So different; so familiar Madeira of 1913 much smaller, but still had hometown feel

By Regina Villiers.   Originally published January 24, 1996 in The Suburban Life, added January 11, 2016

The Bain sisters, granddaughters of Madeira's first mayor, Samuel Kitchell

The Bain sisters, granddaughters of Madeira’s first mayor, Samuel Kitchell Druce.  Esther(left), Drucilla(center) and Naomi.  Naomi wrote a description of Madeira as she remembered it in 1913, detailing the houses and the families who lived in them.

When Naomi Bain Henn sat down several years ago and wrote an account of her early memories of Madeira, she did something that more of us should do about the events of our lives.  Although our lives may seem too mundane at the moment to preserve in writing, our written descriptions of the things we know could be quite interesting for future history students.

Mrs. Henn centered her recollections around 1913, the year her grandfather, Samuel Kitchell Druce, became Madeira’s first mayor.  She would have been 8 years old at the time.

Madeira’s population at that time was around 500.  Today it is 9,123 as of the 1990 census.

If you had lived in Madeira then, chances are you would have known most, or all, of those 500 people, as Mrs. Henn did, and you could recall their names.

Mrs. Henn did, and she wrote them all down.

She made a numbered list of the houses and described their locations and the people who lived there.  She titled her paper, “Madeira Before 1913, As I Remember.”

There are 84 houses, both business and residential, on Mrs. Henn’s list.  The houses are numbers and then located by number on a street map, showing the streets at that time.  She had help preparing the map from her sister, Drucilla Bain.

The list is too long to publish entirely, but a summary and highlights of it would be interesting to most people.  And people who live in those houses today should find special interest in learning the history of their homes.

At that time, Madeira was only a hamlet, a cluster of homes and a few businesses centered along two or three streets surrounding the railroad station.  The town was still surrounded by farmland and wooded areas.  Most of today’s streets did not exist.  My own street, Juler Avenue, for example, was still part of a farm.

Many of Madeira’s streets are named in honor of Druce family members and their ancestors and descendants.

Naomi Avenue was named for Mrs. Henn herself.  Ester Lane bears the name of her sister, Esther Bain.  Dones Avenue was named for the family of Sarah Dones Druce, and Marvin Avenue for the family of the mother of Mrs. Druce.

Mrs. Henn began her list with the few houses surrounding her home and the home of her grandfather Druce on Euclid, the area around the library and the medical building today.  Miami Avenue ended then, just beyond the library.  The area to the north on Miami was farmland.

She wrote about the Ace Hosbrook house, now known as Miss Nelle’s house, by the bird sanctuary.  She then continued up Euclid to the Fowler house, now Ed Hillman’s, at Euclid and Summit.

She noted that there were only two houses on what is today Hosbrook Road.  They were houses owned by the Hosbrooks on the Hosbrook farm.

Her description of Miami Avenue would be of interest to people today.  She described a two-story farm on Miami, now occupied by a bank.

“My grandfather Druce built, owned and rented this house,” she wrote.  “During my childhood, my aunt, Margaret Bain Aiken and uncle, Clarence Aiken, lived in this house with their children, Russell, Catherine and Ann.  Ann would use the path between our homes to find out if we were having veal stew for supper.  If we were, she’d eat with us.”

Along Miami she described some of the businesses of that time.  Bean’s Grocery at the corner of Laurel and Miami later became George Bauer’s Store.  Across the street from it sat the Presbyterian Church.  She said she’d walk a plank sidewalk from the church to her home on Euclid.

The Hosbrook and Muchmore houses, which now belong to the city, were there at that time.  In back of them, now the post office location, sat the Methodist Church facing Railroad Avenue.

Going on up Miami, she described a location everyone today will recognize.

“On the east side of Miami, across the tracks,” she wrote, “was Walter Snyder’s grandmother’s house.  I think her name was Armstrong.  In more modern times, this became George Meyer Hardware.”

In still more modern times, that location today is Kroger parking lot.

Most of the buildings at that time were located along the main stretch of Miami and along Camargo Road.  There were scattered houses along Euclid, Laurel, Railroad and a few on Shawnee Run.

She mentioned many family names of that era and names of her childhood friends.  Many of the names and house descriptions were connected to her own family.  She talked about her Aunt Coe and Uncle Jimmy Dones. She talked about the farm of her uncle, George Bain.

The last house on her list was built about 1845 by her great grandfather, James Dones, when he bought acreage on Miami Avenue and moved from Cincinnati to the country.

“The house is still standing,” she wrote, “but has been moved and columns added.  It now faces north on Naomi Avenue.”

In 1988, Naomi and Drucilla Bain were honored as a bicentennial family at a gala downtown.  They received a plaque in honor of their ancestors, William and Mary Kitchell Druce.

Mr. Henn has a daughter, Zoe, described by Drucilla as “the family historian.”

Zoe will continue to pass on the stories and history of her illustrious family who contributed so much to the beginnings of Madeira.