The Littell Family

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

The name Littel is found in the records of our church for over 125 years. The most recent member with that surname was Cora Littell, to whom our current Heritage Room is dedicated.

Following is a biography of Mr. and Mrs. William Littell, the original members of the family to attend our church. It was published in the “Commercial of 1888.” William was born in 1811 and died in 1896, while his wife Elizabeth was born in 1813 and died in 1898. They were married in 1835 by Josiah Forbes. A window in the southeast corner of the Essex Street church building is dedicated to them.

William Littell, whose well-known features will be readily recognized by old as well as young citizens, was born in Cincinnati in 1811. He was born in a log cabin, which stood at the corner of Race and Water Streets. He has always lived in Cincinnati and has been in his whole life deeply interested in the city’s progress. He was married to Elizabeth Garrison in 1835. Four children of the union are living: William James, Edward Prior, Joseph Hand and Mrs. Elizabeth Knerr of Dayton, Ohio. William Littell is still remarkably active and lives with his estimable wife at 243 Betts Street surrounded by home comforts and the center of a large circle of friends, who are endeared to the memorable pair through many generous social attributes.

His father died when the children were young, and the widow was given a home for herself and the children by Shakers then living in Lebanon, Ohio. In exchange for her and the children’s work, the children were given schooling and taught a job. Mr. Littell has always had a soft spot in his heart for the Shakers, and they always had hospitable entertainment at his home over night every time they came to town on business.

Little else is known of William. His obituary states that his profession was “expressman.” In the 19th century, an expressman was responsible for the safe transport, (usually by train) of valuable objects such as gold. With the advent of the industrial revolution, the safe transport of money from company to company was integral to business and industry. It is also known that his son, Joseph, was an officer in the Mt. Auburn Incline Railroad, and served on the city’s incline railroad Board of Advisors. At one time there were over a dozen incline railroads in the city. Finally, it is also known that William served as an officer for many years in the local chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows.

Image: Plaque in the Heritage Room.