Wednesday, May 16, 2007

About the House



I guess I should at least tell you all a little about the known history of the house.

None of the paperwork we have found on the house agree on when it was built. All we know is that it was built between 1895 and 1901.

We do know that there was a house on the property in 1873 (you can still see the outline of the foundation in the fall).

The house was build by James Mordy for his second wife Margaret as a wedding gift. We have not found a marriage date for them but have been told it was "around the turn-of-the-century". Unfortunately, the archives for the City's paper were destroyed in a fire back in 1972, but we are still looking.

We do know that he was of English decent and came from a wealthy family in Pennsylvania. No one really knows why he came to Kansas and we have not been able to find out what he did for a living. When the house was built he did import a lot of the wood used, along with some of the other building materials. To help date the house we know that it had dual lights - the kind that had both gas and electric. We did find one snippet in an article that said that the property was "one of the more stately homes in town, complete with the most modern conveniences and electricity".

In 1923 Margaret died. It was too much for James so he closed down the house and moved to Wichita. He didn't return to our town until he was buried. So the house sat empty for a few years. After his death, one of James' brothers took over the property. Eventually the property was listed under this brother's name. When James' son, James T., returned to town as the Presbyterian minister, he took over the property. Then, in 1946, the couple who owned the house before us bought it.

I know it isn't much of a history, but it's all we have. There are so many conflicting pieces of info out there about the house, and the builder's family, that we don't know what is true and what isn't. All we know for sure is that it remained in the hands of the Mordy family, in one way or another, until 1946.

If we learn more, and perhaps more accurate, information I will post it.

BTW - the picture of the house at the top of this post is from 1930. It's the earliest known photo of the house. The reason the picture was taken was that the porch was redone and the builder who did it wanted a picture. His daughter gave it to use. Why they put that low wall around the porch we will never know. The owners before us removed it.

One thing of interest, there is a very good chance that my great grand father built this house. He, along with his brothers, built over 75% of the larger, nicer homes in this town, along with most of the other ones too.

1 comment:

Lashe said...

I saw your "puzzle" about the previous owners of your house, and since I was doing some genealogical lookups of my own this evening I tossed in "Mordy" and "Kansas". I think I may have found what you've been looking for. :)

James Mordy married a Maggie Thompson on May 3, 1883 (I found this via the GenWed: Kansas page, which had a link to marriage records for the county through Nov. 1906. The index you're looking for is Surnames starting with M through O, which was compiled by the County Historical and Genealogical Society. The record itself is in Book B, page 228.)

Since I was also looking up a couple of census records for "my" people, it only took a couple minutes to do a quick search and save off copies of the census sheet images for them from 1900, 1910 (indexed as "Mondy"), and 1920. If you don't already have that info, drop me your email address and I'll pass them on. (Free library databases rock.)


Good luck with the house and grounds - it looks like a great house! (We have a 1914 foursquare that we're starting to work on.)