The Two Headington House Hotels

Name something Portland, Indiana, and Celina, Ohio, have in common.

Actually, the towns probably have several things in common, but I am thinking of one specific thing that relates to my family history.

Both Portland and Celina had a Headington House Hotel at one time.

I have Headington ancestry and I have learned that I am distantly connected to the proprietors of both establishments.

The Headington surname was rather common in Portland, but not common in Celina. I knew about Portland’s Headington House, built in 1870 by Nimrod Headington (1827-1913), but I was surprised to learn that Celina also had a Headington House, information that I learned from Joyce Alig.

Although both homes were built just a year apart, one in 1870 and the other in 1871, Celina’s stately home would not be known as the Headington House until the 1930s.   

Portland’s Headington House

The Headington House in Portland was built in 1870 by Nimrod Headington. Nimrod Headington was the brother of my fourth great-grandfather, William Headington. The Headingtons were originally from Maryland.

A couple years ago I posted Nimrod Headington’s 1852 journal, Trip to California, in a number of installments. In his journal, Headington recounted his travels from Knox County, Ohio, to New York, where he boarded the sailing ship Racehound and sailed around South America to California, to join the California gold rush. After his adventure he returned to Knox County, served in the Civil War, and eventually moved to Portland, where he built the Headington House Hotel and later was appointed the town’s postmaster.

Nimrod Headington (1827-1913)

Nimrod Headington ran the hotel for 12 years, according to his 1901 biography. The 1880 census indicates Nimrod Headington was a hotel keeper in Portland.

 Below is an ad for Portland’s Headington House, printed in the Fort Wayne Daily Gazette, 16 December 1873:

1873 ad for Headington House, from Ft. Wayne Daily Gazette.

Unfortunately, the ad does not give the address of the Hotel. I do not know where the hotel was located, how long it operated, or if it is still standing. I have no photo of it.

Celina’s Headington House

Celina’s Headington House Hotel did not start out as the Headington House. It was originally the Snyder Home, built in 1871 by Alexis Parker Jones Snyder, aka A.P.J. Snyder (1828-1901). Snyder was one of the early publishers of Mercer County newspapers, papers known through the years as The Mercer County Standard, The Western Standard, and today as The Daily Standard.

The Snyder House was located on the northwest corner of East Market and North Ash Street in Celina. The address was 129 E. Market. It was just east of today’s The Daily Standard Building and across the street from the Riley House, currently the home of Mercer County Historical Museum.

The six-bedroom cost $700 to build in 1871.

Snyder home, later the Headington House, Celina, Ohio, 1882 sketch, Mercer/Van Wert County History.

The Snyder House stayed in the Snyder family until 1925, when the family sold it to John and Jennie S. Bedell. In 1937 widow Jennie S. Bedell sold the house and property to widow Elma D. (Hartzell) Headington (1892-1970).

Elma was the widow of Kenneth Glen Headington. So technically, I was related to her husband Ken Headington (1888-1933).

The 1940 census shows Elma’s address as 129 East Market, but no occupation was given for her.

The 1953 and 1960 Celina City Directories both indicate that Elma Headington was the widow of KG, living at the Headington House Hotel, 129 E. Market St. The next entry is the Headington House Hotel, 129 E. Market, furnished rooms. Both entries have the same phone number, 3134. [1] 

Elma (Hartzell) Headington died in Celina 6 May 1970. According to her obituary she was born in Fort Recovery 24 March 1892, the daughter of George Douglas and Mary Elizabeth (Stoner) Hartzell. Elma married Kenneth Headington in 1916 and he died in 1933.

Her obituary said that Elma Headington owned and operated the Headington House in Celina since 1934 and that she had closed her doors a week before her death.

After Elma’s death the house and property passed to her daughter Jean. The Standard Printing Company purchased the property from Elma’s daughter in 1972.

Celina’s Headington House, originally the Snyder House, was torn down sometime after 1972 and the Standard Printing Company added an addition to their existing structure where the house once stood.

I have only the old sketch of the house but I would love to see a more recent photo, before it was torn down.

A couple other interesting bits of Headington trivia:

There is village named Headington in the U.K. In the village of Headington there is a Headington House, built 1775-1783, as well as a Headington Manor House. It appears both are still standing.

Nimrod Headington had a niece named Celina Headington (1854-1856). Celina was the daughter of William and Mary Ann (Cottrell) Headington, my direct Headington ancestors. William and Nimrod were brothers.

Next week, how I am related to Ken Headington.

[1] U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995, Celina, Ohio, 1953, p.231 and 1960, p.339, Elma Headington & Headington House; database on-line, Ancestry.com.

7 comments

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  1. Hi Karen,
    very interesting family history.

    Col. Nimrod Headington was a very venturesome person to say the least. Do you have any idea how long the trip around S. A. would have taken. And then to think that he returned back to Ohio.

    1. His voyage, sailing from New York, around South America, to San Francisco, took 5 months. He returned to his family after being gone for 2 years. Thanks for writing.

    • Deb Miller on February 18, 2022 at 9:23 am
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    Very interesting. I love the history.

    1. Thank you!

    • Deb on February 18, 2022 at 10:37 am
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    How cool thanks for sharing

    • Janet James on February 25, 2022 at 9:05 pm
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    Dear Karen, Interesting story. Have you ever researched the hotel in Willshire that was just south of the Jones & Byer Ford Dealership. Mary Stetler had her ice cream shop there in the 50’s. The Hotel was a wooden structure and fairly large, 2 story building. I believe it has a lot of history and I’d like to learn more about it. Thanks.

    1. I wrote a little about Willshire’s hotel some time ago but I don’t know much of its history. However, Sondra shared some information about it with me and I will probably write more sometime. I do remember it and the ice cream parlor. Thanks for writing!

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