I'm pretty sure I can speak for all of us when I say that old man winter can officially take a hike! And because this old buzzard is sticking around for a while, I have no current renovation updates until the frozen tundra thaws. I do, however, have a little insight into the history of The Manor that I think is way more interesting than rotton soffits and the amazing places foliage can grow. This post is dedicated to the man who built the home & lived in it for 39 years with his family, Dr. T.S. Watson.
I knew it was going to be difficult to dig up the original history of a home that's 117 years old and a man who's been dead for 78 years, but I've had some luck and a very resourceful lady on my side. Thanks to a Bevier resident (and historical guru) named Ruth Masten, I've had some pretty important documents sent my way. The first thing she surprised me with was an original picture of the home.
Now whether you're amazed or creeped out, it's okay. I get both reactions when I show people this picture. :)
I've always known that a doctor lived in the house because on the front porch there is a concrete plaque that reads "T.S. Watson, M.D.".
I really didn't know anything about T.S. until Ruth surprised me again with another useful piece of information. Here is the article that was written about him when he passed away.
This little article is priceless to me. It's a window into the past and into the life of a man who was obviously well loved and respected in the community. A name is just a name but reading this article gave life to T.S. and it was the first time he became "real" to me. A little too real after reading that he "fell over and expired in the house working on a screen door". Whaaaaat?!
When we started digging into the trash in the house, I wondered if I would ever find anything from when Dr. Watson lived there. We found tons of stuff from the boarding house (which is a mystery all in itself). There were dishes and pans still in the cabinet and clothes/shoes still in the closet.
They literally just left everything. I've also heard that the house was full of beautiful antiques but those, unfortunately, are long gone.
I'm not sure why the house was left that way. After lots of digging I would occasionally find something interesting like slides or hand written letters and old recipes. I found vintage cards, pictures and sometimes a few small antiques. I would also find things nightmares are made of...like this!
But sometimes I'd get lucky...and believe me...when you're wading through trash, dirt and racoon crap it's nice to reveal something as beautiful as Marilyn. :)
Or a picture of your grandma! That's her on the left...I had no idea she even worked there.
But as far as anything from T.S....nothing. I thought maybe when we start renovating the inside of the house I'll find a picture or medical instrument hidden behind a wall or something. I mean, he hasn't been there in 78 years so the chances of anything left behind from him is unlikely, but ya never know.
...and as luck would have it, I found something!
While I was in the attic one day I flipped over a laundry basket & there it was, Dr. Watson's medical bag!
I couldn't believe it. I just stared at it for a second and said "you've got to be kidding me!". Then I snatched it up & came yelling out of the house with it, scaring the crap out of Jeremy. When you come barreling out of this house screaming, it means one of two things; A. You found something amazing or B. You found something horrendous. And believe me when I say I've found plenty of B!
It might be a little silly to get so excited about an old leather bag but after knowing the history of the Dr. & reading the article...knowing that he rode on horseback to visit patients in all hours of the night & this was the bag that he carried was pretty exciting to me.
I really haven't even scratched the surface on cleaning out the attic so I can't wait to see what other things will be revealed.
Now here's the flipside to this story. Last fall a neighbor came over to visit with us & said "You know, there are bullet holes on the front of this house". He then walked over & pointed out two different grooves in the brick.
What the? Bullet holes? I have no idea why those would be there and probably never will but I do have a theory! Dr. Watson not only had a practice but he also owned a drugstore in Bevier and was part owner of a coal mine that his very wealthy father, W.S. Watson owned named "Watson & Sons Coal Mine". In the article above it says that Dr. Watson was a friend and advisor during the strikes and that "the working men and operators were strongly influenced by his ideas of right & justice". I have a feeling that maybe not everyone felt that way...hence, the bullet holes. We'll probably never know for sure but it is fun to speculate.
And speaking of holes in our house...remember the hole left by the amazing house tree? Tadaaaaaaa!
Was soooooo glad to see this fixed! We're planning to get a door & window installed soon so we can take down this BEAUTIFUL mustard gold plastic that I've grown so fond of! More to come later...
PS-I wanted to thank each and every one of you that shared this blog, commented on it or let me know that they were reading it & rooting us on. I honestly thought that this would be something that would just be documentation for me personally but I was so surprised to see that many people were interested in the project and keeping up with it. Thanks a million, it means a lot! :)