|This "testimonial" was published in the 1929 Gordon-Van Tine catalog of Plan-Cut Homes, on page 26.|
Well, I'll give you a hint. It's not Eleanore C. Parsch of Elyria, Ohio (insert chuckle). But, I did think that for a day or so. Let me tell you the story that I have come to know, of the Parsch family of Elyria and Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
But, those census lists from 1940 and back, were hand written, and not always legibly. So, sometimes, it's harder than you'd think to find people. Parsch, for example, was transcribed as Parseh, as Persch, as Parish, and as Porsch. Luckily, Ancestry will usually include those variations of spellings, so that you can look at the original document yourself, and see if the person they've given you, with the crazy spelling, is actually the one you're looking for. Other times, the person you're looking for just might be in those records somewhere, but you just can't find him, because the names you're inputting are just not connecting with the mis-spelled entries Ancestry has logged for that person. Additionally, sometimes, you get a list of names, you start trying to look into them, and then you lose the original link to the original set of names... and, for some inexplicable reason, no matter how well you try to repeat the exact same set of research criteria, you just don't get the same set of names the next time... and you lose the person you thought might be a lead.
Suffice it to say, then, that researching on Ancestry can be a lengthy, puzzle-like search sometimes. And that's what this research was for me. It didn't really have to be, but I discovered something that made me über-curious to find out more than just where E. C. Parsch lived. I wanted to find out how E. C. Parsch was connected to THIS house:
|409 East Avenue, Elyria, Ohio|
|Holy cow. Lots has been added on to our original structure! The full building is now used as attorney's offices.|
But, that original building, the (porchless) GVT No. 535, was actually the home of E. C. Parsch! That is, Eleanore C. Parsch-- not Edward Christian Parsch, who is actually the writer of the testimonial, and owner of the blue GVT home in Cleveland Heights. In 1930, Eleanore C. Parsch was 22, and an art teacher at a Catholic school. And she was the daughter of the head of the house, Alexander P. Parsch. She was the only E. C. Parsch living in Ohio, that came up in my list the first time I put in my search criteria. I clicked on her, and saw that she was the daughter of the head of the house, and figured, "Ah... she's a teacher... she must have been the one in the family who felt the most comfortable writing the letter to the Gordon-Van Tine Company, about how happy the family was with their kit-home purchase." It made sense. After all, the last testimonial letter I followed, for this same model house (the full-size No. 535, in Pittsfield, MA), was written by the "Mrs." of the family (Mrs. Helen Hall-Mayberry).
|Summary of Eleanore C. Parsch from the 1930 census information.|
Did it give me pause that the address was in Elyria, Ohio, and not Cleveland Heights, Ohio? Welllll.... just a touch. But... I don't know where anything is in Ohio. I assumed that Elyria must just be a part of the Cleveland area, just like how houses are sometimes listed as being in Cincinnati, but are actually in Cheviot, or Wyoming, or Mt. Healthy, or Westwood.
|Here's a sample of a pretty legible handwritten entry in the census books (the 1930 Alex Parsch family at 409 East Avenue, Elyria, Ohio). But, they're definitely not always this legible.|
So, I excitedly posted the photo of this house, with its additions, and address, in our FaceBook group, for my fellow researchers to see.
|Here's what I posted... complete with a copy of the original testimonial photo.|
And so it went for a day or two. But, then, Springfield, Ohio researcher, Cindy (of the new blog, Sears Houses In Ohio), freed up some time to join us in the group one evening, saw my post, and said (gently, of course, because that is her gracious nature), "Uhh, Judy... how did you come to connect this house with that testimonial? Elyria isn't anywhere near Cleveland Heights."
Ummm... it isn't?
So.... I paused. And, I explained that I was just completely ignorant about where places were in Ohio, and told her how my thought process had gone... but, I realized that something was amiss.
Still, it sure was an amazing coincidence that the WRONG person, in the WRONG town, but with the SAME initials and last name, had the SAME model Gordon-Van Tine house. Don't you think that's odd?
|Bingo! Here's the correct E. Parsch.|
But, I went back to the drawing board at Ancestry. This time, among the many Parsch (or close to it) family name folks listed, was included "Edward Parsch", of... Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Ah ha! He wasn't there the first time. And, bingo! I popped his address into Google Maps, and there came before me the lovely, blue, porchless GVT No. 535. Duuh. Obviously, this was the correct house to match the testimonial to. So, I thought I'd start digging a little deeper to find out who Edward C. Parsch was, so that I could write a bit about his history, when I blogged about the house.
Still... I had the nagging question of why on earth, just by coincidence, these two households in two different towns, had the same model house, and people with the same first two initials and last name. So, I decided to dig a bit further back, to look at earlier census years, and into other family members, to see what connection might be there. I started with Eleanore's father, Alexander P. Parsch.
|Here's an example of some of the names -- with their odd spellings-- that came up in my next searches, as I began to dig into the rest of the family of Eleanore, and of Edward.|
|Father's Birthplace: Germany|
Mother's Birthplace: Ireland
Industry: Lumber Mill!??
Oh, and his father's birthplace was Germany, and his mother's birthplace was Ireland, okay, okay.
But... where else had I seen that?
|EDWARD Parsch: Father's Birthplace: Germany // Mother's Birthplace: Ireland|
Not so fast.
Because, as I dug back in waaaay earlier census years, I found that Alexander W. Parsch's German-born father, was named Christ (short for Christian). And his Irish-born mother was named Catherine... but, Edward C. Parsch's German-born father was named Peter, and his Irish-born mother was named Anna. So, they're not brothers??
|Alex P. Parsch's parents: Christ(ian) Parsch and Catharine Hubert were married on April 5th, 1859|
So, I had to double and triple check that these two guys were not brothers.
That set me to going back further in the census books, to try to find the household of Christian and Catharine Parsch, and then to find the household of Peter and Anna Parsch... to look at the children's names in each of these households.
You'd think that would settle things. But, it didn't. Because there was an Aleck among Peter and Anna's children... a brother to Edward. WAIT! Is this Alex P. Parsch? But, I thought his parents were Christ and Catherine, not Peter and Anna?? So, I had to start researching Aleck Parsch... and, he had similarities in his life, to Alex P. Parsch... but, he was clearly about 10 years younger, so he couldn't be Alex P.
|These are the households of the two Parsch families in 1880. |
Look at how many children they had with the same names!
So... it certainly was beginning to look like Alex P. and Edward C. were cousins. And both had a porchless GVT No. 535. In different towns in Ohio. It wasn't important... but, I absolutely had to find proof for myself that they were cousins. Everything pointed to their fathers being brothers... the German fathers, the Irish mothers, the shared names of half of their children. But... that meant that I was going to have to go back even farther, to try to find the parents of Peter Parsch and Christ Parsch, to see if they were brothers. I had already gone back to 1880 to find their households.
So... I dug to find Peter and Christ's birth years, and try to find if they were listed together as brothers somewhere, making their sons, Edward C. and Alex P., cousins.
This was difficult. First, I was thrown off by a listing in 1870 that looked like their family, in St. Louis, Missouri. But, that didn't pan out, because I then found listings in 1870 of Peter and his wife and children, in Ohio, and Christ and his wife and children, in Ohio.
The best that I could do -- and it's pretty good-- is the 1850 census in Cleveland, Ohio, showing a family listed as Perse, instead of Parsch. And, in this family, we have both a Christopher/Christian, and a Peter, as brothers, born in Germany in the correct years. It looks like their father's name was Peter, too (so, he was two generations before the owners of the two houses). I think this is pretty good proof that the fathers of Edward C. and Alex P. (Peter and Christian), were brothers, making our GVT-535-looking house-owners, cousins. Whew.
|Possibly, the Parsch family (the household that Christian and Peter grew up in as children).|
Two German Brothers married Two Irish Sisters
It looks like the two German brothers, Peter and Christ(ian) Parsch, married two Irish sisters, Anna and Catherine Herbert (a generation before our two houses were built). Anna and Catherine arrived in the United States in about 1855 or 56, with their father, Mason Herbert. Their mother, Catherine Murray, had died in Ireland in 1841(sources: Ancestry.com, various family trees). And, down the line, two sons from these two households -- cousins Alex P. Parsch and Edward C. Parsch -- somehow ended up with a house looking like the same model Gordon-Van Tine house, in two different towns in Ohio.
|Catherine Herbert Parsch, wife of Christian Parsch, mother of Alex P. Parsch |
(Alex P. lived in the stucco house at 409 East Avenue, Elyria, Ohio)
(source: photo uploaded by Bette Eakin on Ancestry.com)
|Denise Wells' caption for the Christian Parsch family photo, below.|
|Early 1890s: The family of Catherine Herbert Parsch and her husband, Christian Parsch.|
The "Alex" in the back row, is the owner of the stucco GVT-looking house in Elyria.
Source: Denise Higgins' entry on Roots Web, HERE.
(Click to enlarge)
But.... what about the Lumber Mill in all of this?
Part of what got me to finding out who was whose sibling and who was whose parent, was the further digging into Alex P.'s siblings... into the life of his brothers William, and John (John is the one who was first married to Lottie M., and then to a woman named Bertha). Because... I stumbled upon the fact that, in 1930, John Parsch owned... a LUMBER MILL! The same lumber mill that Alex P. was Superintendent in.
|John C. (yup, stands for Christian!) Parsch married Lotta (Lottie) Greeshamer in Ohio, in 1898. Same year, by the way, that Edward Christian Parsch married Frances (remember, they're the ones who wrote the testimonial).|
|1923 Elyria City Directory: William is President, Alex P. is Vice-President, and John C. is Secretary-Treasurer... and also Vice-President of the the Lorain County Mortgage & Title Company (a fact which is important later on).|
Somewhere along the way, however, by 1931, it was John Christian Parsch who ended up owning the Parsch Lumber and Coal Company. William, who had been president of the family business, had died, and had only daughters. So, when it was time for the business to move down to the next family member, it was John who became president, and Alex P. remained VP.
|This is the 1931 City Directory for Elyria, Ohio, showing William's wife Mary, as a widow; John C. as president of Parsch Lumber and Coal Company, and Alex P. as VP.|
|Old postcard showing the Parsch Lumber Mill and Coal Company and the Elyria Milling Company.|
In December, 1945, the company was celebrating its 75th anniversary, and a full-page ad was taken out in the local newspaper, the Elyria Chronicle Telegram. It appeared on page 3 of the December 1st issue.
|Here are the sons of Christian Parsch, all gone by 1945.|
Alex, on the right, was the owner of the stucco porchless GVT 535-look house.
|From a family tree on Ancestry.com|
What I find exciting, is that, in 1945, finally the women in the family were included in the business, in high places:
So, what about the two GVT Houses and the connection to the Lumber Mill?
Well, here is my supposition. There was an article in The American Lumberman publication, April 9, 1922, in which The Parsch Lumber Company is mentioned. The 3-paragraph article mentions that the company has been active in showing that folks can build a home more cheaply using local lumber, than through buying a mail order kit . The article mentions that the company has built a 2-story, 6-room, 1-bath home, all for just $4,000.
|Headline of the page of the publication that talks about the role the Parsch Lumber Company is playing in competing with mail-order home companies.|
|3rd paragraph. Source-click here|
|May 11, 1921, Parsch Lumber Co. advertisement in the Elyria Chronicle Telegram.|
|closeup of the same ad|
|Here's the ready-cut Gordon-Van Tine model that the Fernwood was probably being compared to.|
And, I found another Parsch Lumber Company ad that appeared numerous times throughout 1921, not specifically mentioning a particular house model, but encouraging folks to buy through them, rather than using a mail-order company... and... look at the house they show in the corner... it looks surely like the shape of a porchless GVT 535.
|This ad appeared in the Elyria Chronicle Telegram on May 2, 1921, and on several other dates.|
|Parsch Lumber, advertising their Plan Books, and encouraging you to buy your lumber "of" them.|
|There it is, surely: the NON GVT, plan-book lookalike to the porchless GVT 535. Don't you think?|
Yes! I've reached a final conclusion.
Of these two houses, the blue testimonial home at 2548 Kingston, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, built by Edward Christian Parsch, in/around 1925 (the build date supplied by the tax records), is, of course, a GVT kit home.
|Conclusion: YES, of course, since this is a testimonial house, this is an authentic GVT, porchless No. 535 (or whatever number it would have gone by, without a porch... in 1929, this porchless model was marketed as The Glencoe).|
And... The Coincidence?
I can't come to a definitive conclusion about the relationship between Edward C. Parsch having the GVT house, and Alex P. Parsch having the lookalike. I do believe the men were related -- definitely not brothers, but probably cousins. But, why the houses?
I wonder if there wasn't bad blood between them.
After all, Christian Parsch's sons -- Alex P., John C., and William -- all grew up to be wealthy, respected leaders in Elyria, with their big lumber company. Whereas Edward C., who apparently started off wealthy in Elyria (see article below), moved away from Elyria and worked in more blue-collar positions: Trucker, and, finally, Custodian in a school.
|Edward C. Parsch, owner of the GVT home in Cleveland Heights,|
lived there until his death, in October of 1936.
(Source: newspaperarchive.com • Elyria Chronicle Telegram, Oct. 12, 1936)
What do you think?
Update • September 2018
The Edward C. Parsch house is currently up for sale, having been beautifully restored and updated. These photos are some of those shown in the current listing, available here. Click on any, to see a larger image: