Saturday, June 3, 2017

A little for the History Fanatics.

Something that has fascinated me of recent is the history of our new home. A few weeks ago, someone bought a house up the street that needs a "hug" as my neighbor calls it. It doesn't just need a hug, it needs CPR. As we were speculating who bought the house before it went on the market, I started researching the life-support home to see what I could find out.

You know what I found out?

House Be Haunted.

It has to be. Okay, so it doesn't have to be- but I have two words for you: Indian Graveyard.

Right, right, right... political correctness and all: Native American Place of Eternal Rest.

I am exaggerating. At least, I think I am.

sidenote: the people buying the house are going to do an awesome job restoring it and I cannot wait to see what will happen when they breath life into the walls. 

When I was a kid, there were two homes next to each other in my old neighborhood that my dad swore were built on a Indian Native American Place of Eternal Rest. In the span of about 15 years, there was a murder, a burglary, a freak chemical fire that pillaged the whole house, a murder-suicide, and plenty of dead grass to make the neighbors shake their heads in shame. Let's throw in some black cats for good measure. We didn't ride our bikes on that street and said Hail Mary's when we drove by them. Forget Halloween.

Native. American. Place. Of. Eternal. Rest.

I digress.

So, I started doing research on what will be the jewel of the street and realized that I could do the same thing for my house.

Heyyyyy, New Hobby! I love hobbies!

Heads up-- my street has been spelled four different ways that I can find so far. Oh, and I had to actually write down what a "grantor" and "grantee" are-- I kept getting them mixed up.

I have been down to the courthouse and rummaged through deeds, loan paperwork, plats, and old boxes that have yet to be organized. I've been glued to the newspaper archives and am constantly jumping down a new rabbit hole to see what I can uncover about this place we call home.

I even found old fire insurance maps to see how the buildings were on the property at different points in time.

I've learned a few things about my home and about my town. First things first, while some parts of the courthouse keep awesome records and are incredibly organized.... other parts do NOT. For instance, I went to the building permits department and have been informed by two parties there that they have no records prior to 1999 as they were destroyed in a flood.


Why does this make me think that someone doesn't want to start organizing those nasty boxes that have bugs crawling through them? (said the girl that screamed today when she saw a worm)

While we are not the fifth family to live in this house, we are the fifth owners. This house was built on a 1/6 of "Block D." Sometime after Mary Biggar Andrews purchased the grounds, she cut the large lot in half, splitting the other half into thirds- selling those pieces with homes being built around 1931.

Her husband, William Andrews, died in September 1930. His death certificate has him living on Walton Way at "Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe" which he opened about a year prior. Ye Curiosity Shoppe is long gone, replaced with the parking lot of a bakery.... that has since been torn down.

In doing research on a home, you have to do research on the families that lived here. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews were married in January, 1910- the location of the wedding moved from St. Paul's church downtown to the home of her mother due to a death in the groom's family. The bride looked striking in a taffeta suit and the home was beautifully decorated with ferns. Ferns? Taffeta? Oiye.

Mrs. Andrews bought the property in her own name on April 5, 1915. Today, it is nothing for a wife to buy a home in her own name.... but 102 years ago? Different story. Why'd she buy the house and not her husband? Speaking of different stories, she bought the property for $2,000.

Nerd Alert: $2,000 in 1915 is equal to $48,420 in 2017. That's a 2,321.0% inflation rate.

Construction must have started promptly because I find an advertisement in August, 1915 that says:

What the who? The home is not even finished and he is trying to rent it out. I wonder about this fella'. 

--  I feel compelled to pronounce it "ad-vertis-ment" and not "ad-ver-ties-ment"-- the "ad-vertis-ment"

I don't know what happened between August, 1915 and June, 1920- but I can tell you what happened in June 1920. His dad died. How do I know?

In case you can't read it, how about I give you the gist? 

(1) Dad was visiting his son. 
(2) His passing was a shock. 
(3) He had not seemed ill. Before retiring to bed, he spoke of not feeling well.
(4) "The sound of difficult breathing waked a member of the family who went to him at once and saw that he was unconscious."  
(4a) ummmm..... creepy.
(5) The doctor was summoned.
(6) Upon examination: life was declared extinct.

"Mr. Andrews was a Christian gentleman of the old school, a life long and devoted...[lots of words] sons and four daughters...."

Can you imagine what "old school" must have meant in 1920?!

Looking up and down the street, I find Mrs. Andrews mother and sisters living a few doors down, sharing a home. Her sister, Roberta, worked in various capacities at the Tuttle-Newton Home before spending 29 years as superintendent. Tuttle-Newton was an orphanage way back when. Roberta was said to be a pioneer of welfare and charity work. Cool fact about Roberta: though never married, she adopted a daughter, Margaret Elizabeth.

Throughout the years, I see the home described as:

- An attractive home, living, dining, pantry, kitchen, three bedrooms, bath, sleeping porch upstairs, garage, nice large lot

- 8 rooms, 2 baths

- The William Andrews Home -- it was called "The William Andrews Home" I know this because there was a blurb in the social column that Mr and Mrs  John R Palmer have leased the William Andrews Home in January 1930. We can fast forward 18 months and see that the Palmers are gone and Mrs. Andrews has returned to the home.

- 7 rooms, bath, garage, servant's house and toilet in yard {Mental note: let's not go digging around in the backyard}

... The garage is long since gone. In its place is an oak hydrangea and the fort that Husband built the kids on Mother's Day. The servant's house is still there. It's a shed now. No word on the toilet in the yard, but I will say-- there is a patch of yard in the back right corner where nothing dies and it stays green year round.

Enough for now, there's plenty more to say, but that's another day.

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