Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the Hunt for 2269 Columbia Ave. - My Dad's Birthplace

Note:  Double-click on all pictures to enlarge.

Five Jones Siblings
A few days ago, my cousin, Tony Scardina, emailed this picture to me.  Several of us debated the possible location, but leave it to my brother, Tim, to recognize that it was Columbia Ave.  That led me to do some immediate research.

We had always known that my father lived on Columbia Ave. at the time of his birth in 1920.  The family rented space from my grandfather's Uncle Tom and Aunt Ella in a two-family home.  My Dad used to talk about how horses hauled milk trucks past their home in those "old" days.  They were forced to move to Eastern Ave. when the city decided to turn Columbia Ave. into Columbia Parkway -- a main east/west thoroughfare that followed the north bank of the Ohio River.

Instantly the picture took on more meaning, because to my knowledge, it is the only picture that any of us has that shows their initial home.  A little research was in order.  I looked at the 1920 Census where Tom, Ella, Fred, Norine, Edith, Charley and Bob were listed.  My Dad would be born later that year.  The address was 2269 Columbia Ave.  The next trip was to the Main Library to check the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for 1904-1930.  I was told by the librarian that as changes to the maps took place over the 26-year period, they would "cover up" the previous version.  Here is the segment from the map. (I highlighted the area that had been their property and labeled it with the 2269 address).  I then drove to Collins Ave. and the current Columbia Parkway to see if the property was accessible.

Next I contacted my partners-in-crime, my brother Tim and his wife, Dusty.  Tim and Dusty kindly accommodated me (aka the "Crip") as we climbed through the honeysuckle, bamboo and other brush that has taken over the hillside.  It was worth it.

We first came across what appeared to be an old wall or part of an old foundation.  Tim found an easier access route by going up to Columbia Parkway from the opposite side and crossing this four-lane, highly-traveled road.  He was able to capture pictures of what would have been the view of the Ohio River from their home and the hillside that was directly across the road.  The hillside has a substantial retaining wall designed to prevent mudslides, which are so common on this parkway.

Records from the Cincinnati Historical Society, state that these homes were purchased when the Parkway began construction in 1929.  Mom's notes say that the home they built down the hill at 2424 Eastern Ave. was purchased just as the Stock Market crashed in 1929.  They paid $5500  for the house and sold it in 1966 for $7500.  The homes on Columbia Ave. did not have indoor plumbing, so their new home must have felt like a palace.

View of the Ohio River from Columbia Ave. location

Dusty and Tim
From this spot we walked down to Gladstone to try to search out the foundation of the home where Pop had grown up.  Three houses in a row had been torn down and we were unsure which one of the three had been the location of the house.

Tim on Collins Ave.
No trip would be complete without taking a picture of the 90 degree turn on Collins Ave. underneath the railroad tracks.  Because the road is so narrow there, Dad would always beep his horn as a warning to oncoming cars.

It's hard to believe that starting with Alexander and Elizabeth Jones, four generations of our Jones family lived within a few blocks of the beautiful Ohio River.  It really is true that a river runs through us.

Note:  I followed up this post with a visit to the Cincinnati Historical Society to see if they had any newspaper articles or old photographs in their files.  You can see what I was able to get from them by clicking on this link.


  1. Such a wonderful post! I'll remember this on my family history travels and try and gather the photographs of old homes and haunts that are no longer standing. I truly enjoyed this tour.

  2. A beautiful tribute to your family's first home - on the Ohio River. It's so exciting to find those connections -- between photos, memory, and research, the puzzle comes together. I'm impressed with your diligence in following every lead!


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