Your Hosts and History

Harpster-Davenport House
“Where it All Began”
 
The story of the Harpster-Davenport Guest House begins in earnest when the English relinquished all rights to the continental lands at the end of the Revolutionary War.
 
Later the territory north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River was to be sold via land patents issued by the United States federal government known as the Confederate Congress.  This was accomplished via the passage of “The Land Ordinance of 1785”. The U.S. government surveyed this new massive area and each of the smaller pieces, known as townships, were further sub-divided into 320-acre parcels called sections. These sections were sold to the public at the sum of $1.00 per acre.  The site that this home sits on was originally deeded to Samuel T. Sparrow when the last Native Americans were forced to move west out of Ohio from their last stand at Greensprings which is just west of here. Once sold the new owner was given a paper document proving payment and ownership, which was called a land patent.  This land patent was typically hand-signed by the president of the United States. On April 24th, 1820 Mr. Samuel T. Sparrow, who had come here from Connecticut in 1818, bought a one-quarter section or eighty acres of which this home now sits upon. Mr. Sparrow along with Amos Woodward, William Woodward, Gurdon Woodward and others organized the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Norwalk, Ohio. Over time further land sales continued to various owners until these grounds finally came into the possession of Mr. David E. Harpster.  He, like so many immigrants to the Ohio Lands, came here from Pennsylvania.  He was accompanied by his mother and two brothers and sister.
 
This home was built in 1842 by David E. Harpster.  The style is known as Greek Revival.  It is also known as a “three-brick thick” home as there is no framing involved within the walls themselves. All of its construction materials were taken from a very small local area. David’s brothers also built homes, which still exist today and are within eye site across the fields to the northwest and northeast. Today, most all the original family members are buried in a cemetery three miles south of here and adjacent to the Seneca Caverns.
 
One of the interesting stories about the Harpsters is that the three brothers and one other local gentleman began a small in-home church service, which rotated in turn from one home to the next. Over scores of years it eventually became the Evangelical Church still located here in Bellevue.
 
Another piece of historical information is that this home was one of only a few to be depicted in the 1893 Sandusky County Atlas.  These renderings were of a type called steel engravings.  In the engraving you can see Mr. and Mrs. Harpster outdoors. She is waving good-bye from the front porch to a female friend of hers as the friend travels down the road aboard a horse-drawn carriage.  Mr. Harpster is seen walking back north to the big barn to attend to more chores.  It would appear they had all just finished eating lunch and catching up on the latest local news together with their lady friend.  We have traced much of the home’s history; have visited the grave sites of most of the Harpster family in a cemetery next to the Seneca Cavern’s directly south of here approximately 5 miles and have researched their family to the best of our ability.
 
In 2006 as a newly married couple, we began our quest to find a home for the two of us.  On a whim, we decided to come to Bellevue to see what later would become our home.  This home.  After walking through and around it, we headed to our then present home in Norwalk. That evening and the following day we discussed what we had seen, heard and felt at the old brick farm house in Bellevue. This home. The more we talked the more we understood that the ole’ place felt like home and we decided to…make an offer.  To our elation it was accepted.  Then the real work began!  We have modified it while attempting to keep the flavor of a period home with “conveniences”. It is because of the efforts the Harpster family exerted to build this home, that we elected to pay them homage by naming it in their tribute as the Harpster-Davenport Guest House.  The original homestead’s barns now belong to a neighboring farmer and can be seen from our property.  
 
Someone before us had turned the second floor level into an apartment.  Not wanting to rent it out on a long-term/monthly basis, we decided to create a unique living quarters for travelers much like you see in Europe. Hence, today, you are seeing, feeling and hearing what we did upon our first walk-through.  That is namely the peace and serenity of a 173 year old farmhouse in a rural country setting in northern Ohio.
 
We hope you enjoy it!
~Paul and Janell Davenport~
 
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