It is hard to miss this home on North Water Street in Uhrichsville with its two-story, corner turret-like feature. While it was once home to one of the city’s most prosperous residents, it was built by a family with much more modest beginnings.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
The Rhoads family arrived in Ohio in the 1830s when Henry Rhoads (1815-1884) moved from Bedford County, Pennsylvania to Columbiana County, Ohio in the 1830s. Henry married Rachel Adams (1814-1886) in New Lisbon, Ohio in 1836 and the couple moved shortly after to Stark County, Ohio where Henry established a tailor shop in Waynesburg. Between 1837 and 1858 Henry and Rachel welcomed nine children into the family, including seven sons and two daughters. One of the two sons was Harry W. Rhoads (1855-1934), born in 1855. Many of the children helped out in the family shop as children, but their eldest son worked as a telegrapher. It is likely from his brother that Harry also learned how to operate telegraph equipment, which would lead to his future career.
A combination of the expansion of the railroad system throughout Ohio and the development of telegraphic technology led to the need for railroads to have skilled telegraphers at points across Ohio. Harry took his telegrapher skills and went to work for railroads in southeast Ohio and, by 1880 was working for a railroad at a station in Bridgeport, Belmont County, Ohio. It was while living and working in Belmont County that Harry met his future bride, Mary Lureine Grier (1867-1960). The couple were married in St. Clairsville, Ohio in the spring of 1888. Shortly after, and probably ordered by the railroad with which he worked, Harry and Mary (who often went by Lurene) were required to relocate to Uhrichsville around 1891.
Harry and Mary Rhoads had two children, both daughters, between 1890 and 1892. Their eldest daughter was born in Belmont County while the younger was born in Uhrichsville around the same time that Harry and Mary purchased Lot# 408 in the Helwig & Dawson’s Addition area of Uhrichsville. Harry was recorded in later census records as a railroad baggage freight manager and it is likely in this role that he now found himself in Uhrichsville. They purchased the lot for $350 which would indicate that, if there was a structure on the lot at the time, it would have been a very modest one. Regardless, it was after 1892 that Harry and Mary started construction of their new home on the lot on North Water Street.
The house that they built was a substantial, two-story brick home built in the Queen Anne Style common in the 1890s. The house was a cross-gable form with tall, narrow windows, stone window sills and headers in contrasting color, a single-story front porch with decorative posts and capitals. While the bricks for the walls were light colored, the brick used for the foundation were red, creating a definitive belt around the bottom of the home intended to be decorative. The later addition of a turret was consistent with the Queen Anne style as well. The home was more than enough for Harry, Mary, and their two daughters, but they did not live in the home for very long.
Less than ten years after building their Uhrichsville home, Harry took a position with the Pennsylvania Railroad in Newark, Ohio in Licking County. It did not take him long to find a buyer for the home on North Water Street though, selling it in May 1901 to local clay manufacturer Andrew Robinson (1859-1919) for $3800. Robinson was a Scottish immigrant who started the Diamond Clay Company, and worked as an executive with the Uhrichsville Fire Clay Company, American Sewer Pipe Company, Royal Sewer Pipe Company, and formed the Robinson-Graves Sewer Pipe Company. It was Andrew Robinson who added the turret like two story addition between 1908 and 1915. Andrew and his wife lived in the home until their deaths in 1919.
Harry and Mary Rhoads lived out the remaining years of their lives in Newark, Ohio where Harry was active in a number of fraternal organizations there, serving in leadership roles with the local Masonic Lodge. Harry died from pneumonia in the spring of 1934 after retiring from working 25 years for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Mary survived Harry by 26 years, dying in 1960. The house they built in Uhrichsville, and that the Robinsons added on to, survived them both and went on to serve for years as nursing home.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.