One House’s Story: The McCullough Family

The McCullough House on Tuscarawas Avenue, New Philadelphia, 2019. (Source: google.com)

When this house was built by a prominent New Philadelphia attorney, it was considered by one newspaper writer to be one of the “prettiest cottage homes in the city.”


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

Relatively speaking, the McCullough family were recent arrivals to Tuscarawas County. Pennsylvania-born Charles Norris McCullough (1812-1890) settled in Union Township, Tuscarawas County, along with his parents and siblings, sometime prior to his marriage to Mary Ann Thompson (1821-1886) there in January 1840. Charles and Mary very quickly started their family, welcoming a total of seven children between 1843 and 1858, including a son named Joseph Thompson McCullough (1848-1911).

Joseph, along with his siblings, worked on their father’s farm while also regularly attending school during their youth. Joseph, after nine years of school, taught in the local school as well before he determined to pursue a career in law. During the early 1870s he studied with New Philadelphia lawyer John H. Barnhill (1825-1897), and was admitted to the bar in 1874. Joseph initially set up his practice in Uhrichsville and then, in 1877, married Rachel Rebecca McKee (1852-1878). Rachel tragically, and unexpectedly, died less than a year after their wedding.

  • The family of Charles McCullough recorded on the 1850 census for Union Township, Tuscarawas County. (Source: familysearch.org)
  • The newspaper report of the death of Joseph McCullough's first wife, Rachel, 28 March 1878. (Source: newspaperarchive.com)
  • The first reference to Joseph McCullough as an attorney in New Philadelphia, from a local newspaper, June 1884. (Source: newspaperarchive.org)

Joseph continued to reside in Uhrichsville in the years immediately following his wife’s death, but relocated to New Philadelphia in 1882. Joseph had already become very active in local Democratic party politics, something he would continue throughout his career. Throughout the 1880s Joseph expanded his law practice, took part in a number of political events throughout the county, and was appointed as the Revenue Collector for the county. The latter role involved him, often, fining and collecting money from people who were producing or selling alcohol in the county without a proper license. Something he seemed to relish.

It was also during this period that Joseph joined in partnership with another attorney, James Richards, and also met Ida May Crites (1859-1933). Joseph and Ida married in the fall of 1887. Joseph’s political activities, and his strict enforcement of revenue laws, often made him a target of his political opponents. Joseph occasionally wrote letters to the newspaper countering his critics’ assertions about his activities and intentions. One gets the impression from the various newspaper stories that Joseph T. McCullough was not a man to be trifled with.

  • Report of Joseph T. McCullough as Chairman of the Tuscarawas County Democratic Central Committee, July 1885. (Source: newspaperarchive.com)
  • Record of the marriage of Joseph T. McCullough and Ida May Crites, September 1887. (Source: familysearch.org)
  • Newspaper report of the planned building of the McCullough House on Tuscarawas Avenue, July 1891. (Source: newspaperarchive.com)

After their marriage, and the birth of their first child in 1888, Joseph and Ida determined to build a home on the west side of town near where West Ray Street intersected Tuscarawas Avenue. News of their plans, and the subsequent few months of construction, made the local paper. Terms like “very beautiful”, “most desirable”, and “elegant” were all used to describe the house the couple planned to build on the west side of Tuscarawas Avenue, just north of the West End school.

The house they built was a unique version of the Queen Anne style of architecture that was so popular from about 1880 to 1910. The house boasted a unique combination of hipped and cross gabled rooflines, a partial porch over the entrance, gabled dormers, and decorative trim around the windows. According to a newspaper account at the time, the home was “beautifully finished throughout with natural wood and oil finishes” all common of the style. It is also likely that the house once had far more decoration than can be seen in its current appearance.

  • John T. and Ida May McCullough pictured around the time of the construction of their home on Tuscarawas Avenue, c. 1890. (Source: findagrave.com)
  • Newspaper report about the McCullough house following its completion, January 1892. (Source: newspaperarchive.org)
  • The McCullough House depicted on the 1910 Sanborne Fire Insurance Map. (Source: loc.gov)

Joseph continued to play a very active role in the county’s politics and, after the election of Grover Cleveland in 1892, was invited to attend the President-elect’s inauguration. A few years later Joseph was admitted to a select group of attorneys who were qualified to present cases in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. Meanwhile, the McCullough household had grown to include two children and the occasional law student. Joseph’s health began to deteriorate in the late 1890s as he began to suffer from regular bouts of influenza, often referred to as “the grippe” at the time.

Despite his frequent illnesses Joseph continued to practice, and teach, law from his home on Tuscarawas Avenue during the first decade of the 1900s. Early in January 1911, Joseph McCullough suffered a paralytic attack that severely weakened him. He survived until, in early August 1911, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that ended his life. Ida raised the children in the home on Tuscarawas Avenue and, after they had moved on, continued to reside in the home until her death in 1933. Joseph and Ida McCullough are buried in the McCullough family plot in the Fair Street Cemetery in New Philadelphia.

  • Joseph Thompson McCullough, c. 1905. (Source: findagrave.com)
  • The McCullough family plot in Fair Street Cemetery. (Source: findagrave.com)
  • The McCullough House on Tuscarawas Avenue, 2019. (Source: google.com)
  • The McCullough House on Tuscarawas Avenue, 2019. (Source: google.com)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.

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