There is a house that sits prominently at one of the busiest intersections in downtown New Philadelphia. The family that built the home left no children behind to tell their story of how they came to New Philadelphia and helped build a community and life. Hopefully this short profile helps fill that void.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
James Stow (1795-1838) and his wife Esther Chandler (1798-1862) married in New York State around 1825. They arrived in New Philadelphia, Tuscarawas County between 1835 and 1838, bringing with them their three children: Norman Stow (1827-1911), Warren Stow (1835-1905) and Sallie E. Stow (?-1889). John Stow died in 1838 and his widow married fellow New York transplant Robert Copeland (1785-1868) in 1841. The Stow children moved into the Copeland household, along with children from Copeland’s previous marriage.
Norman, following his father’s death, was apparently apprenticed to learn the cabinetmaker’s trade by the man who was appointed his guardian. It’s possible, if not likely, that Norman’s new step-father may have been the man who taught him his trade. A cabinetmaker is a skilled woodworker who principally makes furniture or other highly detailed woodwork. Based on Norman’s later employment, as one will see, he also learned how to turn wood and create wooden patterns. Norman was working in the trade a few years before he met and married Drusilla Stiffler (1832-1900) in the summer of 1856.
Norman and Drusilla welcomed a son and only child, Frank C. Stow (1858-1901), a couple of years before the American Civil War. While Norman did not serve during the war, Norman’s brother Warren enlisted in the United States Navy and settled in New Orleans, Louisiana after the war. Norman joined in partnership with other New Philadelphia tradespeople and entrepreneurs shortly after the war, founding the Everett & Company New Philadelphia Planing Mill and Machine Shop in 1867. The business offered shingles, lathe, flooring, doors, blinds, molding, siding, window sash, turnings, and made patterns for metal castings.
Perhaps in pursuit of timber as part of his occupation and business interests Norman and Drusilla traveled south, first to New Orleans to visit his brother, then to Florida and Cuba during the last half of the 1860s. Norman drafted letters on the regions he visited that were printed in the New Philadelphia newspapers at the time. He and Drusilla would travel to New Orleans several more times to visit Norman’s brother over the course of their marriage. One newspaper account during the 1870s reported that Norman Stow was the “pattern maker at the N.P. machine shops.”
A little less than ten years after their first trip, in the fall of 1877, Norman began construction on a new home near the intersection of East High and Beaver Avenue in New Philadelphia in an area known as Washington Square. It is probable that much of the building material came from the New Philadelphia Planing Mill and that Norman Stow, if not doing the woodwork himself, oversaw all matters relating to the construction of this fine example of New Philadelphia architecture. The construction of the Stowe house was likely completed before the end of 1877.
The house that Norman Stow built was made of brick and designed in the very popular Italianate style. Thankfully many of the Stow house’s exterior details remain intact including the deep projecting eaves, hooded tall and narrow windows, and decorative entrance door surrounds. The Stow house was of a type of Italianate referred to as a “front gabled”, over 2750+ square feet, and it originally included a porch over the entrance on the east side of the home. The house also boasts a double full-arched attic window in the gable end and a feature at the corner of the walls called quoining. One can assume that the interior woodwork was also the work of Norman Stow, or at least skilled craftsmen he supervised.
Norman, Drusilla and Frank resided at the home in East High Street through the remaining years of their lives together. Norman was called on in the late 1880s to oversee the construction of the East End School in New Philadelphia as well as to update the sewage system in the Central School several years after that. His status as a respected member of the community was confirmed when, in 1894, he was appointed a Judge for Goshen Township. Norman’s son Frank Stow must have learned a great deal about building construction and machine work from his father as, in his adult years, he was called upon to oversee a number of buildings and his expertise was often sought out. Drusilla Stow passed away in the spring of 1900 and Frank Stow died in a tragic mining accident in 1901.
Frank’s widow moved into the Stow House after the death of her husband and took care of the household until Norman Stow’s death in 1911. The house that Norman Stow constructed on East High Street in New Philadelphia in 1877 stands today as a testament to his skill as woodworker and mechanic. The fact that it has retained so many of its external features is a further testament to the care given the home by subsequent owners over the years. Norman Stow helped build important aspects of the New Philadelphia community and his son Frank helped care for many others. The Stow family’s prominent burial plot can be seen in Fair Street Cemetery in New Philadelphia.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.