Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Riddance

At work today I was strongly tempted to spit on the calendar page that said February before turning it to March. 

Illness and revolving snow storms had already placed this February among the most overall craptastic months I can remember.  But last night managed to top it all.  In the course of 72 hours we went from blizzard to tornado warning and flood.

This is what our creek looked like at dawn this morning:

And this is what our basement looked like at dawn this morning:

I've been up right now since 2am.  I caught the basement early in the flooding, but Charles and I couldn't do a darn thing to stop it.  It was too dark at 2am to see it, but the creek had risen so high that the tile the sump pump drains into was itself underwater.  Because of this, no matter how long the sump pump ran it was unable to push any water out.  The water in the basement just kept rising.  God bless the crew from the local heating and plumbing company (same ones who installed our furnace & heat pump) who came out at 4am.  By 6am they had figured out the problem and had rigged a temporary tile that is by-passing the buried tile.  It is still pouring water about ten feet away from the house along the hill down to the creek. 

At its peak the water was somewhere around 10-12 inches deep throughout the entire basement.  Once the by-passed drain tile was in place the sump pump ran non-stop somewhere between 5 and 6 hours to empty the basement. 

It's going to take a lot longer than that to clean up the mess though.  The back room of our basement had a dirt floor.  It now has a mud floor.

The picture below (which is of the bin that collects dirty clothes under our laundry shoot) shows how high the water reached:

When the by-passed drain went into action the water was less than an inch from reaching our furnace, heat pump, hot water heater, washer and dryer.  As it is, the only valuables we may have lost are our shop vac and cordless drill.  We were lucky we didn't lose more down there.  But our greatest possible loss is outside the house.

I don't have any pictures of the stone bridge to post here.  Most of it is still under water anyway.  Most of what is left of it anyway.  Back in my 'plans for 2011' post I said we planned to make rebuilding the bridge a four year project, but after last night our timeline has been cut drastically.  Right now the middle of the bridge is still standing, but it appears the entire east side has mostly collapsed (and the west side was already collapsed before last night's storm).  One more backhanded slap from Mother Nature and I fear we won't have a stone bridge at all.  Our basement is one heck of a mess, but it's the bridge that has me fighting back tears. 

 So if you're reading this and have a few prayers to spare for north-central Ohio they would be much appreciated.  At least one neighboring county has been declared a "state of emergency" and based on phone calls and the internet I know that many, many of our family and friends are dealing with their own flooded homes right now.  I'd especially appreciate prayers for my parents.  In the morrow they face the not unexpected but still very painful loss of a much loved family pet.  In the morrow they will also face the continued job of salvaging what they can after pumping eight inches of water out of their own (partially-finished) basement.

So good riddance February.

(...and God-speed Redigen...)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Smith Years (1882-1893)

(Alternately titled "Kimberly Rants, Rambles, and Relies on Random Bits of Family and Local History to try to Disguise the Fact that She has No Clue What Happened at Her House Between 1882 and 1893".)

First, a brief explanation for my absence.  I'm still taking three out of four prescriptions and spent all of last week quarantined at home.  You would think that would mean I've had plenty of time to finish the kitchen, but, ummm, not so much. I'll get back to it eventually.

But - to the house.  Our last house history post ended on April Fool's Day, 1882, when Noah Einsel sold his stone house and 100 acres of land to John Henry Smith.  I groaned as soon as a saw the deed.  Those who know me in real life know that I like my houses old and I like my relatives old too.  I don't even mind if they're dead.  In fact the longer they've been dead the better.  In other words, I'm a genealogist.  And genealogists hate the name Smith. 

If you're looking through the index of 19th century marriage records for the county where you think your great, great, great grandparents got married you really want your great, great, great grandfather to have a surname like Winklefoos, or Quindleyplaas, or Schwartzengrubbier.  If Schwartzengrubbier shows up in the index at all you can be pretty darn sure you'll be related to every one that's listed (all 6 or 7 of them, yeah!).  But woe if you're looking for Great, Great, Great Grandpa Smith.  If he's there at all you'll have to sort through the other 274 indexed Smiths to find him.  266 of which you will not be related to at all.

The problem is somewhat lessened if your ancestor's first and middle names were a bit more risque.  Most genealogists can forgive a last name like Smith if it's preceded by a combination like Asberry Hiram, or Otha Lafayette, or Permenias Jasper.

But Permenias Jasper Smith didn't buy my house.  Frickin'-John frickin'-Henry frickin'-Smith bought my house.   The 1880 census for this county includes 33 John or John H. Smiths.  (And because I was curious I looked up the name Permenias Smith in the 1880 census - there are two results for the entire country, one each in Pennsylvania and New York).

But if you're a genealogist with the misfortune of having John Henry Smith as a great, great, grandfather you at least hope that Great Grandpa took for his wife a girl with a first name capable of salvaging this situation - something like Hildegarde would work pretty well.  With this hope in mind I flipped to my copy of the 1893 deed recording John H. Smith's sale of our house to Wilson Flack.  In particular I was looking for the dower clause near the end.  I was really hoping for Hildegard, although I would have been content with something like Harriet or Susannah or Rosina or anything please, as long as it's not...

Are you kidding me?  Mary?

It's quite possible that John and Mary Smith were lovely people, but other than their names I can't tell you a darn thing about them.  Of the 33 John Smiths living in this county in 1880, six had wives named Mary.  None of those six lived in this township.  In 1900 there were four John and Mary Smiths living this this county, again none of them in the correct township.  The 1890 census would be most helpful in identifying the correct John and Mary, but unfortunately most of the 1890 census was destroyed by a fire in the 1920s. 

I could keep trying.  Assuming the Smiths lived here during their childbearing years, my next step would be to visit the county probate court and scour birth records from 1882-1893 looking for any child born in this township whose parents were John and Mary Smith.  If I find something I could then use the child's name to track down his or her parents.  It's a bit of a long shot, but I've already tried the 'easy' stuff.

I've encountered the name Smith in my own family research but luckily not in any too prominent position.  (No Great, Great, Great Grandpa Smiths for me in other words.)  But the name Roush does feature prominently in my own genealogy, and in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia around 1900 Roush was even worse than Smith.  According to family lore, if you passed a gentleman while walking down the street in Point Pleasant around 1900 and said, "Hello, Mr. Roush" four out of five times you would be right. 

Hettie Ann Gray had married one of these Mr. Roushs in 1888, and by the time her fourth child was born in 1894 she was annoyed by the fact that her children inevitably shared their names with someone else in the community.  Hettie decided that her next baby would not have to share his name - and since 80% of the local population would have the same surname this meant Hettie would have to get creative with the baby's given names.  John, Richard, Edward, William and the like were out immediately.  Out too were Victor, Sylvester, Reuben and Otto.  Even Phineas and Elda and Orris had already been taken.  But Hettie didn't give up, and I can just imagine her with a little "beat that!" smirk on her face when my great grandfather was born on March 22, 1894.  She named him Ucebius Angelo Roush.  Perfect name for a tiny little WASP baby whose own Great, Great Grandfather Roush was one of nine brothers to fight in the American Revolution, don't you think?

But this story doesn't end on March 22, 1894.  As Ucebius and his siblings became teenagers a new worry began to consume their mother.  Sharing a name with another member of the community was troublesome enough, but sharing genes with another member of the community was even more worrisome.  And if you were a Roush living in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the early 1900s it was no easy task to find a potential spouse who wasn't also either a Roush or a descendant of a Roush.  (In fact, Hettie and her own Mr. Roush were themselves second cousins once removed....)

So, sometime around 1905 Ucebius Angelo Roush and his family left Point Pleasant.  The wonderful picture above was taken some years later near their new home at Deunquat, Ohio.  (Great Grandpa is the one holding the two white horses).  And since we're on the topic of unusual names I can hardly end this post without telling the story of Deunquat.  The village was named after the Wyandot Indian Doanguod, best remembered by local residents for his fervent hatred of white men and his equally fervent love of "fire water".  Sometime as an undergraduate I wrote a short paper on the history of Deunquat, but of course I can't find a copy of it at the moment so what follows is mostly from memory.

Deunquat didn't begin as Deunquat. The community was originally known as Swigart Station, a name that was probably borrowed from one of the early residents.  But Swigart Station was an informal (unincorporated) name and when rumors of a possible railroad began to surface two of the local residents began to see dollar signs.  There followed a race to have the town incorporated. 

Picture two roads intersecting to form a plus sign.  Our two greedy/bickering neighbors each bought one quarter of the community and each had their quarter incorporated.  The northeast quadrant was incorporated as "Petersburg" and the southeast quadrant as "Addison".  The official plat records for Petersburg and Addison were filed within days of each other.  Following these affronts to its existence, the northwest quadrant was belatedly incorporated as Swigart Station.  Thus the 1879 atlas for Wyandot County includes the following:

Note the route of the proposed railroad.  Also note that although the atlas clearly identifies "Swigart Station", "Petersburg" and "Addison" as three distinct areas it identifies the area in its entirety as "Petersburg".  This was a precursor of things to come.  The proposed railroad eventually was built, but by then the Petersburg moniker had overtaken the whole community.

By the time Ucebius Angelo Roush was born nearly 200 miles to the south, Petersburg, Ohio was in its glory days.  And somewhere right around the turn of the twentieth century came Petersburg's crowning moment - it was selected by the United States government as the location for a brand new post office.  But there was one small problem.  In order to avoid confusion, the postal service had a rule that no two posts in the same state could share the same name.  And there was already a post office in Ohio labeled Petersburg.  

Numerous names were suggested but the turn of the twentieth century was the heyday for obscure little towns all through Ohio, and finding a name for Wyandot County's newest post office that wasn't already in use somewhere else proved to be something of a challenge.  Until someone suggested the name "Deunquat".  And what do you know - there was no other town in Ohio called "Deunquat".  To make it official a small area of land just south of the exising town was platted and incorporated under the new name.  And before long "Petersburg" went the way of Swigart Station and Addison.

But Deunquat's glory days were brief.  The post office, railroad, and the local church closed.  Within the village today mobile homes outnumber the few buildings remaining from the Petersburg days.  Today there's not so much as a stop sign to slow the traffic on State Route 231.

But somewhere near Deunquat, sometime in the mid 1910s, Ucebius Angelo Roush met his future wife.  Cora Mollenkopf was visiting a school friend when the two girls took lunch out to the field where the Roush brothers were helping a local farmer.  Ucebius and Cora were married on Christmas Eve, 1917.  If you scroll back up to the beginning of this post you will see their wedding picture. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kitchen Again

Monday afternoon:

I was home with a sick kidlet on Monday, so I got a fair amount of painting accomplished.  As the above picture shows, I took off the back door so I could get a cleaner paint job around the door frame.  Thankfully, Monday was unusually warm for this winter.  It was about freezing.  (Tonight we'll be back down around zero.)

Tuesday night:

By Tuesday night I had the door back up and a second coat of paint on some of the beadboard.  The rest of that tape might be up through this weekend.  And the blue walls are still grating on me a bit (although the peach-y steel door is grating on me much more at the moment).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Before the Befores

As promised, this post will be full of older pictures of the house.  We've collected these from several sources - all various previous owners or renters of the EH.  The picture in yesterday's post is the oldest of the bunch.  (I'm still dreaming of finding a picture of the original front porch.)

Continuing with more exterior pictures of the house, here is an aerial photo taken in the mid 1990's:

We'd been told that the house used to be surrounded by trees, but seeing this picture still made me catch my breath.  The only tree in the above photo that was still standing by the time we bought the property is the solitary walnut alongside the drive at the bottom of the picture.  I do wish some of the trees around the house were still here.

Next up is the old bank barn:

I'm told the original barn sat basically where our pole barn now stands.  Although this picture only shows the front of the barn, there was a long "ell" off the back of the barn that extended down nearly to the creek.  Looking out the window as I type this, it's hard to believe the view of the pasture used to be so different.  The old barn was torn down in 1996/97, in preparation for putting the property on the market.  By all accounts the barn was in poor condition when it was torn down.  (It was also, by all accounts, full of large old growth timber.)

Up next, the south side of the house, mid 1990's:

This is one of my favorite old pictures of the house. I've got a list of "someday" projects for the EH, and high on that list is bringing back that little side porch.

At left is a close up of the porch from the picture above. I love the pilaster at the top of the right handrail (which also gives me clues as to recreating the original front porch, another "someday" project). I'm also pleased that this picture shows the interior walls of the porch were covered in clapboard siding. The large pipe that is visible was the vent for the bathroom. If we ever do reopen the side porch we will almost certainly move the bathroom's location at the same time, meaning we could forego this one detail.

The pictures below show the same area, circa 1996 at left, and today at right:

The door and window in the 1996 picture went out to the porch pictured above.  The current door goes to the bathroom.  I wish the 1996 picture was brighter so that I could make out more details on the door. (Looks like we need a larger area rug!)

Our 1996 photographer did a 180 degree turn after taking the above picture to snap these two pictures of the kitchen:

(I hope you'll forgive me, P, if you ever see this blog post, but it was one of the best pictures of the old kitchen.) 

These earlier kitchen pictures intrigue me. What I see in these pictures (especially the horizontal board 2/3 up the wall) seems to reinforce my belief that the kitchen addition dates from the 1880s or earlier.

At right is a current photo taken at the same angle as the right picture above.  The ivory light-switch and plate in the current photo are black in the earlier photo, if that helps you orient the two pictures.  The left picture above shows the wall that used to divide the kitchen wing into two rooms.  (Note the flue cover, and compare it to the location of the chimney in the picture below.) 

The last picture I have to share today shows the back of the house, again circa 1996.  See the little cupola over the kitchen roof?  No one I've talked to can ever remember it having a bell, but it seems obvious to me that it was intended to house a bell.  The cupola blew off during a storm sometime after 1997.  Replacing it is another item on the "someday" list. 

And with that, I'll end this post.  I've got a cake cooling in the kitchen and a seven-year-old boy who is quite anxious to frost it.  : )

Friday, February 4, 2011

Recognize this place?

This is the same view of the house as the pictures in the blog header.  Taken circa late 1970s I'm guessing.  Look at those trees.  I'm not sure who the guy working on the porch is.  Nor am I sure why all that wood is piled up by the old side porch.

More 'old' pictures coming soon....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day

I took that picture on Wednesday when Charles and I walked down the lane to check the mail.  Charles and the kids have not had school since Monday (and I don't think it looks too good for tomorrow.)  It's not often that I get a snow day, but thanks to this winter storm we did get one day with all four of us at home. The snow itself isn't too problematic, but the thick layer of sleet/ice on top of that snow meant that I got to devote Wednesday to my kitchen.  It was a glorious day.  : )

  I went from this:

to this:

And I tacked up this little section as well:

I owe Mother Nature a thank you.  My weekends have been monopolized lately by life-other-than-the-house and that's a trend that is going to continue well into February, so I was very grateful to have an entire day to putter about putting up more beadboard.  These were the last two sections of beadboard in the north end of the room.  I've got a fair amount of painting ahead of me and then it will be on to the kitchen cupboards/crown molding portion of this project.