Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's Still There!

What's still there, you ask? The residence of John Brubaker, my 3rd great grandfather, that's what! Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful fall day here in northeast Indiana and I couldn't resist taking advantage of it. After running some errands, it was about 2:30 in the afternoon by the time I got to Huntington County. A few minutes later I was in the area where I thought the house should be, and there it was! It didn't quite look the same as in the image from the atlas, but I was pretty sure it was the right house. I pulled off to the side of the road and took a couple of pictures. The sun was in the "wrong" position for a really good shot, but it does show some of the details. The house is some distance from the road. Thank goodness for zoom lenses!

Comparing the two images, the first thing I noticed was that the pitch of the roof is steeper in the old image (artistic license perhaps?), several of the chimney's have been removed, and the brick exterior has been painted. The porch has been extended to the full depth of the offset and a sloped roof replaces the railed deck. There is only one entrance off of the porch into the house. The door going into the south facing section has been removed. The second window above the porch was actually a door. It too has been removed as has the "front" door (the empty space below the 3rd upstairs window). Modern insulated windows have replaced the originals, and the decorative thing-a-ma-jigs above the windows are gone.

Cropped portion of the picture used in the 1876 atlas, shown in a previous post.

Looking southeast, showing the room that was added onto the southwest corner of the house and some of the out-buildings.

After taking the pictures, I did something that I've never done before. I saw a car in the driveway so I drove up to the house. I was greeted by a very friendly black lab and a small golden haired retriever-mix. They didn't bark or make a sound, which I thought was odd. Anyway, I petted them for a minute and then went onto the porch and knocked on the door. No answer. I peeked around behind the house thinking perhaps someone was outside, but there wasn't anybody there. Went back on the porch and knocked on the door again. Still no answer. Waited a few minutes, knocked again. No answer. So I left. As I was driving down the lane out to the road, the school bus pulled up and dropped off several children. After speaking with them for a few seconds, I turned around and went back to the house, where their mother was waiting on the porch!

She hadn't heard me knocking on the door. She was very nice and friendly. I showed her a copy of the picture of John's house and she confirmed that it was the same house. She said that she was told that the house had been built in the early 1850s. She and her husband purchased the house eight years ago from a couple that had bought it about 1970. She didn't know who they had purchased it from.

After a few minutes of chatting on the porch she invited me inside. The walls are solid brick, at least 12" thick. It's hard to see from the pictures above, but the house is really two rectangular "sections" that are offset by the depth of the porch. So the back, or south facing section, is only as long as the north facing section. We didn't go down into the basement but I didn't think to ask whether it was a full or partial basement or whether its walls were stone or brick.

There are two fairly large rooms on each floor of the front section. There is just one large room in the back section on each floor but the enclosed stairway is also on that side of the house. At the top of the stairs there is a large landing area that has been converted into a closet and a hallway. I was surprised by the height of the rooms upstairs as they have 8' ceilings. I was expecting them not to be as high as those downstairs. There are no fireplaces left in the house.

The only change to the original footprint of the house is the addition of a room at the back, southwest corner, downstairs. It is actually two small rooms. One is being used as the laundry room and back entrance and the other is a galley-type kitchen.

All in all, I must say, it was a very nice day!


Taylorstales-Genealogy said...

That had to be one of the BEST "field trips" you have ever taken. I would have approached the homeowner as well, especially if I had brought some pictures. You went to a great deal of trouble, I'm so happy for you. The house is still there, yippee!

Jasia said...

Oh my gosh Becky! How cool is that? The house looks amazingly good after all these years and begs the comment, "they don't build them like they used to!". What a testament to the construction used that it is still standing proudly after all this time.

What a grand adventure for you to see it and even have a tour of it. Boy, you and Thomas and your ancestor home tours have really given me home envy!

Becky Wiseman said...

Definitely one of the highlights of my recent research!

Jasia - The ancestral home that Thomas described in his post (the Freel house) is also one of my ancestor's homes. Way cool.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Wow! How lucky you were to get a tour. I'm happy it was still there for you to see.