Monday, February 27, 2012

House of Musicians

One of my favorite things to do is look at homes that are for sale via the real estate websites. So I was snooping around the Over-the-Rhine area and stumbled upon a house at 1223 Jackson Street.
1223 Jackson - Source

It caught my eye because it is a small single family in between much taller buildings. It also has a low list price because it is currently a shell in need of a total rehab.

1887 Sanborn Map - Source

It appears the home was built in approximately 1864 for the Leopoldt family. The patriarch was Wilhelm Leopoldt and I found his obituary which was original printed in German in Der Deutsche Pioniere, a monthly magazine issued by the Deutsche Pioniereverein (Union of German Pioneers) founded in Cincinnati.
 Leopoldt, Wilhelm
(Obituary) Member of the Pionier Verein . He was well-known to everyone for, as a musician, he participated in the theater, German balls, and dances. He was born on 29 Dec 1822 in Muelverstedt, Prussia, and emigrated with his parents in Jun 1836 to America. The family departed via Bremen and arrived in New York during August (1836). He accompanied his family to Chillicothe and became employed as a steward aboard a canal boat between Chillicothe and Portsmouth.  On the same boat our well-known citizen F.X. BRAUNSTEIN was a cabin boy. After a year’s time, Leopoldt left this job and settled in Cincinnati in November 1837. He worked first as a food vendor at the National Theater and thereafter, ran a bar mainly frequented by musicians. Leopoldt also worked as a relief musician (contrabass). Soon, he was in constant demand as a bass player. He then moved his saloon to Main Street near Thirteenth Street; it was called the North Star House.

About this time Leopoldt became an enthusiastic founder of the German theater in Cincinnati. The history of this theater is set forth on page 27 of this volume of the Pionier. He then took up the study of the trombone. (There follows a humorous tale of his performance on this instrument.) He became agent for the Jefferson Hall, then the most prominent concert hall in the city.

As with all the older Germans of the city, Leopoldt was an energetic participant in politics. He was a member of the Democratic Party and was elected several times to be the tax assessor in the Tenth Ward. He died on 3 Jan 1875 after a lengthy illness.
Wilhelm was married to Magdalena. According to the 1900 Census, they had 9 children but only 3 were still alive at that time. Their children were:

                Lorenz b. 1848 d. 30 Jan 1867 Cincinnati, died from Typhus
                William b. 1849 d. before 1860
                Herman b. 1854 d. 13 Nov 1890 Cincinnati, died from heart failure, married Amelia Lauther
                Louisa b. 1857 d.? married Adolph Canis, lived in NYC
                William b. 1860 d.?
                Leanora Magdalena b. 1862 d. 1862 – 7 days old
                Edward b. 1865 d. ?
                Two unknown

Their sons also followed in the footsteps of their father as musicians. When Herman died in 1890 in Cincinnati, the following was printed in New York Dramatic Mirror:
Herman Leopoldt, for ten years orchestra leader at the People's Theatre, died suddenly.  Deceased was about forty years old, and leaves a widow and one child. The remains were interred 16 in Spring Grove Cemetery, and the entire force of the employes at Heuck's and the People's attended the funeral.
After Wilhelm's death in 1875, Magdalena continued to live in the home with her children until they moved away. She also rented rooms to working families. The city directories shows she last lived at 1223 Jackson Street in 1905. Magdalena moved to other Cincinnati homes with her son, Edward and by the 1910 Census, she is living in New York City with her daughter, Louisa and her family. Census records also show that her sons, Edward and William are also living in New York City after 1910. Magdalena died May 22, 1916 at the age of 94. Her body was returned to Cincinnati to be buried with her husband at the Walnut Hills Cemetery.

After this long period of ownership by one family, the home was occupied by renters in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 Censuses.
1910 US Census -
1920 US Census -
1930 US Census -
By looking at these census records, you can see how the residents of Over-the-Rhine changed from being  German immigrants to Appalachian immigrants in the 1930's.

1904-1930 Map - Source
I wonder how much beautiful music those long standing walls have heard over the years. It is time for this home to be returned to a single family, maybe to another family of musicians. I hope someone purchases and restores this home to honor the Leopoldt family and all the others who lived here.

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