One House’s Story: The Wise Family

The Wise House on Beaver Avenue, New Philadelphia, 2019. (Source: google.com)

Some houses still exist only on dated images found on Google Street View. I noticed this New Philadelphia house there, hidden behind hedges along Beaver Avenue, and wondered what stories it had to tell. I had no idea it had been the home of one of the community’s most respected Civil War veterans and his family.


A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.

The Wise family arrived in Tuscarawas County in the early 1840s when Jacob Wise, Sr. (1813-1875) left his wife Anna Keiser (1811-1888) and young children in Switzerland and set off to establish a place for his family in America. After arriving in the county, Jacob acquired land in Fairfield Township and farmed it for several years before Anna and their two sons, John (1841-1915) and Jacob, Jr. (1840-1909), arrived in 1849. A year later, the family welcomed a third son, Godfrey (1850-1860). After the arrival of one of Anna’s brothers in Ohio, John went to work with him on his farm in Monroe County.

Jacob and Godfrey worked on the family farm and attended school in their youth. Godfrey drowned in the canal in 1860 at the age of 10, leaving Jacob as the only remaining son in Tuscarawas County. Jacob apparently excelled in school but, in the years immediately preceding the Civil War, found work in one of the many local coal mines. When the Civil War began Jacob was one of the many local volunteers who enlisted in the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, signing up as a member of Company A in September 1861.

  • The Wise family recorded on the 1850 census for Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County. (Source: familysearch.org)
  • The Wise family property located in Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County, 1875. (Source: ancestry.com)
  • Modern view of the Wise Family property in Fairfield Township, Tuscarawas County. (Source: earth.google.com)

Jacob Wise saw service for over four years with the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, seeing combat throughout the western theater of the war at places like Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta and Nashville. Jacob never suffered illness or injury during his service and advanced through the ranks from Private to 1st Lieutenant by the end of the war. After the war, Jacob returned home and found work with the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad for several years, rising to the position of Baggage Master. It was during this post-war period, in December 1868, that Jacob married Amelda Callanan (1849-1903).

Jacob eventually went into the retail grocery business, working with a variety of partners over the course three decades. The reasons why are unknown, but Jacob and Amelda never had any children of their own over the course of their marriage. The wife of one of Jacob’s partners passed away in 1870, and Jacob and Amelda took the couple’s infant daughter into their home and raised her as their own. Jacob was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, taking an active part in all of the 51st Regiment’s reunions over the years, and also served the public as a township trustee and cemetery director. The latter service began following his acquisition of a lot on Beaver Avenue and the subsequent construction of his home there.

  • Jacob Wise as a Sergeant in the 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1863. (Source: ancestry.com)
  • The location of the Wise House on the 1875 Atlas of Tuscarawas County. (Source: familysearch.org)
  • Advertisement for the grocery business in which Jacob Wise was a partner, May 1882. (Source: newspaperarchive.org)

Sometime prior to 1891 Jacob and Amelda acquired a portion of Lot #4 along the east side of Beaver Avenue near the Fair Street Cemetery and, later that year, began construction of a home there. The house was a modest story-and-a-half frame, side gabled building built in the very popular colonial revival style of architecture. Details like the columned front porch posts, dentil molding details around the windows and pedimented porch entrance are very common features of the style. The house sat back off of the road with a brick path leading to the front door. A perfect sized home for the childless Wise family.

Unfortunately Amelda was only able to enjoy their new home for twelve years. During the winter of 1902-1903 she suffered from an illness that, by April of 1903, had taken her life at the age of 54. Jacob continued to live in the home for six more years before succumbing to a bought of pneumonia in the April 1909. A testament to Jacob Wise’s stature in the community is found in the significant obituary found in the local paper at the time of his death. The Wise house would stand on Beaver Avenue for at least another 110 years before it was removed sometime after 2019. It still, however, lives on Google Street View.

  • A photograph of the the Wise house found in the 1908 Atlas of Tuscarawas County.
  • The Wise house as it appeared in a 2019 image found on Google Street View. (Source: google.com)
  • The Wise house as it appeared in a 2019 image found on Google Street View. (Source: google.com)
  • Jacob Wise photographed a year before his death, 1908. (Source: newspaperarchive.org)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.

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