By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
On our trip to Ohio this spring, Joann and I stayed one night in Chillicothe, Ohio. I had several historic locations marked for us to investigate, and I thought these would make good first light photo opportunities. Little did I know that we would still be in town nearing lunch time!
One of these locations was the historic Mary Worthington Macomb house which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The house sits in an industrial area of town on the banks of Paint Creek.
Mary Tiffin Worthington was born in Virginia (present day West Virginia) in 1797. She was the first child of Thomas and Eleanor Worthington. The following year, her family moved to the Northwest Territory. (The Northwest Territory existed from July 13, 1787 until May 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio. It included all of the land west of Pennsylvania and northwest of the Ohio River.)
Being from an affluent family, Mary and her younger sister Sarah attended boarding schools in Kentucky and Maryland, and Mary attended one of Dolly Madison’s tea parties at the White House.
When Mary chose David Macomb for her husband, her father did not approve. Even though he was from a prominent family, he was considered lower in society.
The land where the house was built was originally owned by Nathaniel Massie. A later owner of the land began building the two story sandstone house in 1813, and the house was completed two years later. The year the house was finished, Mary’s father, the future Governor Thomas Worthington, bought the property.
By 1819, David’s poor management of their finances forced them into debt and their belongings were sold at public auction. For a time, Mary and her family lived in this house which was owned by her father.
In 1825, David moved the family to Tallahassee, Florida. In 1835, hearing of a promising life in Texas, David moved the family again. Mary became ill on the trip to Texas and never recovered. She died in Texas in 1836 at the age of 39. David also suffered from failing health and was despondent over Mary’s death. He committed suicide a year later. They were buried in the wild woods of Texas and their graves have never been found.
The property in Chillicothe, on which the house stood, was converted for commercial use. By 1845, there were multiple new buildings around the structure including a frame building and a slaughterhouse. Those buildings are now gone, but the house remains, standing silent as a testament to early Chillicothe settlement.
If only these were the sort of things we learned in history class. Memorizing dates didn’t mean as much to me as being in front of these old historic locations and then learning something about the lives of the people who lived there.