The Reuben Hartzell Family

By Stephen J. Hartzell

The Reuben Hartzell family arrived in Seneca County in 1847 from Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Reuben's great grandparents, Henry & Eva Hertzel, had settled in that area in 1750, arriving at the Port of Philadelphia on the ship "Sandwich" on November 30, 1750.

Reuben, his wife Sarah (Shiffert), sons James, Harrison and Hiram located in section 31 of Clinton Township on land owned by Solomon Litzenberger, who with his wife Judith (Cook) had also come from Lehigh County at about the same time. It appears as though a number of Lehigh families made the trip together, carrying their belongings on ox drawn carts. These 1847 families included Hartzell, Litzenberger, Strauss, Eisenhart, Kistler, Meyer & Shubert. In 1850 Reuben Hartzell, along with several other Lehigh families were among the founding members of the Second Reformed (German) Church of Tiffin, whose first church building was located on the northeast corner of Jefferson & Tiffin Streets on land now owned by Calvert High School.

Reuben Hartzell was a jack of all trades of sorts. Among his occupations were mechanic, sawmill operator, mason & plasterer. In pursuit of these trades, he was forced to spend extended periods of time away from home. He was able to provide his family with a modest, but adequate standard of living.

Sarah Hartzell died on August 17, 1851 and Hiram died April 7, 1852. Both were buried at Rock Run Cemetery, located near the old Rock Creek Methodist Episcopal Church, a short ride down Old Attica Road from the homestead.

Reuben then married Leanda Strauss, daughter of Isaac & Judah (Steinberger) Strauss, also from Lehigh County, on December 13, 1854. After giving birth to a son, Israel Franklin Hartzell on December 1, 1854, she too died July 18, 1855. After Leanda's death Israel was placed under the guardianship of another Lehigh family, William & Clarissa Schmoyer. Schmoyer operated a large farm on the South Plank Road (SR 53), and was one of the largest dealers of eggs & produce in this part of Ohio.

Reuben then married Ruth Taylor on October 31, 1861. Ruth was the former wife of Joseph Spalding, by whom she had 5 children, and they were divorced. Reuben & Ruth had a daughter, Mary Loretta Hartzell, in September of 1862.

With the outbreak of the Civil War Harrison enlisted in the service of his country in March of 1862, and was assigned to the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Harrison was wounded in the Battle of Antietem, receiving a gunshot wound to the left cheek. He was first sent to the field hospital near Keedysville, then to Philadelphia where he spent the ensuing year in several different hospitals before being returned to duty. He was discharged near Burkesville, Virginia April 24, 1865, having served with the famed Army of the Potomac for nearly 3 years.

James was enlisted into service by the newly formed 123rd OVI in September of 1862. After serving nearly 2 years, James was killed at the Battle of Opequan (3rd Winchester) on August 19, 1864. With the family apparently unable to afford the cost of having his body returned home, James' remains were interred at Winchester National Cemetery.

Shortly after James' death, and with Harrison still in the hospital clinging to life, Reuben regained custody of his youngest son from the Schmoyers. Reuben had been the owner of a sawmill on Wolf Creek for a couple of years when he sold it & moved back into Tiffin, to a home on North Washington about a block north of the railroad. Selling that property in 1868, the family relocated to Noblesville, Hamilton County, Indiana. There Reuben and Harrison were working side by side as mason and plasterer respectively, and made a decent living.

In Noblesville on December 26, 1872 Harrison married Ellen Clark. Their first home together was rented from L. Lebo. They had a son, Harrison Jr. in 1873. By 1875 they were again on the move, and a son, Thomas was born at Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio. By this time Reuben had returned to Tiffin and bought a home on Jackson St. Harrison, Ellen & family returned to Tiffin in 1876.

Now the nation was in the midst of a great depresion, and much of Tiffin's population was feeling the pinch. Harrison and his destitute family were admitted into the Seneca County Infirmary in December of 1877. Ellen died of complications in childbirth at the Infirmary in February 1878. Harrison Jr. had died of diphtheria in January at the same location. Harrison turned to his father, and entered his household. Reuben's marriage was in turmoil, he and Ruth having separated. Shortly, Reuben became ill with Typhoid fever, and a few weeks later he died in his home. Harrison's newborn son, John Michael Hartzell, was then adopted by Michael & Adilaide Breidenbach later that same month.

Thomas was taken in by a man named Martin before being returned to the Infirmary. There at the age of 7 he had his left leg cut off by a mowing machine. Shortly thereafter, in 1884, he was taken in and raised at the St. Francis Orphanage. He left the Orphanage in 1894, and married Rosalie Reiniche in 1907. In 1911 Harrison gave Tom a piece of his property on West Perry St. upon which to build a home. After his father's death in 1917 Tom inheritted the entire property, and there he remained with his family for the remainder of his life. Tom was a shoemaker and barber by trade and Rose a housekeeper at the Ursuline Convent.

Their children were Victor, Harry, Eugene, Paul, Mary, Robert, Ellen and Regina. Thomas died at Mercy Hospital in 1955 and Rosalie died at St. Francis Home in 1984.

Tom's youngest son Robert Joseph Hartzell married Marie Anna Kirian on June 12, 1948. Robert built his home directly across the street from that in which he had grown up. Their children are Joseph, Agnes, Clara, Dorothy, Peter, Helen, Stephen and Barbara, who died in 1989. Their great grandchildren represent the seventh generation of this Hartzell family to live in Tiffin.

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©1998 by Stephen J. Hartzell
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