Mosgrove family part of Urbana’s rich history

By Sherry Virts - CCPA Historian

The 1842 Mosgrove home at 323 Miami Street, showing the rear entrance from South Russell Street.

Submitted photo

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part article about the Mosgrove family of Urbana. The article is written by Sherry Virts, historian of the Champaign County Preservation Alliance, which is gearing up for its annual Home and Garden Tour, scheduled for June 25-26.

In researching history for the Champaign County Preservation Alliance’ 24th Historic Homes and Gardens Tour being held Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, an interesting family history was explored and is being shared with the newspaper readers in segments.

According to Champaign County marriage records, “Mosgrove, John Spouse : Dunlap, Jane Marriage date : Feb 2, 1832.” John Adam Mosgrove was the eldest son of Dr, Adam Mosgrove (one of the earliest doctors in the county) and at the age of 14 may have already left his father’s house and married a Jane Dunlap in 1832. He was born in Urbana in 1818, the first year his father and mother settled here. John’s mother died in 1833, a year after records show he was married and the year after Mary’s death in 1834, his father, needing someone to take care of the younger two sons and household, married for the second time. This time his father united with a prominent young lady from Clark County, Frances Foley, who was only 19 years old. Even though Adam’s wife was much younger than he, she only lived four years longer than Adam. He died in 1875 and her death came in 1879 She had no children other than her step sons.

John and his father Adam disagreed in politics and perhaps other matters. Nonetheless, his father, Adam, was an industrious well respected citizen of his community and excellent example for his sons and so did John Adam Mosgrove become as his dad but in a different business. John set out at a young age to make his own fortune in the world with his keen mind for business, marked enterprise and unflagging industry. He became a commission merchant particularly interested in the grain market on a big scale and also did much trading in the wool business. John became known as a prosperous and enterprising young businessman of his own making and unlike his father he supported the Republican Party. His first wife must have died in those first few years of marriage while they were traveling in Illinois. Michigan, and other western states because no death record has been found locally for her and no record of children with this marriage was found. They traveled back and forth, where he would buy cattle in the west and drive them east to the Pittsburgh markets. Like his father he was highly regarded in his particular profession and it was said that his integrity made his word as good as any signed document.

By the 1840s, John A. Mosgrove was back in Champaign County, a successful businessman without a wife or children and ready to settle down and start a family. In 1845 he asked Elizabeth Miller to be his second wife. His wife was the only surviving child of Samuel and Elizabeth Miller, who had just built a mansion at 323 Miami Street, west of John’s father, Dr. Mosgrove’s home at 127 Miami. Unexpectedly, Elizabeth’s father Samuel, a very successful early pioneer businessman, died leaving his wife Elizabeth and daughter Elizabeth by themselves except for the servants in their new home. It seemed natural for John and his new bride Elizabeth to move in with his mother-in-law in the large home.

John and wife Elizabeth had six children. Three of them died in early childhood. Of those two daughters and a son to survive their youth, Frances, Samuel and Emma, only Samuel had a child grow to adulthood. The oldest daughter married and lived in Indiana with no children found. Samuel A. Mosgrove became a doctor, trained by his bachelor uncle Dr. James Mosgrove. Samuel married Anna Fisher and they had one son, John Adam Mosgrove II, but Samuel’s father’s namesake never married. John senior’s youngest, Emma, never married and lived in the house at 323 Miami in which she grew up, taking care of her mother Elizabeth until her death in 1908. Emma lived on here until her own death in 1923. She willed the home to her only living nephew, John Adam Mosgrove II, who never married and died in 1940 leaving the house to his mother, who was still living, Anna Fisher Mosgrove, John Mosgrove’s widowed daughter in law. Having no direct descendants of Samuel Miller or John A. Mosgrove I, or his son Dr. Samuel A. Mosgrove, or John Adam Mosgrove II, the house was willed to the Mercy Memorial Hospital at Anna’s death in 1952. That was the end of John Adam Mosgrove’s line and the Mosgroves living at 323 Miami Street.

State Route 54 farm

Now a sideline that makes a second connect with this family of Mosgrove’s to another stop on this year’s tour. It seems that Samuel Miller purchased a small farm in Urbana Township just right outside of Urbana to the southeast on what we now call state Route 54, but once named Urbana-Lisbon Road. This farm then went to the John A. Mosgrove estate upon Mrs. Miller’s death. The farm became Albert Mapp’s farm in 1941 after the settlement of the Mosgrove estate. Lastly the farm became part of Merrell and Ruth Runyan’s family’s Oakview Farms through the fact that Ruth Mapp Runyan was the only child of Albert and Dorthy Mapp. Many of our local families seem to be interconnected in some strange ways in rural Champaign County, Ohio.

There is so much more to write about the Mosgrove family, like John Mosgrove’s son Dr. Samuel Mosgrove, and John’s siblings, but it must be saved for another time since the deadline is drawing near for the Daily Citizen’s supplement about all the homes and gardens on the 2016 CCPA tour. But then there was John’s brother, Colonel William Mosgrove, who was an attorney and served in the Civil War, and William’s children, one of whom became another Mosgrove doctor, and John’s younger brother, yet another doctor, Dr. James Mosgrove. This family’s story needs to be told as they had a marked influence in the building of Champaign County and many of their homes are still being lived in today.

Plan on attending his year’s CCPA’s Historic Homes and Gardens Tour on Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and learn about how history is being kept alive. Tickets are on sale at supporting local businesses. A ticket is good for both days. The tour is never canceled because of rain. If you would like to volunteer to help with the tour or to get ticket information, leave a message at 1-800-791-6010 or visit Hope to see you there.

The 1842 Mosgrove home at 323 Miami Street, showing the rear entrance from South Russell Street. 1842 Mosgrove home at 323 Miami Street, showing the rear entrance from South Russell Street. Submitted photo

By Sherry Virts

CCPA Historian

Submitted by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance.

Submitted by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance.

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