Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Newby Farmhouse Restoration, Post-Tornado


In yesterday's blog post I told about the tornado that ransacked my great grandparent's farm in Spiceland, Indiana the night my mother, Janet Runyan, was born. Mom related the events to me many times, just as she had been told them by her mother and her grandparents, Charles and Ida (Trowbridge) Newby. The photos included in that post are the main witness to the extent of the damage inflicted on the house and it's surroundings.

Charles Lee Newby was a carpenter by trade so he took to making repairs right away. He also made a few improvements by enclosing the second story side balcony and enlarging the shed so he could park his car and buggy under roof.  He also had to build a brand new barn due to the complete destruction of the old one. Below are the photos of the finished work.

My great grandparents, grandparents, Aunt Lela, and great aunts and uncles on the front porch of the newly reconstructed farmhouse.
A more distant view including the enlarged shed/garage. My great grandfather Charles leaning on his car, and my grandfather Lawrence Runyan and his daughter, my aunt Lela standing in the doorway.
A front view of the shed/garage with the new barn behind it in the distance

In May of 1999 my mother and I made a week long trip to Kentucky and Indiana. Once in Indiana we went looking for her grandparent's home. We didn't have any trouble finding it and we both recognized it as soon as we saw it through the trees. I had seen the photos so often that I had no doubt, this was it. My mother insisted we drive up the lane to the house to meet the owners. I was mortified! I didn't like dropping in on strangers unannounced! But Mom insisted. As we drove up and got out of the car we were greeted by the owners of the home, and when they found out who my mother was they invited us on a tour of the house. They were as excited to meet us as we were to be there! This young couple, who had five children if I remember correctly, had not owned the house long and they were in the process of restoring it to it's original blueprint. They asked my mother question after question. She pointed here and there, remembering a closet, a table, a furnace. We went upstairs. Her grandparents bedroom was there, the room she was never allowed in as a child. Mom told me she remembered looking from the doorway and seeing the stand  where my great grandmother kept the big Bible where all the family names and events are recorded. The very same Bible which is now in my possession!

When we finally left the couple, we exchanged addresses and over the years they wrote to my mother with all the new details of family and house restoration. I sent them all the old photos of the house and in exchange they sent me a 2 inch stack of papers of all the legal transactions from the house and land, the earliest being a warranty deed dated January 2nd 1832, and noting that: "The west half of the northeast quarter of section 20, township 16, range 10 east, was entered April 14th, 1824 by Thomas Maudlin as noted on page 23 of the entry book of lands in Henry County, Indiana, and according to the original survey contains 80 acres".

The most obvious renovation to the house was the return of the second story balcony that my great grandfather closed in when he made the repairs after the tornado. The photos below are more recent photos and reflect how the house looks today.

About 2004, 80 years after the tornado
The second story balcony is back, and this time with a stairway all to itself!



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6 comments:

  1. I love this post, and all the photos. How wonderful that you were able to tour your the home and get all of the land transactions! A great story... thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks Karen. I wouldn't have been so nervy by myself. My mother was not going to be put off though and I am grateful she insisted on going up to the house and meeting the owners!

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  2. How fun that you were able to see the house all those years later. I've tried to contact the owners of the home my 2nd great grandfather built in 1873 (via e-mail) and they haven't responded - this post makes me think I should try again.

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    1. You definitely should try again Debi. Just make them understand how important it is to you!

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  3. What a great follow-up. I loved all the aspects of your story, and there has been a lot of love shown in and on the house. Thanks Lisa.

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    1. Thank you Barbara! I had fun writing this one!

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