Thursday, January 29, 2009
I started with the deed history of the house, and right away ran into a problem: a 45-year gap in the records, from 1888 to 1933. Closing that gap by way of deed records would have involved hours and hours of tedious research at the County courthouse. I love research more than anyone probably should (as you may have noticed) but I didn't relish the thought of all that. So, I put on my little Sherlock Holmes thinking cap--which is really an Army National Guard polarfleece cap, if you must know--and set out to find the house history another way. I just had to close that gap. Without it, I didn't really know anything at all about the house's history.
So off to the library I went, thinking that if this James C. Kelly who owned my property was a County resident for any substantial length of time, there would be something in the genealogy/local history section of the library. The first thing I located was an 1880 "History of Lafayette County", in which I found a very brief biography of a James Kelly. From that I learned that he owned several tracts of farmland around the county and raised beef cattle and horses. Next I went back to the 1870 plat map I told you about earlier, where I found the engraving of the Withers house. The plat showed a couple of fairly large tracts of land in western Lafayette County. Finding all those tracts of land suggested that James Kelly had put down roots in Lafayette County. But, I still didn't know that the James Kelly in the 1880 "History" was the same James Kelly who had owned my property and I was no closer to knowing if the Kelly family had any history with my house itself. I wondered if James Kelly was buried in Lafayette County, so I looked him up in Marty Helm Brunetti's "Tombstone Inscriptions for Lafayette County", starting first with the volume for Machpelah Cemetery in Lexington. There I found a tombstone inscription for James C. Kelly and Maria L. Kelly, the same names on the 1887 deed to my property. That gave me an exact date of death, so I went to the microfilm records for Lexington newspapers and zinged along the reel until I found the week of September 9, 1916. There was James C. Kelly's obituary, with some biographical information that matched what was in the 1880 "History". Okay, same guy. But still no house history. I wondered where Mr. Kelly was living at the time of his death, so I went to the Missouri State Archives website, where images of death certificates from 1910 to 1957 are available. When the image popped up, I was excited to see that Mr. Kelly's address at the time of his death was the address I live at now. That meant he'd lived in that house most likely from the time the house was built until his death. His address was also his place of death. Cool, he died in my house. Wonder if that's him I hear whistling sometimes?
About this time, my friend Mattie called to ask me if I wanted to meet him at the pub for supper. Thinking I was at a good stopping point in my research, I said I'd see him there in ten minutes. (It's a block down the street from the library.) Being the good little library patron that I am, I decided to reshelve the books I'd been using before I left for supper.
But what I found next changed my plans for the evening.
As I was reshelving the tombstone book, my eyes fell on a slim book with KELLY written on the spine. Could that be the James Kelly family? The same James Kelly family? Could I be that lucky?? The inside cover read "The KELLYs: From Alabama to Georgia to Missouri, A Family History Compiled by Katheryn Renee Johnson Scott". From Mr. Kelly's death certificate, I knew he was born in Alabama. I checked the index eagerly....Kelly, James C. Maybe, possibly, the same person. That James C. Kelly had the same date of birth and date of death as the James C. Kelly buried in Machpelah and his wife's name was Maria Louise (Duncan) Kelly. Whoo-hoo! I threw my coat and hat on the floor, called Mattie to tell him he'd have to eat with someone else, and settled into a big chair to read all about the Kelly family. I took notes, photocopied pages, and took more notes. When the library closed, I seriously considered "borrowing" the book in a manner the library would never approve of: by hiding it under my coat. (It's considered a reference book and so is not available for checkout.)
The next day, I realized that I was far afield of the original purpose of my research. House history. Must focus. I went back to the library to read some more of the Kelly family history. Entwined among all the wonderful anecdotes about the family (every single one of which I wanted to share!) was, here and there, the phrase "the South Street house". By going back and forth between the Kelly history, death certificates, and deed records, I learned that the house had been passed down first to Willa and Alice Curtis and then to Aubrey and Kate Kelly.
Over lunch with my mom one day I was lamenting the lack of existing structures connected to the Kelly family. She said brightly, "I wonder if some of them are in LaVeda's book? I'll look!" My mom's friend LaVeda has a collection of dozens of photos taken by her family over the hundred-plus years they've lived in Lexington, and she recently compiled them into a book titled "A Pictorial History of Lexington". My mom has been looking, but so far, no luck. I remain hopeful. In the Kelly history are several photographs of family members, but none of the Kelly houses or commercial buildings. (The photos aren't of good enough quality to repost here, unfortunately.)
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Katheryn Renee Johnson Scott who diligently compiled her family's history and then was kind enough to place a copy of her book in the Lexington library for other historians to use as a reference. Ms. Scott's book allowed me to weave the Kellys' history into the fabric of the history of my little hometown, and thus, into the history of my own house and family. I am honored to live in the house her ancestors built and took such good care of for 60 years, and I hope James and Maria would be pleased and proud of what I'm doing to put the house back to the way it looked when they lived here.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
So here it is, my first-ever list of things I want to accomplish by year's end. This year's end.
1. Finish painting the exterior of the house. This is a priority--right now the house looks terrible. If it was a car it'd be a 1977 Monte Carlo with a white body, yellow doors, and one green fender.
2. Re-roof the carport. This is a high priority, too. The existing roof was in bad shape when I bought the house in November of 2006; now it has gaping holes and I'm finding pieces of asphalt shingles all over the alley after windy days.
3. Tear up the remaining carpet in the house. This is almost too easy, since only two rooms (the second parlor and the master bath) still have carpet.
4. Scrape off the rest of the painted-over wallpaper. Big swaths of it still cover the walls of the first parlor/living room and the entryway. I started this almost a year ago and it's high time I finished it.
5. Put new flooring in the master bath. I already bought it; I should go ahead and put it down.
6. Paper the dining room. You saw this one coming, right?
7. Do something about the front porch. Whether it's just a rehab of the porch or its demolition, the existing porch sticks out like a sore thumb now that the shingles are gone.
8. Tear down the backyard metal shed. This is a necessary evil; I can't get to the back wall of the house to finish the shingle-ripping without tearing down the shed. It's butt-ugly, too big, and the roof leaks. It must go.
And, and, and....I could easily double this list: new wiring, some sort of HVAC for the back porch and back bath, a new shower in the back bath, new kitchen countertops, a new front storm door, restoring the coal-burning fireplaces to working order, a new sidewalk and patio in the back yard, refinish the hardwood floors, replace the horrid vanities in both bathrooms, a new fence around the backyard....
I'll try not to let all that other stuff distract me from finishing what's on my list. If I can do that, it really will be "a freakin' feat!"
Thursday, January 22, 2009
My house has a somewhat odd layout in that there are no hallways, so each room opens into its adjoining rooms. Below is a little floor-plan (not even close to scale) I drew so you'd understand what I mean. (Those little hash marks that look like the number 11 are doorways.) The dining room is about 15½' by 15½' with 11' ceilings. Yes, eleven-foot ceilings--I love them! Each of the walls that make up that big bump in the dining room (lower edge of drawing) are exactly 6' wide with a large window centered in each wall. That makes the west wall of that room mostly windows, so the dining room is nicely lit without being too bright. As far as artificial lighting, there's a chandelier in the center of the room and two buffet lamps on (what else?) a buffet table that's along the south wall. So that gives you an idea of the scale and lighting of the room. So far, there's no artwork on the walls and the only color in the room is the cranberry shades on those buffet lamps. My mom upholstered the seats of the dining room chairs several years ago in a tan damask that would go with just about anything. (Those chairs, by the way, belonged to my great-grandmother and date to the early 1900s.) As you can see, the dining room opens into the living room/first parlor, the second parlor and the kitchen. The kitchen door is usually closed, but the walls in there are Ralph Lauren Goldfinch (a tan-gold). The living room walls will be repainted eventually, so that's not an issue, and the walls in the second parlor are a pale pink at the moment, but will be repainted in Ralph Lauren Composed (a medium tan) or something close to that.
Now for the scale of the wallpaper, and a little more information about the colors and such. When I wrote the other post, I hadn't received my wallpaper samples yet. I'd planned to take a photo of the samples hanging on my wall with a lamp or something next to them as a size reference for the patterns. Had I gotten decent-sized samples of the wallpaper, I would've done just that. But...each one of these samples is about 8" by 10". Very disappointing. I know times are tough, but seriously, wallpaper manufacturers need to send out sample sizes large enough to show the entire repeat! I'll do the best I can to explain the scale of the paper. The pagodas in the first wallpaper are about 9", and the pattern has a 13½" repeat. The background of that paper is actually a soft tan, not pink, and there's a lot of tan & brown shades in the paper. It has a nice finish to the paper too, about like eggshell paint. The paper is not pre-pasted, though, and I've never hung that kind of paper so it might be a big pain in the hiney. On the second one, the colors are pretty true (at least on my monitor) to the actual paper, but the leopard or whatever it is inside that octagon frame has a fiendish look on his face. He's so small though that I think I could convince myself it's an example of Victorian whimsy. Anyway, the cat-in-a-frame is just under 4" and the pattern has a repeat of 13½". I love the peacocks in that one. The paper has a linen-weave finish to it. And the last one, which I initially liked the least, I like much better now that I've seen the sample. The background is actually a very dark green, not black as I'd originally thought, and the colors are much softer than they look on a computer screen. It looks like a watercolor painting. The tree in that one is about 7" tall with a 24" pattern repeat. It has peacocks, too. The paper has a smooth finish very similar to the first one, but with a tad bit more sheen.
Now that you have more information, is your choice: a) the pink & tan paper; b) the fiendish cat; or c) the dark green paper?
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
But first, a reminder of why I'm writing about the Kelly family: In 1887, James C. Kelly and his wife Maria L. Kelly bought the land my house sits on from Mary Withers. Shortly after that, the Kellys built this house. Some member of the Kelly family would live in this house for almost 60 years, until the house left the family's possession in 1944. Half the "lifetime" of the house, that. Let's get to know them.
James Crawford Kelly was born August 4, 1830 in Madison County, Alabama. In 1851 he married Maria Louise Duncan in Cooper County, Missouri. (Cooper County is two counties southeast of Lafayette County, where I live, and where the Kellys ended up. Boonville is the county seat of Cooper County.) In the early years of his marriage, Mr. Kelly made his living farming, as did his brothers, but in the mid-1850s he decided to try his luck in the California gold fields. His grand-daughter Louise Kelly Salyer wrote about that in the family history:
"They got in a covered wagon and went to find gold in California,
about the time of the Gold Rush. On the plains, the horse got frightened,
ran away and turned over the wagon, throwing Grandma into the side of the road
and breaking her hip. The bone was protruding but Grandpa made a splint
and set it the best he could. Grandma Kelly always walked with a cane and
had a limp. Grandpa discovered a gold nugget (about the size of a child's
fist) when he went to California with Grandma searching for gold. He sold
the nugget and invested heavily in stock and horses."
Can you imagine? Maria Kelly must have had some grit to bear having her leg set like that! They returned to Missouri and had six children--Theodore Alonzo, Catherine, Alice, Lillie, Florence (who died an infant) and Hiram--before moving to Lafayette County, Missouri in 1865. Here the Kellys bought the Lightner farm three miles south of Lexington, where they raised cattle and horses and four more children--Menona, Leonard, Aubrey, and Marion--and Mr. Kelly established himself as a prominent cattle man and horse breeder. The Lightner farm is described in an 1870 Lafayette County history as being "one of the best improved farms in Lafayette County", but I could not locate it on a plat map to see if the farmhouse might be still standing. I tend to think that it isn't, since I'm a lifelong Lafayette County resident and have never heard of it.
The grand-daughter's statement that James Kelly "invested heavily in stock and horses" is something of an understatement: Mr. Kelly raised cattle and horses on his farm, owned a livery stable, ran a grocery store with at least one of his brothers, and operated a slaughterhouse. He seemed to have a corner on the beef market in the Lexington area, as he raised cattle, processed them in his slaughterhouse (no longer standing) at the bottom of Irish Town Hill in Lexington (this street is now called Highland Avenue and is part of the Highland Avenue Historic District) and sold the meat to the area coal mines and Wentworth Male Academy. (Wentworth Male Academy was founded in 1880 as a boys' school, later became Wentworth Military Academy, and is still in operation today, making it the oldest military school west of the Mississippi. The Wentworth campus is also a National Register Historic District.) The livery stable was at 9th and South and was burned by arsonists and rebuilt, then burned down again. The second time it was burned, Mr. Kelly did not rebuild. When Wentworth acquired stables, Mr. Kelly sold them their horses. The Kelly family history states that the "Kelly brothers" attended Wentworth, which must be a reference to the sons of James and Maria Kelly, as James Kelly and his brothers grew up in Alabama, and before Wentworth existed. Kelly Brothers Market & Grocery Store stood at the corner of 19th and Franklin. There is a store building dating from that time period at 18th and Franklin, and I was hoping to locate some photos of the store to see if perhaps the location in the family history is a block off and the existing building is in fact the Kellys' store. So far, no luck. Besides being a successful businessman, Mr. Kelly was also a regular churchgoer. He and his wife were members of the First Christian Church for more than 70 years. They first attended church in Lexington at the corner of 12th and South Streets, just a few blocks from my (our) house. Although a historic church building stands there, it's not the same building where the Kellys attended church. In 1870, the "new" Christian Church was constructed in the 1500 block of South Street on land donated by Mr. Kelly, who was a deacon of the church for many years. That church is just a stone's throw from what I recently dubbed The Kelly House. (I planned to take a photo of the church for this post, but since the high temperature today never left the single digits, it was a bit chilly for a stroll down the block. I'll get one next week when we have 60ish weather.)
Whew! That's a lot of history, there--and that's just the first part of the story. I'll save the rest for next time, and I promise it won't be a week before I share it!
NOTE: This post sat in draft form, hidden in my laptop, for days and days. Tonight when I read Christine's comment ("Where oh where has my little Jayne gone? Oh where oh where could she be?") I realized I'd better tidy it up and send it out into the world! A lot of information; a lot of tidying up.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
But first, a disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with "Better Homes & Gardens" magazine or the BHG.com website and thusly, will not benefit in any way from what I am about to share with you.
In the weekly BHG email was a little blurb about Cozi, an online calendar. Meh, big deal. I have a wall calendar, a pocket calendar, and a cell phone calendar. And then I read these words: "I can call from the grocery store and get the shopping list I forgot". Astounding! Here's how it works: you set up a free--FREE!--Cozi account and type in a shopping list. An organized person would print it out right there and take it with her to the store. But I, with the attention span of a gnat, drive 9 miles to Wal-Mart and then realize that the slip of paper in my coat pocket is a newspaper clipping of the latest "Get Fuzzy" comic strip. Now--this is so cool--I can send a text message to Cozi reading "shopping" and in just a few seconds get a text message back with my entire shopping list. I tried it out here at work. Less than 15 seconds later the phone buzzed and there in my hot little hand was the shopping list I'd written online an hour earlier. To borrow a line from the Guinness folks: "Brilliant!" However (and you just knew there'd be one of those) only the newest list written can be sent by text, although Cozi allows separate lists for grocery, wholesale, and "other".
Of course, Cozi also has a calendar that can be viewed by the week or by the month. Entering information on it is very simple. I typed in "Carda's b'day party 7 pm Saturday", hit enter, and on the box for January 10th appeared that happy event. Each family member's appointments and such appear next to a color-coded dot so you can see at a glance what everyone's doing for the day or week. Send a text reading "calendar" to Cozi and get back a text with the events of the day. (This feature apparently works only for the current day, and I do wonder how the color-coded dots would appear in a text message.) There's also a downloadable Collage Screensaver that pulls photos from your My Pictures and Shared Pictures folders to make a collage with the Cozi calendar in the corner. Another feature is the Family Journal, where users can click a "jot down the moment" button and write a few lines or post a photo. The Journal is a beta (test) version and for now only family members can view it, which in my opinion somewhat limits its usefulness.
Cozi does seem to be geared towards families with children. The word "family" is everywhere, as you may have noticed. At first, I thought the definition of "family" could be tweaked a bit and Cozi could be used by, say, a group of people working on a project together. I suppose it could be; however, only two users can enter and edit information on it, although anyone with the username and password is able to view it.
I'll use Cozi mostly for the shopping list feature, which will keep me from wandering the aisles at Wal-Mart or Lowe's trying to jog my memory as to what the heck I came in there for. If the folks at Cozi ask for user feedback, I'd suggest adding more than two users, making the Journal viewable by others, having texts for "weekly calendar" so that more than just the current day can be texted to users, and adding texts for the various lists so that more than just the newest list can be sent by text. If you try it, let me know what you think.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
What breed are you? Miss Anna at the shelter told my Forever Momma that I am a purebred Pomeranian, but I don't have any papers to prove it. I had three homes before my Forever Momma fell in love with me on Petfinder. Just take my word for it, and pay no nevermind to the lady down the street who says I am part Chihuahua.
How old are you? I am 3 or 4, Dr. Jenn says. She is the best vet in the whole world because she saved a little teeny bit of my eyesight when Dylan's Doberman bit me in the head. I wish he had bitten me in the eye that was already blind, but he got the other one and now they both don't work. Ivan said he was very sorry. I don't play rough with him no more!
What is your full name? My whole name is Audie Murphy. Dylan said I needed a very brave name because I'd been through so much. Momma calls me Audie unless I'm messing around outside when it's cold, and then she uses both my names.
Do you have any nicknames? Momma calls me Punkie lots of times. When she comes home in the morning she hugs me and calls me her Pommie Boy and kisses me, but I don't have time for that. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know!
Where do you sleep? I had a bed, but I chewed it up. Now I sleep on a folded-up towel right by Momma's bed. Sometimes if I give Momma my Pitiful Face (that's what I'm doin in the photo) she picks me up and lets me sleep on the bed. I don't like it when the kitten chews on my ears, though...
What is your favorite thing to do? Chew! I love to chew on things! My favorite toy is a stuffed elephant that Momma has to sew back together sometimes. I gnaw on my chewies, and the laundry, and the handle to my brush, and the towels hanging in the bathroom, and I ate the back off of Momma's work boots once. She was not happy.
What is something interesting/unusual about you? I have the sidewalk memorized from my house to Mr. Bruce & Mr. Carl's house--that's four houses away! It goes concrete, step down, street, step up, bricks. When it goes back to concrete past Mr. Bruce's house I turn around. My little brain can only hold so much information, after all.
Who is your best friend? My Forever Momma. She teaches me things, she won't let Big Cat hit me, and she is my Seeing Eye Person. How many dogs have one of those?!
Did you go to obedience school? I don't know that word. Obedience?? What does that mean?
Can you do any tricks? I can scream like I'm being killed, which makes Momma run to wherever I am to make sure I'm okay. Hee hee. She even wrote about it the first time I did it. Now she says it's "wearing thin", whatever that means.
That's all I have to say about me. Thank you, Momma, for picking me instead of one of the kitties. Do you have a fur-baby who would like to blog? You can play, too! Oh, and Momma says she will tell you all about the Kellys on Wednesday, unless something exciting happens before then.
LATE EDIT: It's been pointed out to me that Audie's answer to the question about something interesting/unusual, in which he said he has the sidewalk memorized, might have left the impression that he walks to Carl and Bruce's house all by himself. He does not. I walk with him, and although I'd like to walk all the way around the block together, that's as far as he'll go. And only once.