There are some Heinmiller family objects in the Ohio Historical Society’s collection. Yesterday, Cliff, a history curator at the Society, showed a few of them to us.
The helmet that Henry Heinmiller wore as chief engineer of the Columbus Fire Department is on display in the “Centuries of Change” exhibit at the Ohio History Center. Dating from about 1875, the wide-brimmed white leather helmet (H 21977) has a large shield on the front that reads “Chief Columbus Fire Dept” that’s held in place by an eagle.
Cliff also showed us Uncle Henry’s fireman’s speaking trumpet (H 70413). This black, gray and green, cone-shaped metal trumpet has a concave mouthpiece with a beaded rim and dates from approximately 1870. A braided cord is attached to the horn. An engraved shield reads “Harry Heinmiller/Chief Engr./F.D./From/Saml. Y. Greer.” Both objects were donated to the Society by Harry R. Allensworth, Henry’s brother-in-law, in 1933.
Uncle Henry was in the grocery business from 1880 to 1906. His store was first at South High and Beck Streets, and later at South High and Willow Streets in Columbus. The Ohio Historical Society collections include a bill holder that was used at the Heinmiller Grocery Store. Decorated with scrolls and acanthus leaves, the cast iron object (H 84465) dates from the 1880s.
Finally, we looked at a ring (H 53193) that belonged to Henry’s niece, Henrietta. She was the daughter of Henry’s older brother, Louis Heinmiller (1838-1899), who served as Franklin County Sheriff from 1881 to 1884 and was a Columbus City Councilman from 1887 to 1888. Henrietta was born September 9, 1869 and died February 25, 1957. Her husband, William N. Weinman, owned the Weinman Pump Manufacturing Company. He gave her a 14-karat gold ring with a diamond setting that dates from 1890 to 1920. Engraved on the inside of the ring is “WNW to VMH.”
Henrietta and her husband had one daughter, Ruth Weinman Herndon. Born September 6, 1907, Ruth grew up at 380 King Avenue in Columbus until 1914, when her parents hired Columbus architect Frank Packard to build a home at 1445 Roxbury Road in Marble Cliff. After graduating from Columbus School for Girls in 1925, Ruth studied sociology at Ohio State University, graduating in 1929.
Before she died on January 28, 2002, Ruth donated her mother’s ring and many other family items to the Ohio Historical Society. By chance, I processed the manuscript and audiovisual portion of the collection when I worked at OHS in 2005.
Some of the highlights of MSS 1344 AV include cyanotypes of Ruth and Henrietta that were taken in 1909; an album of photographs of Ruth, her friends, and the site of the Herndons’ future Marble Cliff home, dating from 1912 to 1914, and a scrapbook documenting Ruth’s participation in the River Ridge Riding & Polo Club of Columbus, dating from 1928 to 1934.
As my mother and I were admiring Uncle Henry’s helmet, Jane Mason, the Society’s director of marketing and communication, engaged us in conversation. “What does it mean to you to see something that belonged to your ancestor?,” she asked us. As my mother told her Uncle Henry’s story, I thought about how remarkable it was that these children of emigrants from Flörsheim am Main, a town in Hesse, Germany, became Columbus city leaders. The first and second generations of Heinmillers who started their lives in Columbus on a farm at the corner of Town and Third Streets in the 1830s made the most of every opportunity, centering their lives on family, religion, education and hard work, and living in ways that must have made their parents proud. That’s a valuable lesson that their descendants should never forget.