One of the most basic questions that the homeowner of an old home asks themselves is “Who built my house?” It is a question that, with older homes, is often difficult to answer since the records we most often rely upon do not necessarily provide the kind of detail necessary to make a firm determination. Using the records that do survive though allow us to paint a picture of who should get the credit for building my home.
The parcel of land on which my home sits was owned by New Philadelphia butcher Samuel Crossland in 1850. Samuel purchased the land from a man named Andrew Herter sometime before 1850 for the sum of $750. The 1850 Census record for Samuel Crossland, conducted in August of that year, listed the value of Samuel Crossland’s real estate at $750 as well. This would seem to indicate that, at least at the time the census was taken, any dwelling on the property must have been quite modest.
Two years later, according to the County Auditor’s records, Crossland and his family were living in a house valued at $850. It would appear that in the two years since the census was taken Crossland had constructed a much more significant structure, one that more than doubled the overall value of the property, and is likely the beginning of the story of my home.
Samuel Crossland first appears in the records of Tuscarawas County in the 1840 Census, but it would appear he was residing in Stark County prior. His marriage to his wife Elizabeth is recorded in the Stark County records in February 1834, and the man he purchased his New Philadelphia property from was also a resident of Stark County at one point. Samuel had established himself as a butcher in the city by 1844 (see above advertisement) and it was in this trade that he worked his entire life.
Whether he operated his butcher shop at his Fair Street property is uncertain, but it would not seem unlikely given that he had acquired three city lots (230, 231 and 232) from Andrew Herter and an additional lot (229) shortly after. Each of the lots in 1851 had a value of $45 each except for lot 232 which was valued at $302, again indicating that some form of dwelling was already on the property.
There is little doubt that Samuel Crossland made improvements to the property between the years 1850 and the time he sold them in 1855. The value of Samuel Crossland’s home on lot 232 went from $302 in 1851, to $850 in 1852 and $1160 in 1853. Given that there was very little inflationary issues during the early 1850s, this would seem to indicate significant improvements were made to the home during that period. This assertion is further reinforced with Samuel Crossland’s sale of the property to Samuel Thomas in 1855 for the price of $1700. Samuel Crossland continued to live and work in New Philadelphia as a butcher long after selling his property on Fair Avenue, eventually passing away in 1891 at the age of 84.
It would appear that I have Samuel Crossland, and whatever bricklayers and carpenters he hired, to thank for the initial construction of my home. I will examine the subsequent physical changes to the home over time in a future blog.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2020.