A house does not have to be extremely old, large or prominent to have an interesting history.
Believe it or not, the house highlighted today caught this writer’s attention during research for three other stories. The time seemed right to finally research the stories of 234 W. Fair Ave. Readers have probably driven by this house many times and not given it a glance, let alone a second thought.
“House on south side of Lundy’s Lane, 4th east of Columbus” was how it was described in the 1890-91 Lancaster City Directory. This description would not be helpful unless the reader knows “Fair Avenue” was first named Lundy’s Lane. It is believed it was given this name by veterans of the War of 1812 so the infamous Battle of Lundy’s Lane would be remembered. It had been officially changed to Fair Avenue by the time the 1902 City Directory was published (if not before). The “fourth house east of Columbus St.” became 234 W. Fair Ave. “The citizens of West Lancaster have completed numbering their houses…and are now ready for free mail delivery which will no doubt soon be given them” reported the Daily Eagle 8 March 1902.
Meanwhile, William C. Shugert (1877-1952) was born in Lancaster, and by 1910 the U.S. Census shows he had married Grace Nebling (1885-1978). William was working as an “edge setter” in a shoe factory, and they had a daughter Florence and a son Harold.
“New Homes Being Built by Lancaster’s Progressive Shoe Workers,” was the title of an article in the Daily Eagle 9 Nov 1922. The article listed employees who were remodeling or buying homes. The list included “Will Shugert, No. 5 Plant, Finishing Dept., 8 room house, 234 W. Fair Ave.” By this time Russell, Mary and Floyd had been born and the family needed more room. Their sixth and last child Bettie would be born in 1925.
A member of the Shugert family would live at 234 W. Fair for about 50 years. And unlike today, “the family next door,” Jacob (1833-1919) and Leah Dittmar (1842-1923), also lived at 228 W. Fair from at least 1902 until their deaths. Following them their daughter Ellen (and husband Leo J. Noles and children) lived there until Ellen died at 87 in 1960—for a total of at least 58 years. Leo was a tailor and then worked as a gateman at Anchor Hocking.
Next door Will Shugert was elected Commander of the Lancaster Camp No. 371, Order of the Maccabees in 1929. By the time of his death in 1952, Will had worked for the Godman Shoe Co. for 48 years, and then Anchor Hocking.
Their six children included daughter Florence (Brucker) (1904-2000), son Harold (1907-1982) and son Russell Shugert (1915-1966) who was injured in 1937 when a car ran over his leg, and it had to be amputated. From 1939 to about 1957, Russell ordered pine branches from southern Ohio and created cemetery decorations that he sold from the home during December.
Also, there was daughter Mary J. (Tobin) (1918-2002), son Floyd (1921-2002), and daughter Bettie M. (Whitley) (1925-2019). Bettie married Lowell Whitley in 1942, and they moved into the family home at 234 W. Fair. Lowell was a postal carrier for more than 30 years, but in the mid-1950s he opened the Acme Television Shop in a building at the rear of the home where he repaired/sold televisions.
The 234 W. Fair Ave. home said goodbye to its last Shugert family member in the early 1970s after 50 years. Mrs. William C. (Grace) Shugert went into a nursing home and died in 1983 at 93 years of age. This “visit” to the house at 234 W. Fair Ave. and its family will hopefully encourage readers to explore their home’s history and preserve it for others. My thanks go to William & Grace’s grandson, Wesley Whitley, who was the third generation to live in the home, and was willing to share its history.
Readers may contact Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Remember When: Every house has stories to tell