Della shares a couple of newspaper articles about Little Antioch, then moves on to begin remembering downtown businesses and their owners, including the De Normandy family associated with what is now the Yellow Springs Hardware.
In an article about the De Normandy family is a letter about early student life at Antioch.
All entries in the series are indexed on the “Blog Multi-Part Series” page (click on tab above and scroll to second group).
Little Antioch and the House of the Reed Family
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News of June 34, 1910
History of Little Antioch
When the word went out that the Little Miami Railroad would pass this point it was the signal that here would be a place for business, hence the rapid building of the town. In all directions from early morning until the evening was heard the sound of the saw and hammer. Every man was busy fitting up a place for his own special industry and in making a home for his family or assisting others in it. This gave work to many aritzans. To supply the needs of all these came the merchant and grocer, and by the time the railroad was finished. In 1846 several persons were located here and modern Yellow Springs was well established upon the west side of the stream.
One of the early demands of this hastily built town was a school for the young children, and Judge Mills, ever alive to the necessity of educating, put up a one story building on Xenia Avenue for a private school. It is the same one now belonging to and occupied by Miss Elizabeth Reed (1930 Leon Reed) who added a second story and otherwise improved it.
It was in this building that as very little children, Ellen, Judge Mills’ eldest child, daughter of his first wife, and Kate Starry daughter of his second wife by a former marriage, and a little later Emma, daughter of Col. J. E. Wilson, with a number of other children began their studies. Soon after this a public school building was put up on the west side of Elm street and many children, who had attended the Knox school, a mile east of town on the Clifton pike, went to Elm Street school when it opened.
Mrs. E. I. Woodbury, wife of Dr. Woodbury, first dentist of this place, was the first teacher of this private school, and then Mrs. Andrews, who is still fondly remembered by the tots of that time, who are now gray haired men and women.
In the very early 05’s when Antioch College was in course of erection Judge Mills with an eye ever to the improvement and beautification of the town, conceived the idea of “Little Antioch”, as a school for small children. To that end he employed as architect, Mr. Hiram Brown who had built for the occupancy of his own family the house now belonging to T. P. Carr, (Dr. Adams) at corner of Corry street and Dayton street. Mr. Brown was a man of plain and unassuming manners but possessed of fine ability in his profession, in fact he was a genius.
He grasped the idea and, being given “carte blanche” by Judge Mills evolved “Little Antioch”.
When the building was finished, there gathered in it the young children of Judge Mills, Col. Wilson, Hon. Aaron Harlan, of Benjamin Ready, who came here from Cincinnati and owned and operated the depot and store connected with it, Nathaniel, the sone of Wm. R. King, Lizzie, daughter of Prof. C. S. Pennell, who was teacher of Latin in the college, Ainsworth, the little son of Prof. J. C. Zsachos, Nanie Applegate, Hallie Blake, and for a time Ziegler and Casmir, the two little nephews of the renowned Louis Kossuth, whose two sisters, Mme. Meszleny and Mme. Zulvavawk, came from Hungary to America when he did and remained .
When at this placed their home was at the Yellow Springs House. Several college professors with their families boarded there. A little later on Mr. Frank Grinnell and family made their home at the hotel while their house was being built at Spring Lea; their two older children attended Little Antioch, and these children, already mentioned, with a number of other well-cared for little ones, made up the attendance there in the first years of its existence. Mrs. Andrews is mentioned as the first teacher. She going to it from another school, but was only there a short time. She was followed by Mrs. G. S. Blake, who with her husband and little son boarded at the Yellow Springs House. She was the niece of Horace Mann, and sister of Prof. C. S. Pennell, and Prof. R. S. Pennell, afterward A. S. Dean. Mrs. Blake is well and fondly remembered to this time by her pupils of Little Antioch.
Then came Miss Marion Fuller, sister of the two talented writers, Frances A. and Meta V. Fuller. But probably no teacher at Little Antioch is better remembered or was better loved as a teacher than Miss R. S. Rice. She always had order and never needed a rod for chastisement. She won the love of her pupils and kept it.
After some years Little Antioch was occupied as one of the departments of the public schools, when, at different times students from the college taught there, one of whom was Mrs. J. W. Chambers.
In 1869, Mrs. Wells and her sister, Miss Harriet Wells, visited their sister here. They so much admired Little Antioch, that they bought and fitted it up as a dwelling. They lived there and enjoyed it for many years.
Mrs. Wells’ two children, Russell and Emma, grew up there and received their education while there. After his graduation at the college Russell was retained there as a professor until he went to the editorial work in Boston, when the family went east and the house was rented.
Judge Mills deserves the thanks of the public for having made Little Antioch a marked and beautiful feature of the place, for it is unique and beautiful after the lapse of more than half a century. Its location was well chosen and could not have been improved upon. All who pass up and down may enjoy its beauty. The old oaks around it are beyond price.
Those who as happy children, playing beneath their shade, “have flown like morning clouds, a thousand ways.” Ellen Mills Hollingshead lives at Danville, Ky. Kate Starry’s home is in New York city. Elisha and William Mills were caught up in the general westward rush where the former died and the latter became a railroad man. Nannie Mills Sloan’s home is in Chicago, her sister Julia Mills Chapman lives in Cleveland, and Charles Mills, the youngest, who was quite gifted, attained high recognition in the Congregational church in which he was a minister, also in the legislative halls of the conservative state of Massachusetts. His home for many years was at Newburyport, Mass., where he died.
“Little Antioch” stood in the point where Walnut street joins Xenia Avenue where the home of Mr. John Snyder is located, it having been torn down to make room for the Snyder home.
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Old Reed House Was Originally A School
By J N Wolford
The old Reed house, a landmark of early Yellow Springs, is soon to pass into history. Situated next to the Miami Deposit Bank, which recently bought it, it was built, first for a private school, in the 1840’s by William Mills, the founder of Yellow Springs, and was one of the very first public buildings on Xenia Ave. The first business house stood on the site of the Deaton Hardware store, it was a small frame building.
The little school building was a one-story, one-room affair which eventually became the living room of the Reed house.
It is know that Mills had early decided to make the new town an educational center even before the location of Antioch was considered. He had been instrumental in having built the Elm st. school in 1845, now the home of Mrs. Harry Hackett, and which was the first public school in town. It was in operation at the same time as the Xenia Ave. school. Mills had plans for the construction of an academy, as a part of his educational center, but when he found that Antioch might be located here he concentrated on accomplishing it.
When Antioch was built in 1853, Mills decided that the little Xenia Ave. school building was not appropriate so he had “Little Antioch” built on the site of the present Snyder house, in the triangle between Xenia Ave. and Walnut St. It was a very unique building, built somewhat on the lines of Antioch.
The abandoned school building was used for different purposes thereafter: as a doctor’s office; as a meeting place for the Christian Church denomination before they built their church (now St. Paul’s) in 1856 and as an office for the great three story foundry that stood on Corry St., east of Antioch, in the 50’s and which was destroyed by fire in 1860. Its history is an interesting story which is too long to be produced here.
In the late 60’s the little building passed into the possession of the Reed family and by them enlarged to the big house it has become. Recently the house was bought by the Miami Deposit Bank from the heirs of the late Leon Reed and is being dismantled by Percy Mercer. He expects to reconstruct it on a lot near his home on Marshall St. The bank will use the lot for expansion.
When the new bank building was constructed a few years ago, another landmark was taken down. It was a two-story, two-room store building, where in the early days a general store was conducted by E. Tulley. He had built for his home, in the early 50’s, the large handsome old brick house on High St., now the Laist Apartments, and in that day it was considered one of the finest in town. It is related that it was so lavishly furnished that the owner, having contracted a large debt, was unable to meet the bills in the panic of ’59, when William Mills also lost most of his fortune.
And time marches on.
The Van Meter Block
Another hazy memory puts the Post Office next to the Reed home in one room in what was known as the Van Meter Block.
Mrs. McNair was the Postmistress. She was a sad faced lady who had lost her husband in the Civil War. She hadn’t much patience with children so we never lingered long after she gave us our mail.
The Van Meters seemed like very old people to me for he had white hair and a long white beard. They were Christian Church people and our good friends.
Sometimes on Sunday after church, they would go with us in our carriage for a picnic dinner in Taylor’s Woods.
They enjoyed Mother’s home cooking while we children thought the dried beef, cheese, crackrolls, and big lemon crackers, unusual and really a treat for they came from the store.
Mr. Van Meter kept a fairly good stock of groceries and a meager stock of other merchandise.
He did an honest and honorable business even tho his salesmanship was at times somewhat amusing.
If a child came in to buy a spool of blue thread when he had nothing but green thread to sell, rather than send the child away empty handed, he could persuade him that “green would do just as well” — and perhaps it did.
At the corner of Short St. and Xenia Avenue stands what is known in Yellow Springs as the De Normandy building. It was erected in the late 1850’s by Dr. James De Normandy a physician of Huguenot descent who gave up his practice in Buck Co. Pennsylvania to come to Yellow Springs to educate his family under Horace. Mann.
The structure was originally a three story business building, a part of which was intended for use as a dormitory for students.
Fire partially destroyed the building in 1859 and the part that was rebuilt was made only two stories high.
Miss Lizzie De Normandy, daughter of Dr. James De Normandy retained ownership of this business block thru out her lifetime and made her home on the second floor of the two story portion.
(Facts gleaned from an article contributed by Mrs. Bessie Totten to the Antioch Alumni Bulletin)
Every school child knew Miss Lizzie for in the room below her living quarters she operated a small shop.
Here we bought our slates and pencils, our erasers and other small school supplies. She kept some other trifles too — things that might be attractive to a child. How well I remember a small wooly lamb! It had originally been white but many years on the shelf had reduced its coat to a dingy gray.
There was candy too, dealt out sparingly by the penny’s worth.
Living in quarters above the shop apparently was no great hardship for Miss Lizzy had made a small hole in her floor where thru the ceiling of the shop she could view a prospective customer announced by the tinkle of her doorbell.
If a sale were likely she came down and attended to the business.
The many stories that have come down to us give interesting sidelights to this unusual and really remarkable character.
Endowed with a keen and active mind she studied and travelled widely.
On the frequent occasions when she “ran over to Paris” she visited Galleries and made many copies from famous works of the “Old Masters.”
With these pictures she later on adorned the walls of her living room at home.
Small town gossip used to tell that Lizzie made these trips abroad entirely unencumbered by baggage. Certainly she stored many treasures in her own small active brain.
These she like to share with her friends in Yellow Springs when she invited ladies to little parties at her home.
At these parties food was meager and not too attractive, but conversation was brilliant and witty.
The sparkle of Miss Lizzy’s black eyes and the cackle of her ready laugh could give zest to any party.
[transcription of article]
by Bessie L. Totten, ’00
Just ninety-eight years ago last November, a young boy, James De Normandie, Jr., wrote a letter to his sister describing his first few days at Antioch. The letter was dated November 5, 1853. He writes:
I know not how to thank thee for thy letter coming as it did just at the proper time, while I was a “stranger in a strange place.” I think not however that I will not be quite as thankful for another while I am quite at home at the “great Antioch College.” Thee asks “if I was present at the dedication.” I arrived here on Tuesday and on the following day the exercises took place as follows: first prayer by Rev. . Lane of Pennsylvania. (This Mr. Lane was the first person I had, or even yet have seen, that I ever knew before.) Then presentation of three beautiful Bibles to the institution by Elder Phillips and reply by Horace Mann. Music by the band,Inaugural address by the president and benediction by Rev. A. A. Livermore. The services were very interesting and the attendance very large and the day pleasant.
On Thursday evening we surrounded for the first the the great Antioch table, and perhaps it may not be unsuitable for me to say that for the money at least, the boarding is very good. We lived however much better for a time upon the remains of the dedication feast which lasted some two weeks. At 9 o’clock on Thursday morning the examinations commenced. That examination which had caused me so much anxiety. When I left home I thought I was fully prepared to enter, or of course I would not have applied but when the first day of examination was over and I began to see how closely we were to be examined, I almost was certain I should not be admitted. Thursday morning we were questioned upon English Grammar. These questions were simple and few in number. I soon answered them and before ten o’clock was through for the morning.. The remaining candidates soon came out and we had much sport talking of our slight examination and supposed we would have nothing harder, but when the afternoon arrived we found our great mistake. The Mathematical examination was quite minute and lasted until Friday afternoon. Then came modern and Ancient Geography, 12 questions in the first and 16 in the second. On Saturday morning 22 questions in Ancient History, and in the afternoon the “lingual examination.” We did not finish entirely and were told we would be farther examined on Monday. On Monday however they concluded we had done as well as we could do and after examining our papers, with six others I was admitted to the first “Freshman class of Antioch College.” It was quite a happy time for me, although I still would rather attend the preparatory school one year if I could. We are marked on a scale of eight and I believe the rule is, that as many as we miss are to be taken from it without we miss four, when we are marked “O.”
Perhaps a rapid glance of a day’s duty will not be unpleasing to thee. At ½ past 6 the bell rings to call the students up. I believe I have not risen later than ½ past 4 since I have been here. At seven again for breakfast. It is pleasant to see so many persons, teachers & taught, assembling around one common table (about 230). After all are seated, a blessing is asked by Horace Mann in the morning, Prof. Holmes at dinner, and Prof. Pennell at supper. Meals last ½ an hour. At ½ before 8 the bell rings and we all assemble in the chapel, a very beautiful room. “Punctuality” Mr. Mann says, “we are going to learn from the Sun,” so at 8 the bell again strikes, the door is locked and the services begin. 1st reading of Scripture by President Mann, singing by the choir and a prayer by one of the professors. After chapel exercises the Freshman class have their Mathematical recitation until 9. Then an hour to study their Greek recitation, and an hour to recite it. At 11, recess until ½ past. Then Latin recitation until ½ past 12. Now we are through for the day as regards reciting, but now comes the study time. It takes about 8 hours to get those three recitations. On Friday we have rhetorical exercises. It will not be long ere we will have to speak before all the rest. The school is quite anxious that the Freshman class shall speak in public. I hope we will not have anything of that kind to do this term at least. My time is very much taken up and I hope thee will write to me often without regards to my answering. I received C’s letter and will write as soon as possible.
With much love to all, affectionately
James de Normandie Jr.
The De Normandie name is familiar in the annals of Yellow Springs. The writer of the above letter was one of nine children born to Dr. James and Sarah Yardley De Normandie. He was just seventeen when he landed in Yellow springs armed with the spirit of curiosity and determined to get an education under Horace Mann. He earned his A.B. In 1858, M.A. In 1861. He wa appointed an Antioch trustee in 1874, resigned in 1880; served a second term in 1899-1900. From Harvard he received the degree of D.D. In 1862 and S.T.D. In 1898. He served the South Parish, Portsmouth, H.H., church from 1862 to 1883, then accepted a call to the First Church, Roxbury, Mass., 1883-1918. He was Editor of the Unitarian Review, 1878-1886, Trustee of the Boston Public Library, president of various…[article cuts off here]