Back to Newspaper Article Index

Source: The Zanesville Daily Courier, Zanesville, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Saturday, May 18, 1878, page 1, cols 3-4
Contributed by Ky Longley

The Early History of Zanesville
by E.H.C.

For the Courier,

    As we are passing down the shady side of life, it is pleasant to call to mind those whose forms were so familiar to the people of Zanesville three score years or more ago. Among the noted men of the early days of the city, was Jacob Houck. Every little urchin knew Jacob Houck. He was one of the pioneers. He arrived in Zanesville in 1806; was a stone and brick mason by trade; was engaged in that department for a number of years after his arrival here. He erected and owned the two-story hewed-log which stood on the site of the present residence of W. M. Shinnick. Frederick Houck, his brother, was engaged in the same department of industry in summer time, and in winter he gave his time and attention to dressing buckskins and manufacturing buckskin pantaloons, vests, and gloves for early settlers. He employed several girls, and kept them busily engaged making gloves.

    He lived in a small frame house on Main street, west of the residence of his brother. Jacob Houck, was at that time one of the leading stone and brick-masons in Zanesville. He worked on the old State House, in 1809. He was superintendent of the stone and brick work. He was a very large man physically, and was an inveterate smoker. In those days, when lighting his pipe, on the walls of a building, he could use his sun glass if the sun was shining, as he was so large that it was inconvenient for him to come down and go to the fire-place to procure a light. At that time there were no matches. The people, when they wished to light a fire, resorted to the sin glass, or steel and flint, and punk. In the winter of 1832 or 1833, the lucifer match was invented. The first match used was a piece of tape about six inches long, with one end coated with a combustible matter. These matches were light by drawing the strip of tape through a sand paper. They were put up in bundles, and kept in boxes. Afterwards, small pieces of wood were coated with combustible material, and these matches being so much more convenient the tape matches entirely disappeared and wood matches soon came into general use. A lady informed the writer a few days ago, in a conversation, that she well remembers hearing Mr. Houck tell me about using his sun glass to light his pipe, while upon the walls of the State House. The lady was well acquainted with Mr. Houck and family, and is a connection by marriage. He built the dwelling house of Alexander McLaughlin, in 1811, on the corner of Market and Sixth streets, known afterwards as the Van Horn homestead, and in 1812 built the stone wall around the grounds where the residence of Willis Silliman stood, at the head of Min street, known afterwards as the proper of Dr. Brown.

    Thomas Goff was an apprentice to Mr. Houck, and learned the stone and brick-mason business with him. William Goff also worked for him. Mr. Houck built the first pier - under the forks - of the upper bridge, where the toll-house afterwards stood. It was constructed of limestone, taken from the bottom of the river under the site of the present bridge. The outside wall of the pier was four feet thick, and the center was filled with loose stones and dirt. These loose stones were not laid in mortar and grouted, as is done now. This pier was built in 1813. The remaining piers were made of wooden trestles, set in the river and cribbed around with logs, bolted, or spiked together with iron bolds. The vacant space around the trestles was filled in with loose stones, and then the logs and stones were covered over with heavy oak plank, spiked down to the logs. The writer will, at some future time, give the history of this bridge, giving the time when the erection of the first bridge was commenced, name of architect, &c., &c.

    Mr. Jacob Houck was the father of three sons and two daughters. His sons died while yet in the prime of life. His son George died in 1808, in his eighteenth year, and was buried on the hill at the head of Main street. His other sons died away from home, or at least one of them did. Mr. Houck weighed at the time of death over three hundred pounds. He died in 1816 of what is now known as Bright's disease. Mrs. Margaret Houck, his wife, died September 1, 1818, in the 59th (?) year of her age. His eldest daughter married William Conwell, and died on Sunday, August 1, 1917, while in the prime of life. Mr. William Conwell after his marriage kept books at Dillon's furnace at the halls of Licking; also sold dry goods on his own account for several years at the Dillon's furnace; afterwards kept store in Zanesville, in Mud Hollow, and died November 21, 1818, in the 39th year of his age. Mr. and Mrs. Conwell were the parents of Mrs. Isaac Campbell, now living in this city.

    Mr. Houck's youngest daughter married Capt. John Stanton of Zanesville, and died in 1823 or 1824. John Stanton became Capt. of the Zanesville Artillery, organized in the fall of 1818, by Captain Bliss of the firm of Cleveland and Bliss, silversmiths. On the Fourth of July, 1825, Captain Stanton, in command of the Zanesville Artillery, moved up to Licking Summit to take part in celebrating the completion of the Ohio canal. This was the first military organization in Zanesville after the war of 1812. Col. John Sockman, yet living here, was one of the first members of the organization. He had charge of the six-pounder at the celebration at Licking Summit. The Zanesville Artillery company carried off the honors. They fired faster, and the old cannon roared louder than any other cannon on the grounds. In fact, the firing was distinctly heard on the streets of Zanesville.

    Captain Bliss, as heretofore stated, organized the company. William Cassidy, I believe, was the second commander of the Zanesville Artillery, Captain Stanton third, and Asa R. Cassidy, fourth. Capt. Stanton was a strong Whig, and quite a politician; was elected Sheriff of Muskingum county in 1827, and died before the expiration of his term of office. Samuel Parker, the Coroner of the county at the dime, discharged the duties of the Sheriff, for the remainder of Mr. Stanton's term. Capt. Stanton was twice married. His last wife was Miss Susan Dulty.

    Mr. Houck's sons and daughters and two sons-in-law, died of consumption. Frederick Houck, the buckskin dresser, a few years after the death of his brother, moved to Kentucky, and after the death of his wife, married a widow lady whom he had courted and loved, when she was yet in her teens. And all these long years she still remembered her first love, and when the Old Ferryman had crossed the river, with the husband of one and the wife of the other, then it was that the happy days of the olden times came tripping one by one into their minds. The rides, the drives, the moonlight walks, the parties they attended in company with each other, the happy days the spent in the green groves, all these wandered back and linger long in the mind of each. And there visits were repeated day after day.

    Oh! the happy days of childhood. Can we ever forget them? Will the remembrance of those free and happy days still come tripping oftener and nearer the banks of the river? Can we ever forget the voice, the laugh, the sparkling eyes, the actions of that innocent little girl, into whose ear we first whispered the words of love? Those fairy forms still appear to us; those familiar voices will still continue to ring in our ears. Why they walk unbidden into our presence, talk, and laugh, and sing, and shout, just as they did a quarter of a century ago. Mr. Houck and his first love met and found they had loved each other through all those long years, and they married, and remained upon earth a number of years, in the enjoyment of happiness and contentment.

Return to the top of this page

This county is part of the USGenWeb Project, a non-profit genealogical resource web system, and is maintained by Denny Shirer < drdxBuckeyeEmporium.com >