History of the Old Brick House in Defiance, OH
Artist Scott Baker
The meeting of the three rivers had been an ancient Indian gathering area, local and far tribes would congregate not only for material trading but political associations for themselves and the French and English. The English had established a stockade in the 1780’s. The French gave the river the name Auglaize or Grand Glaize.
Not only was this a strategic (because most rivers in the area traveled to
this central spot) area but one of great beauty and abundance. At one time
in the 1790’s this was also know as the Black Swamp. One the largest Indian councils assembled to discuss peace or war; these were composed of the chiefs of all the tribes in the northwest along with Seven Nations of Canada, men of the
Gora Nation, the forty-seven Chiefs and 6 nations of the New York tribes, even many which could not be accounted by name.
Among these men were remnants of Moravian Christian Indians. Chief Blue Jacket of the Shawnee (A Brigadier General for the British)
he lived only a mile from the mouth of the Auglaize. General Anthony Wayne would to battle between the Indians, British and French Canadian. Eventually he established a secure area at the point where the Auglaize and Maumee meet.
On August 17, 1794, after eight days labor with crude implements, a fort
would be completed. Standing at the confluence, General Wane expostulated
* “ I defy the English, Indians and all the devils
of hell to take it !" thus it was proclaimed Fort Defiance. The enemy vacated all
settlements and fields. Fort Winchester would be constructed in 1812. Gone would be the cultivated corn, maple sugar production and the gathering of wild grapes, honey; the “Grand Emporium” of the Indians. It would be a new order of the day a gateway for a new land, although some French traders would still trade furs and such with the red man. The Indians ceded their lands on Sept 29 1817 and townships, including Defiance County, were surveyed in 1820's. The city proper was survey in November of 1822, Defiance would become the county seat and be incorporated 1836.
Hicksville would become the county seat. After pertaining the government local
leaders would win their plea for Defiance to be recognized. On the east side of the Auglaize loomed a wilderness, a tract of land would become Joseph
Landis and his wife Mary's. The land grant of 1824 was signed by James Monroe and in time a lovely
Greek revival home would be erected at the site along the Auglaize. The plot would pass to William Lewis Jr
in turn to William Hutchinson, Susan Spellman and John Hugh, Rachael Dean, John
Frost and George Kelly. The home came into the Baker family in 1878 through
Andrew Baker has remained so down through the years as a gathering
place and refuge to reconnect family with the past. Each family holiday we
are able to remember our loved ones.
It’s amazing to snuggle down in the bed
of your g-great grandparents that they slept in and set the holiday table with special
pieces from previous family times. It’s beautiful to peek from windows of
rippled bubbled glass at a lovely Christmas morning knowing how many before
you have done the same. Names of earlier occupants and visitors are etched
onto some of the old glass: including William Preston. Much o f the house is original to the period even
down to some beautiful stenciling discovered under eight layers of
wallpaper. One can only wonder if the early owners had lived in such a house
from another area or remembered from childhood. At a very early time the
house had been white washed white green shutters and black trim. The parlor
fireplace was mustard yellow with black designs.
Quite remarkable is a
fantastic band of brickwork at the top of the house fashioned by layers of
angled and beveled brick.
friezes are rare and having them on the backside make them more rare.
The brick for the house was fabricated across the river or nearby, as there
great amounts of clay deposits that exist still today. Handprints remain on some of the bricks. Huge logs of White Oak were felled to be
beams; bark was left as they were placed in pockets to rest. Four mantels
grace the rooms and are focal points of design.
Wide woodwork is featured
throughout and windows are wide bevels set into the walls and resemble
recessed shutter panels. The walls of brick are 18 inches thick. Most
trim downstairs as well as the open stairway are fashioned of black walnut;
the upper is of poplar and mixed wood meant to be painted. The floors are 3
inches of solid wood. The house was meant to be a real show stopper for the
time and area. Stone was cut from down river for above the windows and entrance. In the
parlor stands a square grand piano that had been shipped by canal boat from
New York to a location in Toledo, Ohio in 1850 and a beautiful sofa that Abraham Lincoln had sat on.
Family relics abound throughout every room. Hanging above the dining room
mantle is an elegant hunting gun of Damascus steel belonging to Andrew Baker, the gun
was fashioned in England and has excellent walnut carvings.
Family keepsakes from are Grandfather Randolph’s ancestors, the Adams family. Family favorite foods are often cooked in very old iron pans
that date from our great great grand parents, many recipes are from early times
and reflect influences from various backgrounds and countries. Christmas Eve a
buffet abounds with a large selection of hearty fare along with the ever popular
eggnog and tempting cakes, cookies special breads. Most herbs are grown in the
sunken garden, or along the vegetable plots outside the kitchen. Fresh
vegetables are raised close by the back door and are used daily to prepare
salads and stir fry meals. Wonderful sauces and preserves are put by weekly to
enjoy during the winter months. A
“new” sunroom in the back is a wonderful way to spend a winter evening watching
snow fall while a fire glows nearby. Small white lights and candles glow
throughout the sunken garden to enjoy at night while grandchildren sled down the hills to the bottom terrace. Many times
the house is illuminated with only candle light that evokes a gentler and
quieter time. Keep with us for future food delights and new ideas from
Old Brick House.