Friday, February 3, 2012

What Can Be Learned from a House

Remains of the 2316 Gladstone Ave. Home
I've been researching our family history for eleven years now.  I never knew how much information I could get from researching a HOUSE!  My geneabuddy, Liz Stratton, has tried to convince me that property records can contain valuable clues related to your family's history.  Taking her at her word, I decided to see what I could learn from this one house.  As it ended up, the property records did not disappoint.

The two-family that became known as 2314/2316 Gladstone was originally 632 Gladstone before the streets of Cincinnati were renumbered.  I traced it back to 1878 when the house was owned by George C. Spiegel. Here is what the records showed:

December 25, 1878, William Adelmann filed suit against George C. Spiegel for the mortgage + 8% interest totaling $1356.65.  Judge ordered the house sold.
Ownership of home transferred to William Adelmann and his wife on May 15, 1881.

Charles H. and Rachel Jones purchase the home for $1100.00 on June 16, 1882.

Rachel dies in 1892.  Charles continues to live in the 2-family with his three children and mother-in-law.

Charles marries Alwilda Collins December 26, 1898.  Mother-in-law moves out to a house around the corner at 405 Collins.
Charles dies on September 9, 1909.  Property is to be divided as follows:  one-half to Alwilda (wife) and the other half to be divided equally among three children (Edith, Fred and Leo).

And this is where it gets interesting -- on February 7th, 1910, the oldest daughter, Edith Jones Hodges, filed suit against everyone who has a claim on the property in order to get her share. Defendants include:  Emery Hodges, Charles F. Jones, Norine Jones, Leo W. Jones, Melissa Jones and Alwilda Collins and the Columbia Bank and Savings Co. asking the Common Pleas Court for "partition."  It was decided that the "premises could not be divided without manifest injury." The property was then appraised and assigned a value of $2750.00 and ordered sold by the sheriff. On September 1, 1910 the house was sold for $1850.00 to Charles Ulrich.  At the time of the sale, Fred and Norine and Leo and Melissa were sharing one part of the house and Alwilda was living in the other.  Based on Cincinnati City Directories, the new owners must have allowed Alwilda to rent her part for the next couple of years, as this continued to be her residence.

The house was owned by Charles Ulrich and his wife, Elizabeth, following her husband's death in 1922 for 44 years.  In 1930, the City of Cincinnati purchased part of the back of the property from Elizabeth for Columbia Parkway.  She received $9000 in this transaction.  The house was sold in 1954 to Ben Simkin for $1.00 and other considerations. Three other owners purchased the home in 1975, 1985 and 1991.  In 1984, the value of the home and property for tax purposes was $12,915.

To our knowledge, the home was torn down in 1996. My brother Tim was working for a company that was asked to bid on the demolition.  All that remains now is overgrown brush, a stone wall and front steps, railroad tracks, and a great view of the Ohio River.

Dusty and Tim at the top of the front steps


  1. I haven't used any yet but I guess I should. Even though, now that I think of it, all the houses were sold and not inherited. It's always sad to see a house now as a pile of rubble or tumbled down.