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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Christian Null Homestead Is A Springboro Landmark

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 22 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland:Heritage Press, 1979) page 15
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

A grand celebration was held Sunday, August 18, 1996, at the old Christian Null homestead, located high atop a picturesque hill in a portion of the Heatherwoode golf course, just south of Springboro, Ohio.
The Springboro Historical Society, a fairly young organization, accepted the challenge of restoring this two and one-half story log house to its original condition. Many objections were raised regarding the project. However, with the vision and perseverance of the local Society, plans were made, executed, and today stands a monument to the past, which everyone can be proud of.
In February 1995, two members of the Society, Charlie Logan and Gil Morris, introduced a plan to the Historical Commission, of which they are members, to completely renovate the decaying Null dwelling. In turn, the Commission presented their plans to the Springboro City Council, and approval was given. City Manager, Ed Doczy, paved a way for the project, developing both a viable and financial plan.
Before the project got underway, an estimate of $200,000 was given to the Society for restoration of the building. However, Charlie and Gil accepted the monetary challenge and the job was done for less than $25,000.
Actual renovation began in March 1995. Volunteer work crews from the Springboro Historical Society, the Historical Commission, and Springboro City Council worked Saturdays throughout the on-going process.
Charlie and Gil worked every Tuesday and Friday, weather permitting. They were joined in late March, 1996 by Paul Travisano, who had moved to the area from Chicago. And a tip of the hat to Charlie's daughter, Jane Perkins, for her part in the project. In all, more than 60 volunteers helped in the renovation.
One of the first jobs, and most assuredly the most difficult, was to place the dwelling back on its foundation, which was a mere four inches off. One reason given for this misalignment was the large earthquake of 1811.
Charlie and Gil hooked the old building up with cables and ingenious contraptions. Constant pulls were given. Finally, with one extra large groan, it slipped perfectly back into place.
The inside has been completely redone, except for a few minor adjustments. Five sections of logs were replaced on the east side. Most of the foundation was rebuilt, and the ground floor in the main room was restored. In this room is a giant fireplace that a person can stand upright in. All the windows and doors were replaced.
In late 1995, Chris Payne, a Springboro High School sophomore, organized a group of scouts and their parents to do the chinking.
A porch was built onto the west side and both exterior wings were re-boarded.
Gil and Charlie also used juvenile offenders assigned by Lebanon courts as workers.

The Christian Null Story

Our story begins in Virginia over 200 years ago. A somber group of men made their way to the home of the Henry Null family. They led a riderless horse and carried a saddle, sword and side arms. Tragedy had struck. Their son Jacob was a casualty of the Revolution.
Especially affected by this bleak circumstance was 12-year old Christian Null. With the death of his brother, Jacob, Christian decided to carry the Null family name forward, and so at this tender age, he enlisted into the Revolutionary War.
At age 20, Christian had matured and achieved skills in the ways of the wilderness, more so than men twice his age. His father, having observed his skills and restlessness, gave him $500 and a mission. His assignment was to migrate westward to the grand frontier and purchase better farmland for the family.
His travels took him overland to the Monongahela River. Here he offered himself for work in order to secure passage on a flatboat heading down the Ohio River. The men refused him, but the ladies of the craft thought otherwise, speculating that he might be of some help.
In just three days Christian was selected as helmsman. As they floated down the long winding river, a life-threatening event occurred, the horses had kicked loose a board beneath the water level. Water quickly poured into the craft. The men stood frozen while the women screamed uncontrollably.
Christian jumped into the river, grabbed the loose board and forcibly pushed it back onto its pegs. All was not well yet, as the travelers bailed endlessly. Eventually, they reached their ultimate destination at Limestone (Maysville), Ky.
Christian worked, saved his money, and not until the Indian Peace Treaty in August 1795 could he fully explore the Ohio country. Many trips were made north of the Ohio until at last he found his home-site high atop a hill above Clear Creek.
Word was sent back home to Virginia for his brother Charles to join him in building a cabin on his newly purchased land. A beehive of activity was now being performed in this new location. Large walnut and oak trees were being felled and carried to the pinnacle. A sizable two and one-half story home, constructed of square-hewn logs, was now being crafted. Stone fireplaces, laid with rock from the valley of Clear Creek, were fashioned into each floor. One of these marvels consisted of a built-in oven. The second floor and attic accesses consisted of a narrow stairway, which turned 180 degrees in just six feet.
It was in the year 1798 that the Null log home was built. It is the oldest on-site exposed log building in Warren County. After completion, Christian returned to Virginia for the rest of the family. By 1802, the Null family had settled into their new log home.
Christian Null was born in Harrisonborough, Rockingham Co., Virginia, in 1770. He married Kathryn Bone of Oldtown, Allegheny Co., Maryland. They raised all twelve children in their Clear Creek home.
After Christian's death, in 1832, Kathryn and the children moved westward. He is buried in the United Brethren cemetery on land that belonged to the Null family descendants until 1953.
The Taylor family assumed ownership of the Null residence in 1832. During their tenure two cribbed wings and a full-sized cellar were added. Some years later the cellar was used as a refuge for fugitives of the Underground Railroad.

The Celebration


The superb Centerville Community band supplied music for the celebration. An estimated 250 persons attended the ceremonious event. Fifty-seven Null family members were on hand, one from as far away as Salina, Kansas, and another from Mobile, Alabama. Don Ross, Historical Society President, presented opening ceremonies. Speakers at the occasion were: Tom Sproat, site expert; Bob Wilson, Historical Society Vice-president and Historical Commission Chairman; Ray Wellbrook, Springboro Mayor; Ed Doczy, Springboro City Manager; and Bob Schaefer, Springboro Deputy Mayor. Charlie Logan and Gil Morris gave renovation recollections. All are Historical Society members.
Society members along with Marlin Heist, former owner, and Emma Jane Null, family descendant executed ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Null family members performed the second part of this ceremony.

Future Plans

Future plans for the building include group tours and will serve as a casual historical museum. Also, an annual Christmas event is in the plans. The city's Historical Commission and the City Council will periodically schedule events.
Already, Nancy Morris, local genealogist and Society trustee, has annual summer plans for traditional craftsmen and history experts. She is presently teaching the youngsters the art of spinning.
As the writer gazed at the delightful landscape from high atop this hill, my question was answered as to why a home in this setting. Surrounded by golf fairways and greens, and by stately homes, the old Christian Null log home stands as a symbol of the past with a link to the present.
(The writer greatly appreciates the assistance of Don Ross, Springboro area historian, for supplying material for this article.)


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This page created 22 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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