Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Kent family homes --- near Lucas and in England

William (1826-1906) and Hannah Wherrett Kent (1842-1922) brought their two sons, Charles and John, from Chicago to a 320-acre farm three and a half miles west of Lucas during March of 1869, introducing a family name that's still a familiar one in Lucas County.

Both were natives of England who arrived in the United States as children and married in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, during 1860, then lived in Cleveland and Chicago before William turned his hand from carpentry to farming and the couple settled down.

More than 150 years later, a compact photo album that most likely was theirs, in better condition than most that arrive at the Lucas County Historical Society but still fragile, has an archival box to itself in the museum library. It was donated during 1970 by their granddaughter, Ethel Kent Wood (1889-1971), daughter of John.

So I scanned three of the images in it that I found most interesting on Tuesday to share here this morning. The first (top) shows the family home in Jackson Township. In front are (from left) John Kent, Charles Kent, Hannah Kent, Florence Erb (an adopted daughter) and, behind the team, William Kent.

The second photograph was taken in front of another side of the house with the extended family in front. Only four are identified, however: Charles Kent seated at left, William and Hannah Kent seated in the middle, and John Kent, standing at right. I'm guessing the little girl standing between Hannah and John was John's daughter, Ethel, donor of the album.

Here's a description of the Kent farm as published as part of a larger biographical sketch of William and Hanna in the 1896 "A Memorial and Biographical Record of Iowa" ---

"The land he developed into one of the finest farms in this part of the country and on it built one of the most beautiful rural homes in the county. He has since given a portion of his farm to his sons, retaining for himself 170 acres. His modern residence, a story-and-a-half cottage, is located on a natural building site some rods back from the main highway and is surrounded with an attractive lawn, ornamental shrubbery and trees, the entire surroundings giving evidence of taste and culture as well as prosperity; and in the interior of this dwelling the same air of refinement prevails. The walls are adorned with pictures, the shelves are lined with books, and here is also found a choice collection of bric-a-brac. It is, indeed, a delightful home, and both Mr. Kent and his amiable wife are the personification of hospitality. On this farm is also found a large barn and other substantial buildings and good fences, an orchard of two acres, and what may be called complete water-works. Springs of pure water gush from hillsides and a modern windmill supplies the power by which this water is forced through pipes up to a large tank, from which reservoir the water is carried to both the house and barn."

The third photograph, of Hannah's birthplace in the village of Stonechurch near Stroud in Gloucestershire, southwest England, was commissioned by fellow Lucas residents, Mr. and Mrs. Evan B. Morgan, when they were touring that area, then brought home and given to the Kents, finding its home eventually in the photo album now housed in the museum library. The people are unidentified but most likely include the Morgans.

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