tract probably into modern times.

Finally, the 1895 map, showing the city limits reaching Smithville Road. The pioneer Kemp, Gillespie, and Harshman families are still landowners, holding all or part of their 1805 properties. And we can see an additional farmhouse for the Harries family, another pioneer family, but originally in the town of Dayton (an early Harries was a brewer: "his ale was of the finest make").

Birdseye views show the three surviving 19th century farmhouses (the Harries house severly modified and hidden away on a large lot).

The Kemp House

This aerial shows the house and the original route of Burkhart/Kemp Road. The house faces this alignment.

Approaching the house from the old farm road, looking south, one can see it is fairly long, but built in two parts, one in stone, the other in brick. The grounds feature some very large trees.

One can surmise this is the original Kemp homestead site, but it is questionable if this house was built by Louis Kemp or a later Kemp.

The stone construction is fairly unusual.

The limestone bedrock is occasionally close to the surface on the ridges and heights overlooking the valleys here, so stone might have been available on the property if it outcropped and was easy to quarry. The stone could also have been hauled in from the quarrys in what is now Belmont if the house was built later, when these quarries were in operation.

But why stone and not brick or wood? There is precedent for stone construction in Frederick (the Hessian Barracks and Shifferstadt house), but it's a stretch to say these influenced the choice of material.

Yet this is an excellent example of vernacular architecture, austere yet noble in form.

The house was not built in the L shaped I-house form, but as a sort of saltbox, with long sloping roof over the rear annex. The chimneys are not protruding or expressed on the side facade, but are flush with the wall.

Suman/Cosler House

This house stands out in its suburban neighborhood (which is historic in its own right as one of the very first postwar subdivisions east of the city), located approriately enough on Cosler Avenue.

At first glance this looks like one of Daytons vernacular urban I-houses, sort of an abbreviated T or L shape to fit on city lots, with a gable end facing the street and side entry.

However, the birds eye view shows the top of the T to be longer than expected, perhaps a long rectangular house like the Eichelberger house shown previously, with later additions

(possible spring location noted, as the 1875 map shows a spring near the house site)

Yet the chimney arrangement would have been different if the rectangular core was an old farmhouse, with end chimneys or a center chimney. So maybe the house was built that way, a rural application of a vernacular urban houseform found in antebellum Dayton. This style of house appears in the Oregon before the Civil War (see The Folk Process in Dayton's Oregon for a discussion of the urban I-house), so this structure might still be fairly old.

The 1904 topograhic map shows Section 22 as it entered the 20th Century. The three farmhouses discussed here noted in red.

In 1901 the 5th Street carline was extended up Huffman Avenue to a loop at Smithville Road. In 1906 one of the Kemp properties was subdivided as the East Park plat. As this area grew a shopping center would grow around the trolley loop, investigated in this post.


The houses shown in this series of posts are the most obvious farmhouses in East Dayton (there may be more but they're not readily apparent). There is one more farmhouse, off Huffman Avenue, that will be addressed in a later post on the country estates of Huffman Hill.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating posts. You are creating a great repository of information. I wonder if future cyber-archaeologists will discover your posts and be wowed by the sophistication of early 21st century Daytonians.

Jefferey said...

Heh, if I was really technologically savvy I would be using GIS not powerpoint! :)

But thank! Good to hear there is some interest in this stuff.

Foreverglow said...

Thanks Jeff. There are several large homes on or near Huffman Rd. that undoubtedly have great histories. Can't wait to hear about them.

Anonymous said...

I think I have been inside the Suman Cosler house a family named Weathers lived there in the 1960s.If it is the home I think it is near where Fulmer Dr.intesects Cosler Dr.There was another real jem of a Farm that was behind Fulmer that was back a long lane off of Kemp Rd.It was a two story log house.It was between the DP&L golf cource and where K-mart is,(where the K-mart stands used to be a dariy farm)The locals called the log cabin Bentons Farm the name of the people who lived there.It was rumored that DP&L bought the property to expand their golf cource.The family moved in the late 1960s.The house was protected by a 20ft. chain link fence after it was vacant but vandals soon burnned it down.A creek ran through the property.It may be the Mc Connels Creek on the maps shown.But I new it as Lilly Creek.The Mad River TWP Fire dept.tried to save the house but the stone arch culvert on the lane was washed out,and no fire hydrants.So the built a dirt and rock dam in the creek and streched hoeses and pumped water from the creek but it was too late.There also was another farm that lasted into the late 1960s just south of there Behind Brownell Rd.and between the Rd.and the PRR Clement RR Yard.It had 2 houses and a barn it was also burrned today it is low income housing Sunshine Village and I heard one of the Weathers family lives there.Interestingly there is a woods most of it old growth that runs along the creek from Bentons farm to the place on Brownell.

Anonymous said...

Yes there is a spring in the area of the Suman-Cosler House.It is,was behind Fulmer Dr.between Fulmer and the Creekside Railtrail(CH&D,B&O RR)It may have been disturbed or re-routed during construction of the Pinewood Plat.And one of the houses on Kirk Lynn Dr. had several well developed fruit tree in the backyard between it and Fulmer Dr.Kirk Lynn Dr.was named for one of the construction workers on the Pinewood Plat.He lived several houses north of the Cosler-Suman House on Cosler Dr.

Anonymous said...

I live right down the street from Kemp House and have always been fascinated by it since it is so pretty! Can't believe it's been standing since 1801. They don't make them like that anymore!

So you happen to have any information on that big yellow house by the railroad tracks on Old Harshman Road? That one fascinates me as well.

Thanks for the information, keep up the great work!

Tommie said...

I know no-one will ever read this however the Kemp house is two different styles of brick due to the fact that on July 4th 1997 a car crashed into the eastern corner. The red brick is from the reconstruction.

GRCNKY said...

My Grandfatherand then my uncle lived in the log home and were indeed Bentons all. As a child we often visited the home. It was truly a shame that it burned. I think the house was built in the 1860's.

Liz King-Jones said...

I grew up on Kirk Lynne Drive, but never knew the street was named for the Kirks who lived on Cosler (must have been Susie Kirks dad, he was a plumber). I always wondered about the old brick that had a walk out basement close to the Weatherly's (not Weathers). A Mrs Brown lived there when I was a child. I played in that creek at the end of the golf course, and with Brenda McNabb, who lived in the log home behind the golf course prior to the Benton's living there. I knew both families

Liz King-Jones said...

I want to add that I lived in that neighborhood from1951 until the spring of 1967. The kemp house was always part Stone, part brick. There may have been repairs later if it was hit by a car, I had moved from Dayton by then. I would still like to know some history on Mrs Browns old brick if anyone knows.