Built in 1891, this old wooden building was a house and sign painting business owned by Charles Seybold
Charles Seybold operated a house and sign painting business out of this wooden shop, constructed in 1891 at 3606 Jacob Street in South Wheeling, West Virginia. He lived in the yellow brick house with a gable roof seen at far right, which is now boarded-up.
Union painter in a union town
Wheeling was an industrial town, with foundries, factories, mills, breweries and tobacco. Because of the industry, Wheeling was also a prominent labor union town and experienced several large labor strikes in the early 1900s, including major steel strikes in 1909-10, and 1919. Walter Phillips Reuther, a famous union organizer, labor activist, and president of the United Auto Workers, was born in Wheeling.
A product of this heady labor environment, Seybold was a proud union painter. He was listed in an 1896 newspaper ad that identified union painters in Wheeling. The ad also called-out some contractors for claiming to hire union painters when they were actually using non-union labor.
Based on my research, it also seems that Charles Seybold may have been a German immigrant. Immigrants — especially Germans and Irish — flooded into the Wheeling to provide manpower. Immigrants from Poland, Ukraine, and other Eastern European countries also came. This diversity of nationalities created a wealth of churches, social organizations, and festivals, including the German Saengerfests.
The time a gun was fired into his house (1891)
Seybold was named in the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer newspaper in July 1891, when a young lady living upstairs in his home narrowly escaped injury from a gunshot. The piece didn’t specify if the woman was related to Seybold. The newspaper notice is quoted below:
“A girl living in the upstairs of Charles Seybold’s residence, No. 3816 Jacob street, had a narrow escape Saturday. A boy named Hildebrecht had loaded a gun with a slug, the gun went off and the slug passed through a window, missing the young woman’s head by about six inches.”2
The house address in that 1891 article is a different location — a few blocks down the street — from the one that adjoined Seybold’s house painting business.
Trouble at the firehouse next door (1895)
On another occasion, Seybold was cited in the Wheeling Register (Feb. 18, 1895) as a witness in a formal hearing about the bad and disruptive behavior of firemen at the neighborhood firehouse.3
There’s a modern fire station adjacent to Seybold’s now-abandoned house at 3608 Jacob Street, but apparently, there’s been a fire station there since the 1800s, because Seybold was called to testify in an 1895 hearing about the bad conduct of the firemen there. As a next door neighbor, he would have been well aware of rowdiness.
Other witnesses complained of raucous behavior, excessive drinking, and fighting. A witness in defense of the firemen said this about one of them: “George Butler was a fine fireman and a good driver. ‘Butler, with half a gallon of beer in him, can do better driving than any other man sober.’ ” Presumably they were still driving horse-drawn wagons in 1895.
Charles Seybold was quoted as saying, “conduct of the men was very bad; swearing and cursing and vile language went on all the time. Of late it had been better. Sometimes the racket was so great people gathered across the street, and the firemen ought to have been arrested.”
Obituary for Wheeling house painter Charles Seybold (1915)
Funeral services will be held this morning at 8:30 o’clock over the remains of the late Charles Seybold at
the family home. No. 56 Alley 20. Requiem high mass will be celebrated at St. Alphonsus church, and interment will be made in Mt. Calvary cemetery.”
My new Wheeling Portfolio eBook: Learn more about South Wheeling History and Architecture
This story about Charles Seybold was adapted from my new ebook, The Wheeling Portfolio. It offers a series of black and white photographs made in South Wheeling, West Virginia, along with my rationale for the project; artist statement; histories of the city and of the buildings shown in the images, plus, stories about some of the the early occupants; historic maps and newspaper clippings; camera metadata; and citations supporting the histories published in the book.
The Wheeling Portfolio eBook
(2021) Keith Dotson
$4.99 digital download
49-pages, October, 2021, PDF, 108 MB.
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Thanks for reading
1. National Register of Historic Places Draft Registration Form, United States Department of the Interior National Park Service, https://www.wheelingwv.gov/media/Economic%20Development/Historic%20District/WV_OhioCounty_SouthWheelingHistoricDistrict_DRAFT.pdf
2. The Wheeling daily intelligencer. [volume] (Wheeling, W. Va.), 06 July 1891. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026844/1891-07-06/ed-1/seq-5
3. Wheeling register. [volume] (Wheeling, W. Va.), 19 Feb. 1895. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86092518/1895-02-19/ed-1/seq-5