Thursday, January 11, 2024

Farmhouse in Winton Woods?

I am a big fan of Great Parks of Hamilton County, and my family tries to camp at Winton Woods at least once a year, ever since I was little. We also enjoy their hiking trails, walking/biking trail, and their many picnic areas. Parky's Farm is a great experience for all ages, and I even remember a school field trip to the old Parkour Trail (does that still exist?)! 

2019; Google Street View

But I have often wondered about the old farmhouse, on the park road, just west of the Winton Road entrance, behind Winton Center. So of course, I just had to dig more into it! Who owned the house before the park was created?

Early deed records show transfers from John Cleves Symmes to Andrew Wilson to Abraham Roll (who also owned a very large parcel just to the north) to Roll's son-in-law, Robert Preston in 1825. In 1839, Preston sold to Ogden Ross, whose house appears on the 1847 map. Ross sold just 10 years later to Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Oberheu, who is listed in the 1850 Census as living in Cincinnati with no occupation, but worth over $5,000 in real estate. His sons, Ernst, Frederick, and Louis were successful grocers. 

1847 Map showing the house of Ogden Ross

1856 Map showing the 84.75 acres owned J. H. F. Oberhue

There are no records showing the Oberheus ever living at this location in Springfield Township. In 1867, they added an additional 25 acres to their property, making it over 109 acres. Johann died in 1859, leaving the estate to his children, and in 1899, a court case was brought forward to settle the estate for the grandchildren. John Hammel. husband of Sophia Oberheu Hammel, who was Johann's granddaughter, purchased the entire parcel for $5,300, keeping the land in the family.

It appears from a post on the Greenhills Historical Society Facebook page, that the Oberheu family rented their property to Heinrich Reinke. Known as Henry, he is listed as a farmer in this area in the 1870 and 1880 Census, but is not an owner of the land. Check out the full story of one of the Reinke descendants of the story of his grandmother living here on their page.

Courtesy of Greenhills Historical Society

1869 Map showing the initials of brothers Ernst, Louis, and Frederick Oberhue

1884 Map

1914 Map showing John Hammel as the owner

Sophia and John must have had an interesting relationship. John was a cigar maker living on York Street. His first wife had died in 1889, leaving him with three boys, one who also died the same year as his mother and another in 1899. John married Sophia the following year, and they had three more sons. They are living together in 1900 and 1910, however, in the 1920 and 1930 Censuses, Sophia and two of her sons, Maurice and Gilbert, are living at the family farm in Springfield Township, with the sons listed as farmers. Sophia died at the farm in 1935, but her obituary listed her as John's "beloved wife". The same is listed in John's obituary from 1941. They are buried together at Walnut Hills Cemetery. Very curious!

In 1936, John Hammel, sold over 103 acres for $26,250 to the United States, as part of the huge development that became the Village of Greenhills, a federal-developed "greenbelt" city. The US bought over 6,000 acres, with about 800 acres being used for the village. The rest was planned as green space to surround the village and for farms to be leased by the government.


Cincinnati Enquirer; Oct 25, 1948; p. 14

In 1939, the Hamilton County Park Board leased over 900 acres from the federal government, to be used as a park. However, plans were put on hold due to levy failures and World War II. Finally, a levy was passed in 1948, and a few developments occurred in the park, like an archery range and golf course, first opened in 1951.  However, the Army Engineers wanted to use the West Fork of the Mill Creek as a reservoir and for flood control to protect the Millcreek Valley. The reservoir became Winton Lake, finally finished in 1953.


Cincinnati Enquirer; May 22, 1949; p. 147

Cincinnati Enquirer; Jan 2, 1949; p. 56

The house became the central office for all of the Hamilton County Park District until a newer facility was constructed in the 1970s. The new offices have been expanded over the years, but the house also continues to contain offices for various departments of the district as well. I am sure the Ross, Oberheu, and Hammel families would be surprised that their little brick farmhouse still exists to serve all the residents of the area with our amazing park district!

1932 -
The house is just left of the center.

1960 -

1984 -

1996 - CAGIS

2010 - CAGIS

2023 - CAGIS

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