Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Our Little House

It never occurred to me until recently that a house can have a genealogy, too.

My husband and I have lived in the same house for over twenty years, a modest cottage built in the late 1920s on an acre of land, half of which is undeveloped pasture (the rest we have to mow).  We live on Fidalgo Island, gateway to the San Juan Islands, and our property is practically adjacent to several hundred acres of community-owned forest lands.  We can step out our front door and within minutes have access to miles and miles of beautiful trails.  We are a ten-minute hike from  beautiful, pristine Heart Lake.

Recently, we were talking with a contractor about a home-improvement project, and during the conversation he mentioned that he thought his great grandparents had lived in our house at one time. He said he couldn't be sure, because he only visited once and was very young at the time, and that their last name was Dupree.

Our next door neighbor--who is in her 70s and a long-time resident--was also standing by during this conversation. When the contractor mentioned the name, she said that yes, the Duprees had lived in our house in the 1960s, and that she had bought a horse from them.  She said that the Duprees had told her that the house next door would be going up for sale, and subsequently our neighbor bought that house.

This came as a total surprise to us. We knew that our house had been owner built --by an Italian family, we had been told --but we thought the previous owners,  Dave & Phyllis Fox, were the only other residents.

All of this started me thinking about the Italian family who had originally built our house.  I had always wanted to know who they were.

Somehow, after all these years, it had never even occurred to me to check the 1930 census!  It was likely  they would still be living in this house in 1930 if they had built it in 1927, as we had been told.

I ran a search in the 1930 census for all individuals living in our little town who had been born in Italy.  There weren't that many. And finally, I found them:

Jack FERI age 40 born Italy
Florence FERI age 55 born WA; mother born Alaska
Roscoe W  FERI age 19
Marguerite F  FERI age 13

The two children apparently were the wife's from a previous marriage, and the census record indicates that the wife and two children were Native American Indian.

Their residence was located on what was then called "Lake Forest Drive" (doesn't exist anymore; now called Heart Lake Road),  with 43rd St as a cross street.

While I have not been able to locate a 1930's map of our area, I am certain this is the correct family.  Our nearest cross street is 41st St, to the north of us, and the street numbers increase heading our direction, to the south.  43rd St no longer exists, but if it did, it would be on the other side of our next door neighbor's property!

Someday, I hope to find out more about what happened to the Feri family, and how long they lived in what is now our little house.

Have a great day!



Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

That's something to think about! I look forward to hearing more about your findings. Also, it sounds like you must live in a BEAUTIFUL place! Sounds a bit like paradise!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

How fun! You could go to the registry of deeds, or write them, and find the whole genealogy of your house. It would be a lot of work, but then you could hang in on the wall and it would be a permananent part of the dwelling for future owners. Makes me want to do the same!

Betty said...

Thanks Renate! I found more interesting stuff on the FERI family this afternoon and will post it tomorrow. Paradise? I don't know about that, LoL! Our house is nothing fancy, but it is our home sweet home! ;-) Betty

Barbara Poole said...

Betty, Your story is interesting, and I'm glad you shared some information about your town as well. Looking forward to an update on the Feri family...I think they would be pleased that you love the house that Mr. Feri built.