Trenton’s Doris Page remembers: Two presidents, a city’s founder and a log home whose walls could talk a fascinating history
Do you know anyone who has lived upon property that was offered for sale by the U.S. government and whose original deed was signed by President Thomas Jefferson and then-Secretary of State (and future President) James Madison?
If you live in Trenton, Ohio, congratulations! You may well know such a person -- Historian Doris Page.
Not surprisingly, Mrs. Page, now in her late 90s, the author and/or co-author of five local history books, spent much of her adult life on such hallowed, historic ground. And not in just any house, mind you, but in what’s been known for years as the “log house” or “log cabin” at 310 Hamilton Avenue.
“My grandfather purchased it in the 1930s to work on as a renovation project,” Mrs. Page recalls. “I moved there in 1948 and lived there 72 years.”
For Mrs. Page, researching and writing local history is as natural as breathing. That’s how she discovered the names of everyone who’s lived in the structure.
Interestingly, she learned that the first owner of the farmland on which the log house stands was Michael Pearce, the founder of Trenton. Hailing from New Jersey, Pearce was a Revolutionary War soldier who had been a merchant in that state for 18 years, Mrs. Page reported in a history she compiled in 2010.
Pearce “placed his claim for 1,500 acres at $2 an acre (Section 5, 6, and part of 4) when the United States government offered the land for sale in 1801,” she wrote.
At the time Ohio had not yet become a state and Butler had not yet been established as a county. Those designations were made in 1803. The momentous property deed was dated and recorded on September 27, 1807, and signed by President Thomas Jefferson and then-Secretary of State and future President James Madison. The deed was issued in Hamilton County even though Butler had already become a county, Mrs. Page continued. A photocopy of that historic document accompanies this article.
Mrs. Page noted that “Pearce was in his 40s in 1798 when he and his family and others of the Baptist faith set out to move westward. Their journey would bring a totally different existence than their comfortable life in New Jersey.”
She described Pearce as a “religious man” who, with his son-in-law, Elder Stephen Gard, founded the Elk Creek Baptist Church and its cemetery in 1802, both on land Pearce donated.” He served as a deacon.
Pearce died in 1838 at age 88. His wife, Phebe, had passed away six years earlier at age 76, Mrs. Page wrote.
According to Mrs. Page, in 1809 “Samuel M. Potter purchased from Michael Pearce 80 acres” in a particular section of the land for $260. That deed was recorded in Butler County. “It is thought that Potter built the log house during his ownership with logs cut from the land,” she wrote.
Through the decades both owners and renters have inhabited the house and various amounts of acreage. Mrs. Page and her late husband, Wesley L. Page, rented the house for “15 years beginning in 1948” before becoming owners in 1963. In the same year the couple “purchased a fractional portion” of a lot that had been part of Potter’s 80 acres. Mr. Page died in 1995.
In 2010 Mrs. Page wrote of the place she called home: “I am 90 years old now. I have been living in this house for 62 years. Wesley planted many trees in the field and lived to see them all grow tall.
“Each day, weather permitting, I try to walk through the field...as I approach the front of the house, and pausing outside the picket fence, I never fail to say, ‘Oh, I love this house!’ … Wesley and I have felt we were ‘care-takers’ in our time here, and hope that the new owners will feel the same.”
Mrs. Page’s love of history led her to the Trenton Historical Society where she became curator...and into the hearts of all who cherish local history.
MidPointe Library proudly announces the addition of a collection of Mrs. Page’s works on its Digital Archives. They are available at:
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Digital Archives.
Or directly at: http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org/digital/
Accompanying photos of Doris Page’s former home at 310 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton, were supplied courtesy of Gary Page, Mrs. Page’s son. The photos show the aftermath of a 1962 ice storm. It appears as though some of the original logs are visible following damage to the exterior.
MidPointe Library thanks Mrs. Page’s son, Gary Page, and Middletown Historian Roger Miller for their assistance which made this article possible.