Friday, August 31, 2007

A Mystery Solved!!

I posted about this a while back. We had no idea what it was used for, except a shed, but thought it had to have some other purpose. Well, after talking to the PO's family we solved the mystery. It was a smokehouse! She said they would smoke meat in there...sausage and things like that. This was a fully functioning farm so this isn't really a surprise. In fact I'm surprised we hadn't thought of that. Our house is on a highway and she said that people would stop every once in a while to tell them the building was on fire and they would explain that it was supposed to have smoke coming from it! Also found out the building is made of white poplar.

I also learned that the outhouse was located close to the far end of this building about where the clothesline is at. Just realized you can't see the clothesline because of the big tree in the me, its there. I've had people tell me that if you can locate and excavate the outhouse or "privy" that you can learn a lot about the the property all the way back to when the hole was fist dug. I'm sorry, but it was in use till the 50's so I don't see us digging it up any time soon. But it is nice to know where it was.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Returned the card to its family

I can't remember if I have posted about this before or not, but our house was an estate sale. The previous owners were Leo and Cecelia Yochum. We bought the house from their children. One of their daughters and her husband lives 2 houses down from us and said if we ever have any questions, to ask and they would try to help. I took the playing card over there a couple of days ago (we thought it would be best to return it to the family...we figured it would mean more for them to have it than it would be for us to put it in a scrap book) and I had a great chat with them. I learned a lot about our house, and they are so nice. I told them we are restoring the dining room and found the card under the carpet and linoleum and they said it had to have been there for many years. The room was redone in the 60's. Her husband said that he remembers installing the drop ceiling and paneling and it was done to help with heating. They also said that the room had always been used as a living room, never a dining room, but it was meant to be a dining room. Before they renovated, the wall that is shared with the kitchen had cabinets that opened through on both sides (you could open the cabinets in both rooms and see through) They are going to try to find a picture of it so we might be able to replicate it again. I hope they can, or maybe we can figure it out when we remove the paneling from that wall. I would love to have that again. I learned a ton about our house, so much that I won't post it all at one time because it would be way too long. But it'll be coming. I also showed them the blog in case they are ever curious about something we're doing.

And a special note to the family...if you ever see any dates or anything that are wrong please feel free to leave a comment so I can correct it. Or you can comment on anything else. We are trying to keep things as acurate as possible, but mistakes do happen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

An interesting trip to the Zoo (long post, sorry no pics)

This is the first chance I've had to post since Friday. I actually learned some more things about our house over the weekend from someone who rented it before we bought it. The girl works with James and we saw them at the Zoo saturday night The Zoo is actually Kazoo's...a bar/club locally known as the zoo because people can get a little wild there...lots of fights, drunk people acting crazy, people can dance in a cage or a balcony and its always entertaining. Not really our thing though so we don't go there much. Anyway, we saw this girl there and while she didn't really want to talk about the time that she lived here, she did and we learned a lot.

Like my header says, we've had some strange things happen here. Starting the day we closed. I came in at night to start cleaning (it didn't need much, mainly dusting) and the house was cracking and popping and made some weird sounds. When James got off work he brought a friend over here and they asked how it's been going. I told them the house is settling and they both laughed! They both agreed the house is done settling and have no idea what I heard.

Next, we had lived here for a few weeks and James went to play paintball, leaving me here by myself. I was in bed and I heard a very distinct, deep manly voice say "there's some one at the door" I sat straight up in bed. Our dog was going nuts running from the bedroom to the front door (which we don't use) I looked at him and sayed "is there some one there Cledus" he yipped and took off for the soor again. I got one there! No one in the drive, outside at a neighbors and no cars on the road.

Then James and I were asleep in bed and I heard a woman talking. James rolled over and told me to shut up. I said you heard that? he said yeah, now stop talking and go back to sleep. I wasn't talking, there was no one else here and the t.v. and radios were all off.

The stereo in the dining room has come on all by its self on stations that we don't listen to.

The other night when I started tearing up the carpet I wanted to listen to 89.1 on the radio. It wouldn't come in so I was listening to 91.1 I had to keep unpluging the radio and moving it to move the carpet. Every single time I turned it back on it was on 89.1! I set it back to 91.1, unplug, move, plug it back in, and its on 89.1 again!

Well, the girl that used to live here sayed that they heard things too. The t.v. and radio would turn off and on by themselves, and she saw Mrs. Yochum when she was doing laundry one day! She said they used the dining room as a living room. It has a window that looks out at the dryer. She said she was taking clothes out of the dryer and looked up at that window and saw a little old lady with white hair sitting in a chair! Luckily we haven't had anything like that happen...that would freak me out!

Now on to the house stuff. I asked her if some one had kicked a door in. She started laughing and sayed "yeah, the back door, did they replace it?" I said "no, the dining room" she said "uh, no the dining room door was fine...wait, what does the door look like?" I told her its white on one side and stained on the other, she started laughing again and said that they swithched the doors. The dining room and the back door have been switched, but at least they left us with all the original doors. She said that her brother and her both kicked the door...and then her new boyfriend said he did too!

We also have big faded squares in the center of every room. We thought from area rugs, and never mentioned it to her. She brought it up though. She said that when they moved in there were big squares of linoleum blocks in every room. She said they were beautiful, perfect squares complete with padding underneath! She told us she came home from work one day and her boyfriend had ripped evry one up, but the front bedroom! I can't belive that! She told us she cried for 2 days because they were either original to the house, or had been there for many, many years because they were real linoleum like they don't make any more. I wanted to cry when she told us! Then it sank in that she said it was still in the front bedroom, I told her that its not there any more. Apparently the Yochum family decided to rip it up too to make the house look whole. She about cried. I gotta find out if she has any pictures of it.

We also got explanations for the cracked formica on the bathroom walls ("using the bathroom and a fist came flying above my head") the Southern Comfort bottles ("he drank a lot") and the blood on the carpet (no explanation...knew about it, but didn't want to talk about it) She also said she had a mold problem and used bleach on the plaster on a daily basis...I don't know much about plaster but I think it doesn't mix well with bleach so we may have more problems down the road. She also told us her rent was only $400 a month...If you figure it up we over payed but I'm ok with that. It appraised for way more than what we paid.

Thats all I got for now...going to go clean out the shed to see if I can find anything to put in the yard sale.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thank God the House Didn't Burn!!

Is this that remodeling curse? You try to fix one thing and the whole room goes to hell? I think that's what happened here. All we wanted to do was refinish the floor and wait on everything else for a little bit...but nothing is really that easy is it?

I wanted to do was take a pic of the plaster and the outlet. I got down on the floor and noticed water. A lot of it. (This is from after I pulled off the paneling and a ton of paint) This is the up close picture. The picture does not do it justice. There is water dripping from the A/C unit...and that made the paneling soft, the plaster gooey, the paint bubble, and a puddle on the floor.
And we are lucky...the water was dripping on this outlet. You can't really tell, but the plastic over the wires is wet, along with the wall all around it. I think I may have saved our house from burning down! I originally wanted to take a picture of this because we discovered that the wiring was ran after the carpet was laid (see the gap?). There was a "premium tackless" strip under the outlet that was actually nailed directly under it.

Now I am really p.o.'d because I had to peel the paint off the baseboard and window sill because it had water trapped under it and I'm freaked out about mold. And the paneling had to go too. So now I have this really bad spot in the dining room. We hadn't planned on doing any stripping or removing the paneling just yet, due to a lack of money. And the fact that while it's not our taste, it didn't look that bad. We may just temporarily fix it for now. After the water dries.

For the record...this a/c unit was installed properly and was working great until sometime tonight. It was all dry this afternoon. (I know it was because we were looking at the previous water damage and talking about how we think it was from a window unit, and it was dry at that time) I don't know what happened to it...I'll let my hubby figure that out when he gets home from work.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A little history about our house

I just realized that I have never really posted much about the history of our house. So here goes. The first owners were Joseph F. and Elizabeth Marter. Our house is shown on an 1880 plat map as a survey for J.F. Marter. All land at that time was either survey or donation. A member of the Marter family e-mailed me a picture of the house from about 1850. It looks nothing like the house does today. Well, a little maybe. The courthouse has a building permit on file from 1890. We believe this was when the house we currently live in was built. Joseph Marter passed away in 1936 and left the house to his wife. She then moved into Vincennes and kept the house (empty as far as any one seems to know) until 1941. It was then sold to Leo and Cecelia Yochum. Leo passed away in 1993 and Cecelia remained in this house. She was very well know for playing cards and was a devout Catholic. She left the property to her children and they rented it out for a while before putting it on the market. We looked made the appointment to look at the house on 6/6/6, and actually looked at it on 6/7/6. (I refused to look at it on 6/6/6...I'm a little superstitious) We made our offer on June 7, 2006 and it was accepted a few days later. After finding a lot of problems that had to be fixed before closing, we were finally able to close October 13, 2006. Yes, that was Friday the 13th. An omen? We sure hope not. I'll post more about the previous owners as I find out things. Not much is known about the Marter family because they pretty much left this area after Elizabeth passed away. However, one of the Yochum children lives 2 houses down from us, so I should be able to find out plenty about them and anything that they did to the house while they had it.
I decided to post more about the dining room. Just a little heads up...a lot of this work won't be done for a while. I've seen a lot of people on here say they're on a "dime" budget, well were on a penny budget.
This is not the dining room. This is a corner in the living room. Every room has these spindles. Every single corner in every room has them. Except the dining room. In the PO's remudling they removed all of these from that room. I'm just glad they stopped there and didn't do the whole house.

This is one of 3 windows. Its the worst, by far. The paneling is buckling and it looks like there's water damage, but the plaster underneath (what I can see of it) appears to be in great shape. The previous owners chose to staple cardboard over plastic to insulate the windows. We ripped out the plastic to put the AC in. That little unit is all that we have for the entire house.
Does any one know what this is? I have no idea. It looks like it has a phone line running to it, but it doesn't look like any phone jack I've ever seen. We gotta find out what it is before removing it. And if it has a historical significance I don't want to remove it...although I would really just like to know what it is.

At some point the transom window and door were removed to the kitchen. And the tacky paneling was put up. And the drop ceiling with fluorescent lighting...very 70's vibe in here.
I feel sad about this. This is the only damaged door in the whole house. I guess one out of 10 isn't so bad. It looks like some one kicked through it. It was probably the same person that put the cracks in the formica walls in the bathroom, and the blood on the floor, and the Southern Comfort bottle in the back of the kitchen cabinet...I think its starting to come together. And I'm betting its from the short time period when this house was rented out, because the Yochums are so sweet I just don't see any one in that family doing any of that.
The plan is to remove the drop ceiling, paneling, and plastic on the windows. Strip all the paint off the woodwork, fix the damaged panel in the door, and I've already started on the carpet (see last post). If the plaster is in good shape we're going to keep it. If not, we're going to drywall. And reglaze the windows. The panes rattle like crazy so I think if we do this we might not need the plastic anymore. But like I said, we really don't have much of a budget so it's going to be a long work in progress. Unless we win the lottery. I just don't see that happening though!

Vacuum not working? Rip out the carpet!

OMG...what have I done?! OK so earlier tonight I vacuumed the dining room. Its the only room in our house that has carpet and we keep saying we're going to pull it out. Well the vacuum got really hot and wasn't sucking anything up so I checked it out and found enough fur to make an animal. That's nasty. Really, really nasty. I love our pets, but eeeewwwww! So I started tearing up the carpet. I called James first to make sure he wouldn't freak out about it. 2 hours later I'm now regretting it.
I found this under the nasty black stuff under the underpadding. Its the 9 of spades. Mrs. Yochum, the previous owner, loved cards. So much that its even mentioned in her obituary. I have had several people tell me that they played cards with her here. This is the only thing we have found in the house so far that has belonged to the Yochums. I think its kinda cool.
This was the start of the destruction of the carpet. That is the carpet, Mohawk underpadding, some nasty black stuff (whats there is all that I've found of it) and the bare floor. It looks like they stripped the floor before putting carpet over it. And if you look close you can see the floor is laid a different direction than the next room. The dining room and kitchen are laid this way and the other rooms are the other direction. I have no idea why.
See the beautiful unfinished hardwood? You gotta look around the adorable little dog. I did a little Redneck DIY...the tools I used were a Craftsman grill scraper, a pair of side cuts, hammer, carpet knife, and a Tupperware canister to hold the nails and staples. Not ideal, but got got it done. Now I have to wait for James to get home because I can't move any of the furniture. Not taking any chance of re-injuring myself. Oh...the cute little dog is our Shih-Tzu Socks. He was a wedding gift from a friend.
That's all I got for now...more to come though. By the way, does any one know what kind of wood that is? I have no idea. But I like that its already sanded...saves us a lot of money!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yard sale prep sucks

Nothing exciting to post about today. I realized that summer is almost over and I still don't have everything ready for our yard sale so today I started going though piles of clothes to get rid of. And realized I still have things from middle school in my closet. That was 10 years ago! I am sticking to the rule that if I haven't worn it in 2 years its gotta go...and I'm really struggling with it. Its a lot harder than it sounds. I have an unusual attachment to my clothes. There are a few things that I refuse to part with though...formal dresses, high school t-shirts (I'm going to have a quilt made out of them). There's a lot of other things too...books, lights, Foreman grills, crockpots, coats, entertainment center, 2 computer desks, movies, CD's, a paintball gun, wedding decorations, and if we get really lucky we'll find a buyer for our boat and a 69 Chevy Cheyenne. There's a lot more stuff, but its kind of a waste of time to list everything. Basically this sale is a result of our getting married. When I got my first place I had a lot of things given to me, which was great. Then me and James moved in together (luckily he had never lived on his own so he didn't have much) and we started upgrading some things. Then we got married and ended up with even more better things. But we really don't need 3 computer desks, 5 forman grills, 5 crockpots, and 3 sets of silverware. Its a little excessive. Well, I gotta get back to this junk or it'll never get done. It's going to be a huge sale, so if you're in the area come and check it out (its not going to be for a little while though). I think my mother in law is also putting some things in there and some other people want to put some things in, so it may end up being bigger!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ding dong...the door bell's broken

I have absolutely no idea how to make this thing work. In an attempt to do something productive today I tried to work on the door bell. This is a real old school doorbell and the only one I have ever seen up close. I have no idea when these were common, but I'm pretty sure its been there for a long time. Its in the doorframe in our living room. I unscrewed it, but can't get the cover off. I don't want to hurt the wood or the bell, so I have no idea what to do. I don't know why, but it's driving me crazy that it doesn't work! We don't even use that door because of this
Those are skeleton keys. Which puts this door out of commision, but is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I have never been in a house that has least a house that still had the keys. I haven't seen a mention about it in any other blog either.
Oh...the wood was stained and beautiful when we bought the house. Those scratch marks are courtesy of our black lab Cledus trying to see whats going on when any one pulls in our driveway. Our floors and one window also look like this now :(
Once I get something figured out about this I'll share

Thursday, August 9, 2007

It too hot!!

The temp here in Vincennes reached 101 today. According to the news the real feel was 120...and we were the hottest place in the tri-state area! Needless to say...there was no work done today. I did start the bathroom yesterday though.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I finally got pics of the house!

This is the front of the house from the highway. Isn't it cute? Oh, I got the bistro set on the porch for $10 at a yard sale last year! And the house doesn't lean...I'm just not very good with a camera.
Another view...excuse the weeds, the weed eater is "sick"
This is the other side. That door goes into the laundry room and is also the entrance we use. The front doors are not in use due to an issue with the skeleton key. As in we're afraid to carry it. And that is another load of rock for the driveway, even though it's slowly spreading to the yard...

The tool shed

We're not quite sure what this little building is. We call it the tool shed, but it looks like it was previously used as a tool/garden/storage shed by the PO's and before that we don't know.

It was not listed with the house because its not up to code on anything and its kinda falling apart.
First thing...we inherited all this crap with the sale. None of its ours.

This is the main room. Its about 7'x15' . There is a cabinet and a primitive looking wooden counter. There is no insulation and you can see through the walls in some places. But its amazingly sturdy and doen't leak.

The floor looks like morter, which I think is a little odd
This is a close up of the cabinet. You can't tell by the pictures, but it has square nails all over it. Everywhere...not just where they need to be. Like some one had a bunch left over and said "what the heck" and went crazy with the hammer.

This is the (disconected)power. This is in the first room thats about 7'x7'. I think this is knob and tube wiring. The wiring starts outside (currently laying on the ground) and runs the length of the building and ends with an outlet, just above the counter, that looks like the oldest version of a powerstrip that I've ever seen.

Any input on what this shed may have been would be great. I think it may have been something like a summer kitchen that was converted to a workshop. We're going to use it as my "workshop" for little projects (after we run some new wiring), but I'm just really curious about what it really is supposed to be. There are square nails through the whole thing, all the boards are tounge and groove, and I found one peg outside on a corner. I thought it was a knot in the wood, but I chipped away the paint and it is perfectly circular and is right where the framing lines up for the corner. I have never seen anything like that before!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Floor Plan

This is the basic floor plan of our house.

Thick black lines are the house
Thin black lines are the porch and a porch that was turned into rooms
The rectangle in the laundry room is the basement door
Blue lines are windows (Sorry, I'm not very good with paintbrush and thats the only way I have to draw on here)

There are a lot of doors and a lot of windows. In the picture from 1800's the house appears to be L shaped, then it became cross shaped, and now its almost a rectangle

BTW, this is not a very accurate drawing. All the main rooms are 15' by 14', except the kitchen is 14'x13', but I think I got pretty close (except the front bedroom, I kinda butchered it)

This is our house!

The person I contacted on is a descendent! Joseph Marter, who built our house, is her great grandfather. And she sent me this picture! This is our house in the 1800's! I can't believe this! Thats Joseph and Elizabeth Marter, some of their children, and some livestock.
And...thats our kitchen and dining room! How great is that?!
Yesterday we knew really nothing about our we know a little bit more, and have a picture of it and the family that built it!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Moving the laundry room

In my to-do list I said we want to move the laundry room to the basement. I think we scratched that plan last night due to many, many reasons. Its a great idea, but just not going to work. Mainly because I can't lift the trapdoor because its really, really heavy. That sucks. I currently hate that room, its a disaster...maybe if we gut it it'll be a little better. When I get the pics up I will show ya'll what I'm talking about! BTW...the plan is to post pics by next week. I'm off 3 days so I should be able to get it done then. Somehow. Maybe I'll get lucky and find the stupid memory card reader so I don't have to buy anything. We've lived here since October and still have not unpacked everything!

A little update on the history

I think I've found a descendant of the family that built our house! I'm so excited about this! I found them on and emailed them today. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll be able to help me out. If not then I'm back where I started...which is nowhere, for lack of more colorful words :) And thank you again to the people over at for the advice on how to date foundations. I'm going to start working on that next week when I'm off work.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Renovation To-Do List

Here is a list of all the things I want to do to our house. Pending Knox County's decision on the tracks (see rant...I really don't want to explain again or I might cry) it is my top 20:

1. Pull carpet out of bathroom Done

2. Renovate formica walls for drywall, tile, trade stand up shower for tub, etc.

3. Renovate kitchen, well kinda... I really don't want to gut it. Tear out linoleum, refinish floor, find a way to make the stove fit that not in front of a floor to ceiling window, and refinish cabinets...may have to be gutted after all

4.Renovate dining room...remove drop ceiling, cheap paneling, carpet, redo shotty electric, remove florescent light.

5. Redo plaster support wall in living room...plaster is in such bad shape I accidently hit it with my elbow and it crumbled, so now there's a small hole

6. Find replacment hardware for transom window in door to 2nd bedroom

7. Find the original attic opening...we think its in the dining room ceiling Done...Discovered there is no other opening, just the small square that doesn't fit the style of our house

8. Replace storm doors in front

9. Fix the original door push a button and it actually rings a bell on the other side how cool is that!

10. Refinish all floors

11. Move washer and dryer to basement Decided against because I can't open the trap door

12. Renovate the backporch which is now a laundry room and our main entry to the house, and is in such bad shape you could see outside in a couple of places (fixed that with a can of spray foam)

13. Fix morter in the brick foundation

14. Figure out why the front bedroom is so drafty...and fix it

15. Repair the back side of the barn, and the sides

16. Level the backyard where laterals were replaced (got first load of dirt) Added 3 more loads

17. Regravel the driveway (got a load of rock already)

19. Build an armoir style closet in 2nd bedroom that matches the one in Master bedroom

20. LEARN TO STOP PROCRASTINATING!!! My husband just call it being lazy!

By the way, I'm still working on pics...I haven't been able to find my memory card reader since I moved here and I need to get a new card so I don't download all 200 pics I have on my camera everytime I add a new pic. About ready to steal DH camera because our computer will read his card but not mine (damn smart media) and he hardly ever takes any pictures.

Vincennes Railroad Project...ranting

I received a card in the mail today from the T.R.A.I.N. Committee. This is the project that might take our home away from us :( and it pisses me off. I'm ranting cause I'm upset, so sorry if its a litle hard to follow. Vincennes is known for its train problem. Its ridiculous the amount of trains and tracks that run through the city. This problem can very easily be fixed by putting 2 overpasses up in town. One on Hart St and one on 6th st, these are the 2 busiest streets in town. When there is a train there is no way to get through town with out going way out of your way to use highway 41. That would be too easy though, the county solution is to move the tracks out of town. Taking away farm land and hundreds of homes. This is insane. Our home is in one of the proposed corridors. We bought our house in October 2006. We received the first notice of this in January 2007. This notice was telling us to expect a servey request in the mail sometime in the next 2 years and that we will receive a new notice if our house is chosen...WTF? They also said at a recent meeting that everyone needs to calm down because they will give us a very adequate 90 days to relocate. Once again...WTF? It took us 4 months to close on this house, not to mention the year that it took us to find it and the 2 months it took to pack and move. Thats a bit more than 90 days. Plus there will be hundreds or families all looking for housing at the same time.

If you'd like to check this out the website for this disaster is

The address that shows our house is:

We are in the yellow corridor. On state road 61. From what people are saying they have eliminated the purple corridor because it would be too close to SK School. And I believe the green (that may not be the right color) has been eliminated because they would have to pay out billions of dollars to relocate everyone because most of the homes in that area are new construction and the values are from approx. $500,000 and up to millions (the rich folk

I will try to post more on this as I find out about it, but they are only telling us what they want, when they want to. Its been about 6 months from the last notice to this one.