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Henry Solomon Lehr Family Papers

Identifier: 0005

Collection Overview

The Henry Solomon Lehr Family Papers consists of three distinct sections of materials. The smallest of the sections is comprimised of three scrapbooks and photoalbums that document late 19th and early 20th century Lehr family history. The collection also contains eighteen historic manuscripts that primarily offer documentation of ancestors for Henry Solomon Lehr and date back to the mid-eighteenth century. These manuscripts include family vital records, papers related to immigration, military documents, and other document types. The collection also includes a number of publications that detail Lehr family history and Ohio Northern University history, all written by members of the Lehr family (Henry Solomon Lehr, Sarah Lehr Kennedy, and Stephen J. Kennedy).


  • Creation: 1747-1994


Language of Materials

While the majority of the records were written in English, a number of the family manuscripts were written in German dialects, including the Hulrich Lehr furlough note, Philipp Löhr's immigration documentation, and family Fraktur and religious records.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Note: In compliance with University Policy 6.1 if the user is affiliated with a media organization, or if the intended outcome for archival work is create a product that wil be featured by the media, then the user should first contact ONU's Communication and Marketing Office to coordinate their archival research/media request.

Conditions Governing Use

Where applicable, copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Users are responsible for determining the appropriate use and reuse of materials.

Biographical Note

Henry Solomon Lehr was born in Ohltown, Ohio on March 8, 1938. Henry was the eleventh child of John George and Salome Lehr. In the 1850s Lehr began part-time teaching, and enrolled at Mount Union College in 1857. His collegiate studies were disrupted by the start of the American Civil War. After multiple failed enlistment attempts, Lehr was assigned to Company G of the 86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Shortly after Lehr was discharged due to his health, but he reenlisted in the Federal Army in 1864 and this time was assigned to Company F of the 86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Lehr was hospitalized after the Battle of Nashville, and after his recuperation he served out the war as a nurse in the Nashville Post Hospital.

Post-war Lehr continued with his teaching career, and arrived in Ada, Ohio in 1866 where he became the village schoolmaster. In the evenings he would teach classes for a “select school” and in 1870 he began trying to secure funds to establish a Normal School within Ada. This led to the opening of the Northwestern Ohio Normal School in 1871, for which Lehr would serve as President from 1871-1900. Lehr established the focus of the university on professional education, creating programs for education, engineering, pharmacy, and law. During the initial years of the university, tuition was kept as low as possible to increase affordability for all applicants. By the 1890s however, the school faced financial difficulties and Lehr decided to transfer the Ohio Normal University to the Methodist Church for financial support.

Lehr resigned as the school’s president in 1900, but continued to serve the institution in a number of administrative roles until 1903 when he left the university due to conflicts with his successor, President Leroy Belt. Lehr returned to the Ada community in 1905 after Belt resigned, and remained close to the university until his death on January 28th, 1923.

The same year that Lehr came to Ada, he married Albina Johnson Hoover. Together they had six children, only two of whom survived until adulthood (Harriet May Lehr and Sarah Lenora Lehr). They also had two sets of twin boys (Willie, Eddie, Harry, and Harvey) all of whom passed before their first birthday. As they grew older, Harriet and Sarah both ended up studying and working at their father’s school for parts of their adulthood.

Henry Solomon Lehr’s ancestors lived in Germany (Philipp Löhr and Anna Christina Hundhaeuser) and Switzerland (Hans Ullrick Sonderegger), and emigrated to America in the 18th Century. Their family lines came together when John Hubert Lehr married Anna Barbara Sonderegger. John and Anna’s youngest son, John George married Salome Lessing in 1818, and in 1838 Salome gave birth to Henry Solomon Lehr.


1.5 Linear Feet (4 containers)


The Henry Solomon Lehr Family Papers document the life of Henry Solomon Lehr (founder and first President of Ohio Northern University), as well as offers insights into the lives of several of his ancestors and descendants. Materials in the collection date from the mid 18th century to the late 20th century and offer documentary evidence of 18th century European migration to America, 18th and 19th century German-American family life, and early Ohio Northern University history.

Custodial History

The family manuscripts that were donated by Henry Solomon Lehr were provided to Stephen J. Kennedy, which he consulted, along with othe historial documents, to write his Lehr family history. While in Kennedy's possession the manuscripts were encapsulated with transcriptions (non-English language manuscripts were translated and transcribed into English). Kennedy returned the manuscripts and donated a small number of additional family manuscripts in 1978.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Most of the individual manuscripts contained in the Henry Solomon Lehr Family Papers were donated to Ohio Northern University by Henry Solomon Lehr in 1908. A small number of additional manuscripts and copies of "The Lehr family" genealogical history were donated in 1978 by Stephen J. Kennedy, who also donated the Lehr Family History Book (scrapbook/photo album) in 1991.


As an academic archives that strives to advance historical research and understanding of our shared histories, the ONU Archives is committed to preserving and making accessible original, historic materials. This commitment to preserving materials in an uncensored form means that collections may contain offensive text, images, or recordings.

Processing Information

In an attempt to increase discoverability and to better support research inquiries, the Henry Solomon Lehr Family Papers was processed in 2018 after bringing together materials that were previously managed as separate small collections, but that shared similar provenance of being donated by members of the Lehr family. At the time of processig donor correspondence and other documents related to collection management were separated from the family papers and placed into a collection control folder.

Henry Solomon Lehr Family Papers, 1747-1994
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Repository Details

Part of the Ohio Northern University Archives Repository

Heterick Memorial Library
525 South Main Street
Ada Ohio 45810 United States