A Place with a History (I)

The land where Headwaters Homestead sits became ours just over a year-and-a-half ago. A small cluster of acres nestled at the headwaters of the Tuscarawas River, it provided us both with a sense of space and place of our own. Space in the freedom to move and shape the land as we saw fit. Place in the sense of that which gives one pause to fell a connection to a given location. In this case, our home.

Getting our little place in the world took some effort. Closing on the property took months longer than originally expected. Delays and setbacks moved what would have been a mid-summer closing back until the late fall. Once we had keys in hand, however, we began looking into the back history of the property looking for stories to tell. What we found was in line with what one would expect from the area – a community steeped in farming tradition and rich, moist, black soils – but the little details from that history shape and influence our thoughts and actions with the property every day.

According to the county recorder our homestead is in the NE Quarter of Section No. 22, Township No. 12, Range No. 8, in Stark County, Ohio. While that appeals and makes sense to the geography nerd in me, it doesn’t really tell you much about our homestead aside from where to find our property in the plat books of the county. So let’s stick with the rural farmlands of Lake Township just south of the Village of Hartville. The headwaters of the Tuscarawas River are truly the best landmark for finding our property, as this river rises from springs at the eastern edge of our property.

The records are useful though in that they indicate one of the early owners of our property, and much of the surrounding lands, was a George Machamer. Deeds and maps going as far back as 1855 – the furthest back available for our online research – show the entire surrounding area as the Machamer farm. We don’t know much about George, except that he held the deed for our property up until the mid-1870s. There’s a cemetery located just north of our property, on the eastern edge of a subdivision now, in which he and family members are interred. The Machamer cemetery is a small site on private land.

Of course, we didn’t buy the land from George – although we’ve chosen to honor him by naming our kitchen’s Highland Cow portrait after him. George Machamer passed the land to his sons, John and Samuel Machamer with the current homestead being on what was once an allotted 80 acre section of Samuel’s land. While the date of the transaction is not clear, the change in ownership is seen through an examination of late 19th century Stark County maps.

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