There is a house on the west end of New Philadelphia that, every time I passed it, I was intrigued by how it got there and who may have lived in it. Perhaps you’ve driven past it as well and wondered the same. This is one story from that house’s history.
When one drives west down Front Street SW in New Philadelphia, Ohio, you are required to stop at the intersection of that street and 7th Street SW. If one looks to their right there is what used to be a small church (a story for a future time) and, to the right of that, a simple two-story frame house. Based on visible features and maps of the period depicting it, the home was constructed as a simplified version of a front-gable, Greek Revival architectural style. The house was built in an L-form with a porch on the north side of the western extension and a porch over the front entrance of the house. Neither porch survived. To determine the precise date when the house was constructed one would need to examine surviving property transfer records, but it certainly predates the date of 1900 in the county auditor’s records.
The best documented owners of the house at what was recorded as 154 South Tenth Street (modern 7th Street SW) was the family of Mr. Joseph Axx (1842-1924). Joseph was a decedent of one of Tuscarawas County’s early settlers, Johann Jacob Axx (1800-1880), who went by Jacob and settled in Dover Township before 1824 when he married Catherine Jane Henderson (1799-1873). Jacob moved his family northward in the county as time went on and eventually settled in the east end of the town of Navarre in Stark County. Jacob and Catherine had eight children between 1832 and 1848, including Joseph Axx. When Jacob died in 1880 he left a detailed will and inventory of personal items, much of it acquired by his children after his death.
Joseph worked on his father’s farm during his youth and early manhood. During the winter and early spring of 1869 Joseph courted Mary Seibert (1847-1928). The couple married in May 1869 and settled onto their own farm in Bethlehem Township, Stark County before the census of 1870. Between 1870 and 1880 Joseph went into business as a teamster, carrying goods from Navarre to Dover and New Philadelphia. Children came shortly after the marriage, including a son who died before he reached his first birthday. That son was buried in New Philadelphia in 1874, though the Axx family was still living in Stark County at the time.
A branch of the Axx family, and relatives of Joseph, were active in New Philadelphia during the time that Joseph was working as a teamster and he undoubtedly interacted with them on a regular basis. The first evidence we have of Joseph Axx and his family actually living in New Philadelphia is a newspaper report from the fall of 1882. Joseph Axx, while on an outing with his wife and three children collecting chestnuts, fell from a tree and broke both of his legs. He was in court for almost two years in a dispute with the doctors who treated his injury. They suing him for payment, he suing them in return.
Whether Joseph Axx and family were living in the house on South Tenth Street at the time he first broke his legs (that’s right, first) is unclear but certainly possible. It is clear though that the family, including one of their daughters, were living there by the time the census was taken in June 1900. In addition to the South Tenth Street property, Joseph and his wife also owned lots on Front Street as well. Other Axx children were living nearby including one son, George, who opened a grocery on West High Street. Mr. Axx was still working as a teamster at this time and he was apparently hauling material either to, or from, the large planing mill on Front Street. We know this because, while in the process of loading plank for the mill, he suffered a broken knee cap when he was thrown from a unstable railroad car.
Joseph and his wife continued to live in the house at 154 South Tenth Street throughout the first decade of the 1900s, hosting visits there from friends and family members. Joseph continued to buy, and sell, property on Front Street during the same time period, turning a significant profit on one sale. One fall day in 1912 while standing next to his wagon, with one leg inside the spokes of the wheel, the horse lurched the wagon and Joseph Axx’s leg was broken for the third time. It was after this accident that Joseph offered his wagon and tools for sale and placed their South Tenth Street house on the market.
Joseph and Mary Axx moved to Canton, Ohio in 1913 and purchased a home there at 811 Correll Street. Their New Philadelphia home may have been rented for a short time before it was purchased by New Philadelphia carpenter Frank Engle around 1918. Joseph Axx suffered a stroke in November 1923 that left him partially paralyzed and bedfast. He died in early February 1924 and was buried in the Fair Street Cemetery in New Philadelphia.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.