Sunday, November 04, 2012

Solitary House in the Woods

Is this house the oldest surviving home in St. Vincent...?

This house, located all by itself in a woods that covers its entire block, is just west of the St. Vincent School.  To be a bit more specific, it's near the southwest corner of the block.  I went by that house hundreds of times when I lived in St. Vincent growing up.  It was near the corner of our own road going north, and as long as I can remember, no one lived there.

I wondered who had built it, why no one lived there now, and why that particular block of land was never cleared or anyone else built on it.

As I prepared for the St. Vincent town reunion earlier this year, I was making new connections with people who have old connections with the town itself through the St. Vincent Memories' Facebook page.  I learned  new things from them about the town.  This very house came up in conversation, and I attempted to find out something definitive.

Who lived here?
This is what I was able to find out, mostly in this one, long thread:
Betty Jeanne Thorsvig: I vaguely remember Mom saying the Cleems lived there. Don't know which family tho.
Trish Short Lewis:  I think I heard someone else recently mention Cleems lived there...yeah, I think it was Margaret Gooselaw Cleem! The cobwebs clear. But I'm also wanting to know if anyone before them had it. It's old, and I'd like to know its history...
Lisa Skjold Vagle:  Too bad I can't ask dad. I know he'd know for sure. I might call uncle Pete or uncle Harris and see if they remember...if they remember exactly which house I'm talking about.
Keith Finney: Leona (Gooselaw Hemmes) would know as well
Trish Short Lewis:  Lisa, I bet your Dad would know too! Our history is passing away, it's so important to find out who we were and remember the stories...
Georgine Cleem Whalen: Ask Ron I think this is the house he pointed out to me on my visit in 2010
Kristine Baldwin Ohmann: Yes Ron Cleem lived there when he was young. We just talked about this house a few nights ago. He said it was an office building from one of the elevators, and his dad moved it to town. I forgot to ask if he know which elevator...He remembered after one of the floods his dad having to pound down warping floor boards. Floods were sure hard on the businesses, houses and people, wish they had the dike we now have. When Ron was older they moved to the other side of town to his grandmother's house and where they live now.
Trish Short Lewis: Now we know (most) of the rest of the story! Thanks, Kristine!
Sara Godon Freeman: Trish, my dad said Casey Cleem owned the house, with no previous owners. My grandpa bought the house after that to use it for storage.
Keith Finney: Sara was Bill your grandpa?
Sara Godon Freeman: Keith, yes Bill was my grandpa.
Phil Gooselaw: It seems to me that the Lester Wold family lived in the first house west of the old school. (On the SE corner of the block. Casey Cleem lived more toward the SW corner of the block and just north (across the street) of Bill Godon's place. Ron should know whether this was their old house or not...It looks to me like the Cleem's house... [Phil is talking about the house I meant, i.e., SW corner...]
Dorothy Barber:  I thought at one time Don (Giffen) told me that his aunt Bessie moved to St.V. from Vesta with her son Howard (Ekstrom) after she was widowed and she taught school in St.V. and she lived in that house or next door to it. I don't know who could prove it, though. Also, where did Bill Stacey live? Somewhere back in there?
Von Lang Noble:  My dad, Shirley Lang, was born in this house, Jan. 21, 1916.
Trish Short Lewis:  Really, Von Lang Noble? That is very cool. Can you tell me a bit more about that? I assume your grandparents lived there? Who were they? Do you know if they were the ones who moved this building to this location to use as a home? I was told it was once a building that was part of an elevator company just outside of town, a bit east of town by the railroad...
Keith Finney:  Was it out at Sultan elevator or by the old St. Vincent Elevator?
Trish Short Lewis: You'll have to get that answer from Ron Cleem via Kristine Baldwin Ohmann - see this thread several responses back...I don't know the answer myself.
Betty Clow Dunn:  If this is the house JUST west of the school....the first one in that block, I believe (like Phil Gooselaw) that the Wold's lived there. I was a good friend of Angie Wold and often visited her in that house [I did not mean JUST west, but the SW corner of the block...]
Georgine Cleem Whalen:  With all of the guesses here I have one more...I have a picture of what looks like to be this exact place about a year and 1/2 ago while in St. Vincent which Ron had shown me that he had lived there. Unless there were a ot of places that looked just like this I have to vote 'Cleem' LOL
Trish Short Lewis: What I want to get down is, who was the first. Who moved it to where it is now and first lived there...?
Angela Lucas: I am pretty sure that Von Lang Noble once said her father Shirley Lang was born in the same house where his own father, Stanley Lang, was born. If that's the case, then this would be the house where Stanley Lang's parents, Joseph and Margaret Lang, lived in 1890 when they were first married. They only lived here for 2 years.
Trish Short Lewis:  Angela, definitely the earliest info so far. To all the people who lived in that house, I salute you. It is very, very small! Then again, the house I grew up in, before Mom and Dad added on, was pretty small, too. I think today we've went too far and houses are getting way too big. Small is nice. Small is easy to clean. ;)
Von Lang Noble:  I don't know if my Grandfather, Stanley Lang, was born in this, but my dad, Shirley was. My Grandmother, was Margaret Turner. They had two sons, Shirley and Kenneth.
Kristine Baldwin Ohmann:  Just got a tour from Bob Cameron about that block. And there were at least 3-4 houses on that block next to the school. At least in the 1940s or so... Only this house in the middle of the block remains. Wolds were in the house closest to the school. Then the middle of the block was the Casey Cleem house (Ron Cleem lived there when he was young) And then on the corner furthest from the school was another Cleem house. Uncle to Ron Cleem). Many items and buildings floated away in the 1950 flood it was a few feet higher than the 1948 flood. The school was on the highest ground in town and many people has to stay at the school for up to 6 weeks until the water went down.
And there you have it.  Some of my assumptions were wrong.  There were other houses on that block at one time, but they are long gone with brush and trees grown up in their place.  Thanks to our woman-on-the-ground, current resident Kristine Baldwin Ohmann, we know from her research (together with the testimony of others above) who lived in the house and the other homes on that block years ago.  Whether it is the oldest home, probably not.  But sometimes it's not always the destination that's fun when researching, sometimes it's the journey itself...