There is a row of homes along Ray Avenue that, without a doubt, have seen better days. Built in the latest fashion of their day, hosts to many parties and gatherings on their well manicured grounds, they expressed their owners’ pride and success. Today they pale in comparison to their glory days, but they have stories to tell.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
John D. Hartman (1869-1946) was born in Charlottesville, Virginia where he was the son of an Ohio-born miller named Jacob Hartman (1844-1921). Jacob was born in Wayne County, Ohio and his family moved to Indiana by the 1860s. What motivated Jacob’s move to Virginia is unclear, but he was recorded in census records in the 1870s and 1880s as being a farmer and miller. John Hartman, along with his brothers, learned aspects of the milling trade from their father. John married Musie Dixon Reynolds (1876-1961) in 1895 and the couple set up housekeeping in Charlottesville where, in the 1900 census, John’s occupation is recorded as miller.
John D. Hartman, and partners from Virginia, purchased the New Philadelphia Steam Flouring Mill located on the 100 block of East Ray Street in the spring of 1904. The new owners planned to increase the mill’s capacity to 115 barrels a day through expansion, better management, and by updating the milling equipment. Shortly after the purchase, John D. Hartman relocated his family, now including four children, from Charlottesville, Virginia to New Philadelphia and acquired a home on the 200 block of West Ray Street.
The home that the Hartman family chose had been constructed within the ten years preceding their acquiring it. A two-story, cross-gabled Queen Anne style home that boasted numerous decorative elements associated with the style. The gable ends of the home were decorated with patterns and the front-gable included a decorative “sun-burst” feature. The house had the typical asymmetrical façade and large, expansive front porch common for Queen Anne homes. The front of the house had a projecting bay feature that allowed for decorative arches to be placed on either side of the second-floor windows.
While the Hartman House may not have been the largest or fanciest in the city of New Philadelphia, the decorative details nonetheless would have made the house stand out among its neighbors. The home offered the Hartman family more than 2500 square feet of living space; space that was badly needed following the birth of the Hartman’s last child in 1903. All in all, shortly after moving into the home on West Ray, the family included Mr. and Mrs. Hartman, three daughters, and two sons. John’s brother, Samuel Hartman (1878-1969), and his family also moved to New Philadelphia and lived a block farther down on West Ray.
The Hartman family’s children all attended New Philadelphia schools, graduating from New Philadelphia High School between the years 1916 – 1925. One of the Hartman’s sons attended the College of Wooster and served during World War One, though he did not enlist until nearly the very end of the war. Their other son stayed in New Philadelphia and worked for manufacturing businesses in the city. The Hartman’s three daughters all attended school after high school and went into a variety of occupations before they married. Most of the children lived at home for many years following their graduation from high school and before their marriages.
John D. Hartman’s business, and his visibility as a result, naturally led him into local politics where he ran unsuccessfully for a post on the New Philadelphia city council in 1915. Meanwhile, another of John’s brothers had made the move to Tuscarawas County and established himself in the ice business in Uhrichsville. The patriarch of the family, Jacob, was living with this brother in Uhrichsville when he died in the fall of 1921. Jacob was buried next to his wife in a family plot at a cemetery in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The success of the New Philadelphia Flouring Mill owned by John D. Hartman made it, and him, the target of criminals more than once. An advertisement in the local paper notifying patrons of the mill that the mill would operate on a cash-only basis, no credit, may have been the temptation local criminals needed. Believing that there was significant cash on hand, the mill’s office was targeted by robbers on a number of occasions. When the last attempt to rob the office occurred in 1938, a 69 year old Hartman managed to chase off the robber after being struck on the head with a black jack. Additionally, the Hartman home was the target of armed robbers early one morning in the summer of 1918. The attempt was thwarted when a neighbor returning home notified the police about the strangers prowling around the Hartman home.
John D. Hartman was still operating and managing his flour mill well into the 1940s. The only child still living at home at that time was their second oldest son who was the owner of a wall paper and paint operation. John died in the spring of 1946 and, following his death, Musie no longer needed the large home on Ray Avenue. She moved into the home of one of their daughters who lived in Akron where she lived until her death thirteen years later. John D. and Musie D. Hartman are both buried in the family plot at Oakwood Cemetery in Charlottesville, Virginia.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.