Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Carlisle Family Home

The home that my mother grew up in was first owned by her great-grandfather, Daniel Carlisle and his second wife Hannah (Glover) Carlisle. According to family history, the family moved to Buchanan, MI sometime after 1857 where they had a house on Second St (now Dewey Ave). That house burned down with a part of the town and they moved to the house on Main St in 1863. Family history isn't clear as to whether Daniel and his sons built the house or if they purchased an existing home. The plot map here, from 1873, shows that at least one of the rear additions had been added. They had a large, triangular lot at the north edge of town. The house remained in the family for over 120 years.

Of Daniel's eight children, only his son (Issac) Ashley remained in Buchanan and the house passed to him. He was stone mason and he added the front porch. In the picture below you can see some of the various additions that were made to the rear of the home.

Ashley married Sarah Ann Camfield and they raised their three children in the house. Their son, Daniel and his wife Pearl Camfield, initially lived in Oak Park, IL after Daniel was discharged from the army. They returned to Buchanan in 1921 or 1922 and lived in a house on Days Ave, near the top of the hill. It was a nice little house, right in town; it had indoor plumbing and Pearl was very happy with it. This was the house where Mom was born. She remembers that they moved to the house on Main St in 1930 after Sarah died. According to the 1930 census they were living with Sarah prior to her death. Perhaps they had moved in to help her in her final months.

The house had both a well and a cistern. There was a pump in the kitchen from the cistern and that water was very soft and used for washing hair and bathing.A large wash tub was brought into the dining room and water heated on the stove for baths. The well pump was on the side porch and water had to be brought into the kitchen for drinking and cooking. I believe this picture is of that pump, however the writing on the back of the original only identifies my Uncle Bill, not the location. Grandpa wired the entire house for electricity and added an electric pump but water still had to be brought in from the porch. The outhouse was behind the house, on the other side of the beehives and Mom remarked that they "got stung enough". During the depression mail order catalogs were used and it was a real treat for mom if they got used up before the new one came and they got to use real TP. When Mom was about 13 she and her sister went and spent some time at the family's camp one summer and when they came home indoor plumbing had been put in and the pantry turned into a bathroom.

The parlor was at the front of the house and was wallpapered. There was a dark rug that Mom cleaned by sprinkling it with salt and then sweeping. There was a sofa and matching chair, a pair of wicker rocking chairs, a floor model radio and a combination desk and bookcase. The bookcase was filled with the World Book Encyclopedia. There was a dining room and kitchen and bedrooms and other rooms in the rear additions.

Mom shared an attic bedroom with her sister and their brother had the bedroom on the other side of the house. There was no railing around the stairs and they would jump across. The bedrooms only had about three feet of ceiling and then the walls sloped down to just a couple feet from the floor.The girls shared a bed that was shoved up next to this sloping wall and Mom had to be careful not to hit her head. Their room looked out over the spring bulb garden and vegetable garden. The girls didn't get along and when Mom was 9 or 10 she was moved downstairs to the spare room. It was long and narrow and looked out on the peony and vegetable garden on the other side of the house. Many of Mom's memories revolve around the gardens. She worked in the gardens very often. They canned all of the vegetables. They grew grapes for for juice and jam. Grandpa grew peppers that were pickled and were too hot for anyone else to eat. One of her memories is of planting seeds in the rain and after going into the house grandpa remarked that the rain was going to ruin all of his seeds. She was initially upset that their work was to be wasted until he realized that growning plants "ruined" the seeds that they came from.

Mom and Aunt Vivian married and moved away. Grandma continued to live in the house until she could no longer care for herself. Uncle Bill stayed in Buchanan and the house went to him when Grandma died. It needed too much work and the the house was eventually torn down and the property sold.


footnoteMaven said...


This post was brilliant, absolutely unique.

I loved your glimpse into the home itself. The description of the parlor reminded me of my grandmother's house.

You have inspired me to sit down and write what I remember about that home (now gone) so my children will get that glimpse.

The picture of Uncle Bill is precious.


CountryGirl said...

Wow Apple, very cool post. You are uncovering all kinds of things that are new to me. I don't rember ever seeing a photo of the house and only vaugly remembered it.

Janet Iles said...

Apple, you have painted such a vivid picture of the Carlisle home. I enjoyed reading about it.Ber