Sometimes you have to get off the main streets to find a historic home with an interesting story. This home’s story is more about the women who lived in the home around the turn of the 20th century.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
When the Brown family immigrated to Harrison County, Ohio from their home state of Pennsylvania in the late 1840s, one of the children was a son named John Brown (1828-1907). John’s father passed away before 1850, leaving his Irish-born mother to raise her four children on their Washington Township farm. John married a neighbor’s daughter, Mary Jane Quillen (1825-1923), in 1852 and the couple started a family of their own. Ultimately the couple had only two children; a daughter named Sophronia (1853-bef. 1880) and a son named Christopher Quillen (1858-1888).
The Brown’s continued to live in Washington Township, Harrison County as the children attended school and helped out around the farm. After completing his schooling, Christopher learned the trade of dentistry though it is impossible to know from whom. He travelled throughout Harrison, Guernsey and southern Tuscarawas County offering his dental services. During one of those trips he met Lola Montez Johnson (1861-1955), the daughter of Madison Township, Guernsey County farmer George M. Johnston (1832-1921) and his wife Mary Brown (1841-1905). Tragedy struck round the same time, when the Brown family suffered the loss of their daughter Sophronia.
Christopher married Lola in December 1881 and, initially, they moved into the household of his parents in Harrison County. Two daughters soon followed between 1882 and 1886. Perhaps it was Christopher, looking to expand his dental practice, who recommended that the family rent their farm in Harrison County and move to the city of New Philadelphia. They did, and the Brown’s purchased land just north of the city from Theodore F. Sargent in 1887 and began construction of a home there. Meanwhile, Christopher continued to circulate throughout the nearby counties treating his patients.
The house that John Brown constructed on the lot on what was then called Third Street was a wood frame house in the very popular Italianate architectural style. It was of the very common simple hipped-roof style with decorative corbels under the eaves, beautifully framed windows, and a porch that extended across the front façade of the the home. Some of these features are still visible on the home today, despite the years. Unfortunately for the Browns, after returning from on one of his trips to his patients only a year later, Christopher became ill and died in July 1888. Lola, her daughters, and her in-laws continued to reside in the home after Christopher’s death.
Whether or not Lola Brown needed income from working is unknown but, regardless, she took work as a seamstress in the shop of Samuel S. Urfer (1860-1920). When her daughters finished their own schooling, they too found work in one of the city’s many stores as well until marrying and moving away from New Philadelphia. After the death of her father-in-law in 1907, and her mother-in-law’s return to Harrison County, Lola’s father and sister moved into the house on Third Street. Lola, and now her sister as well, continued to work as seamstresses in local shops around town.
As the years went on other members of Lola’s family lived in the home at times but, after the death of her father in 1921, Lola was the sole occupant of the home. Her daughters and their families would visit her regularly, as did members of the extended Brown and Johnston families over the next couple of decades. Lola Montez Johnston Brown was 94 years old when she died in the summer of 1954 after living almost her entire life in the home built when she was only newly married.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.