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This Old House

Posted by marie on 5/31/03 at 22:28 (120580)

Story Time

I live in 'This Old House'. Our home is 102 years old. When we bought the place it was a mess. It was a little on the creepy side. The folks who owned it before us made a disaster of the house. It looked like an old haunted house. But we could see the potential...the floors had inlayed parkay patterns and the woodwork was still in decent condition. There are red oak pillars in the library and beautiful bevel glass windows in the front. There were hundreds of pennies everywhere in the house, which has four floors. It seemed every time I got a room ready to work on all I did was pick up pennies....everywhere pennies. It took two years of endless dedication to bring it back to it's glory. As with many old homes there are stories but we didn't expect the story of our house to make it into the National Enquirer. My Mom called me from NC and told me she read the story of our house in the Enquirer while she was at the beauty parlor. So now I'll share it with you folks.

Our house was built in 1902. The man that built the house sold it a few years later to a family who the house is named for. It is known as the Williamson house. Sometime in the late 50s the Williamson's daughter-in-law, Grace, was helping her in-laws do a spring cleaning. While she was cleaning out the fruit cellar, (I didn't know we had one until I read the article), she came across an old Bible partially burried in the dirt. It was in decent condition but fragil. The Bible belonged to a man whose last name was Stewart. He was a confederate soldier from Alabama. It was a common practice for soldiers to take their Bibles with them into war. Grace often wondered how a confederate Bible ended up in a fruit cellar in
Northern Indiana. She tried to locate some of the decendents of the names in the Bible but had no luck. She wondered if there was a possibility that these folks may be related to a well known confederate officer named Jeb Stewart. She hung onto the Bible for years after the house had left their families ownership.

Years past....there is a story that our house is haunted by a confederate soldier. According to the folks we bought the house from he likes to turn lights on and off and likes to flush the toilets. The previous owners put pennies all over the place to ward off the spirits. Of course we didn't know any of this until after we signed all the papers.

We worked on the house for a year before it was livable. Grace who is well into her nineties had to go into a nursing home. She sent the Bible to her daughter who happened to be living in Alabama with the hopes that she could locate the descendents. Amazingly enough she was able to locate a decendent of one of Stewart's daughters. Apparently, Stewart and his two sons were killed in the war leaving no male descendents to carry on the family name. And just as Grace thought, Stewart was Jeb Stewart's cousin. His son was Jeb Stewart's personal aide. Apparrently the Bible was taken by a Union soldier, whose name escapes me, during the burning of Atlanta. The young union soldier died in battle and all his belongings were sent to his widow here in Northern Indiana. We still don't know how the Bible got in our fruit cellar. All I know is that the Bible was returned to the rightful owners the day we finally moved into our house. We have never seen or heard the confederate soldier who supposedly haunted our house. We hope that he can rest in peace and not flush toilets in the middle of the night. The End!

Re: This Old House

Kathy G on 6/01/03 at 10:01 (120602)

That's absolutely fascinating, Marie! I couldn't imagine, while I was reading it, why you kept finding pennies. Isn't it amazing that your house, which really isn't that old, has such a storied past?

I'm glad it's no longer haunted and I thank you for sharing this story with us!

Re: This Old House

JudyS on 6/02/03 at 17:40 (120750)

Marie what a wonderful story! I am so jealous of your turn-of-the-century house that I can barely see straight. You've done what I've dreamed of my entire adult life. Problem is that the fella I live with doesn't have the same dream.....even if he did it'd be tough finding a victorian to rehab here in San Diego. There are some - but they are all in horrible shape in high-crime areas. Did you enjoy the rehab?

Re: This Old House

marie on 6/02/03 at 20:12 (120763)

We enjoyed it when we got done. The best thing we did was hire a handyman who happened to be an electrician. The house was really bad. We hired out everything we didn't think we could handle. Dealing with contractors was an experience. I thought I had it scheduled so each contractor would be there for two weeks and be finished before the next started. The roofer, the outside house painters, the carpet installer, the garage builders, the guys that redid our basement all showed up on the same day. Between the jackhammers in the basement and the pounding on the roof I thought I was going to go nuts. My kids came in and asked if I knew there was a guy in the basement with peirced nipples. I said 'yes and that's why he was in the basement'. We painted and cleaned....which didn't sound to bad until we started. It took 9 months to get the upstairs liveable. We moved in and continued to work on it for the next several months. I spent several months in physical theropy from all of the painting. My neck was in pretty bad shape. But it is beautiful. I learned right away that we really don't own a house like this. We're just the caretakers.


Re: This Old House

JudyS on 6/03/03 at 11:31 (120791)

Oh Marie stop please! I'm turning green with envy with your every word! Nine months to make it livable? Cool B-). Well OK - I'm sure you didn't think so! A few years ago my husband, son and I took on the project of removing the texture from our ceilings, then spraying new, paintable texture on. My job was to mix huge buckets full of the new texture with a fairly powerful drill/mixer combination. As a result my arms, wrists and shoulders were in agony for several weeks. Hmmm...you know, I'm only just figuring out that I'm not as strong as I used to be :)

Re: This Old House

Bev on 6/03/03 at 17:10 (120821)

We spent 25 years remodling our last house. We did it little by little as we could afford it , what fun - not :D

Re: This Old House

JudyS on 6/03/03 at 17:16 (120823)

My husband and I will spend the entire summer creating a back yard. Our house backs up to a hill and, except for a small deck, there's never been any landscaping, or, for that matter, any yard to speak of. I'm taking 'before and after' photos :)

Re: This Old House

marie on 6/03/03 at 21:13 (120838)

Sounds like a challenging project. Keep us posted.