****Could Stop Trains
But Don’t Bother
By RUBY TOTTEN
VERMILION-ON-THE-LAKE – It probably wouldn’t appeal to the Nickel Plate Railroad’s sense of humor, but someday a member of the Harvey Emmerich household might flag down one of its streamliners and clamber aboard.
While it’s doubtful that this will ever come to pass, an old agreement made sometime around 1880 provides for just that.
Resourceful perpetrator of this agreement was Adam Baumhart, Mrs. Harvey Emmerich’s grandfather. Adam gifted the land back of his home on Lake Road just east of Vermilion-on-the-Lake, to the railroad on condition that the train would stop and give passenger service to the family whenever needed.
IT IS JUST one of the many fascinating aspects of this old home which has stood for 130 years and has been in Mrs. Emmerich’s family for 90 years.
When the fine old frame structure, which stands close to the highway on the north side was built, John Quincy Adams was president and Abe Lincoln was only a strapping lad of 17. The first U. S. passenger railroad was yet to be built and Victoria, Queen of England, was still a child of nine. The telegraph was unheard of, and the Civil War wasn’t to be fought for 35 more years.
LITTLE WONDER that Mrs. Emmerich, a tiny curly-headed woman nearing 60, has resisted all efforts to buy the property. However, over the years she has lost 46 feet of an original 60 foot front yard to the state for highway projects. In the current road widening the state chopped down several magnificent trees, one of which was a huge elm which was believed to part of Ohio’s virgin forest.
“It was like losing a member of the family,” she said.
The house was built in 1826 by Judge Henry Brown who founded Brownhelm Township and became its first judge. Apparently he was the township’s first postmaster too, for in her basement, Mrs. Emmerich had the tall old cupboard which sat in the living room and through which, by the way of a latched door in the center, the mail was handed out. The mail arrived via stagecoach. The cupboard is still functioning though perhaps not quite so illustriously – its innards now hold canned fruit.
ALSO IN THE basement you can see the hand hewn beams with wooden pins that form the home’s structural framework, and also that of the big old barn across the highway. The barn is one of the last few out buildings on the property that has withstood the press of time and weather. The house itself, while weathered, did not require new siding until about 10 years ago.
Foot-thick walls and indestructible woods have made very little change necessary in the interior. Only that for the comfort of the occupants including modernizing and some diminishing of the giant rooms, has been done. Eight great fireplaces have been filled in to conserve heat.
The family has retained a beautiful hand carved cherry mantlepiece which graced the living room fireplace. The woodwork throughout the living room is of this cherry wood and an arch between livingroom and dining room is carved to match the mantel.
MRS. EMMERICH has estimated that there are about 300 Baumhart descendants living in the area, including her brothers, Kenneth and Edward who live nearby. A third brother, Louis, is now dead.
A tragic tale accounts for the fact that there are not so many descendants on the Herwig side of the family, maiden name of Grandmother Baumhart. The sole male Herwig, Grandmother Baumhart’s brother, was drowned in Beaver Creek along with his expectant wife and five children as they were on their way to church one Sunday. No one ever knew exactly what happened, but their bodies as well as those of the horses drawing the buggy were found in the creek. It was assumed that the frightened horses crashed through the bridge rail and into the stream during a storm.
Grandfather Adam and his wife died in the old home in 1893 and 1904 respectively, as did father Jacob in 1944 and mother, Mary Krapp Baumhart, in 1935. Mrs. Emmerich, her father, and her daughter were all born in the same bedroom, and the daughter, now Mrs. John Morrison, was born on the same date and day of the week as Jacob, August 19, on a Monday.
THE BAUMHART BLOOD line extends through five generations who have lived in the house. Bringing up the tail end of this lineal sequence is 12-year old Robert Morrison, youngest of four Morrison children who with their father and mother live with the Emmerichs.
Mrs. Emmerich doesn’t think the Nickel Plate Railway has to lose any sleep about any members of her family flagging down the train.
“I don’t know what on earth we’d want to do it for,” she said, and added she didn’t even know if she could find her copy of the old agreement.