The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports


January 26, 2013

On the Go: Old houses have history to share

My house lives and breathes history. 

Built in the 1850s, my house has witnessed the Civil War, both World Wars, and 9/11. 

A classic Victorian, my house has been home to many people over the years. I like to daydream about the people who lived here before me. I wonder how they dressed, where they played, how they celebrated life, what books were on their shelves, what food in their pantry, how they played in the yard, and if they made fires in the winter. 

Did a little girl learn to braid hair outside on the foyer steps? Did a young man hang his diploma on the parlor’s walls? Did a maid lay in bed at night worrying about her child? Did a big family eat dinner in the dining room every Sunday like mine does? My questions greatly outweigh my answers.   

One of my favorite oddities found in my home is a signature scratched into our kitchen window. “A. Newman, 1879” Who was A. and why did he or she sit in the kitchen writing his or her name on the window? 

My mom and I were recently reviewing the abstract and we found the name Martin Newman listed as an owner. We were able to find him in an 1870s census. He was married to Melissa with three boys.

 In 1879, the son Lorenzo would have been 28 years old, Arthur would have been 21, and Aden would have been 17. This find was very interesting except it failed to clarify A’s identity. Would it have been so hard for Arthur or Aden to add a middle initial?

In our basement. we have a large safe. It was caked with mud and dirt, partially from being more than a century old and partially from being submerged in the 2006 flood. I randomly got the urge one day to go down and look at it again. I brought bleach wipes and started wiping it down. 

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