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The two-story wood home known today as Hanby House was built as a private residence in 1846 and purchased by Bishop William Hanby in 1853. For the 16 years that the Hanby family lived here it was a station on the Underground Railroad, and it was in this house that Benjamin Hanby wrote his most famous song, "Darling Nelly Gray" (thought of as the musical equivalent of Uncle Tom's Cabin). Due to the welcoming nature of Bishop Hanby and his family, the home became known as the "House of Brotherhood." In 1870 the Hanbys had to sell the home, and it had many different owners over the next 50 years, including Squire Fouse, whose son William Henry Fouse was to become Otterbein's first African-American graduate and later a prominent educator in Lexington, Kentucky.
Between 1921 and 1927, the house remained empty and fell into disrepair. When word of the home's imminent demolition reached Otterbein graduate Dacia Custer Shoemaker, she had her husband purchase the house. Over the next ten years Mrs. Shoemaker raised the money needed to restore the structure, and on June 13, 1937, the Hanby House was dedicated and presented to the Ohio Historical society. In attendance that day with Mrs. Shoemaker were Brainerd O. Hanby (Benjamin's son) and W.H. Fouse. In 1981, due to budget cutbacks, the Ohio Historical Society turned the management of Hanby House over to the Westerville historical society, which manages Hanby House to this day.
William Hanby was an early supporter of education in the United Brethren Church and especially of Otterbein, and Benjamin Hanby, Otterbein's best known graduate, still receives recognition for his songs "Up on the Housetop" and "Who is He in Yonder Stall."
Miller, Millard J. House of Brotherhood: Story of the Hanby House. Westerville, OH: Westerville Historical Society, 1987.
Ohio Historical Society. Hanby, Benjamin, House [Otterbein College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1970.
Shoemaker, Dacia Custer. Choose You This Day: The Legacy of the Hanbys. Westerville, OH: Westerville Historical Society, 1983.