Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bringing it Back to Life, Part 1

See this house?

Looks like it needs major TLC, right?

Boy, does it ever!

See the back section in the third photo? It's basically two rooms: what I remember to be the kitchen and the dining room of my great-grandmother's and then my great aunt's home. I vaguely remember there being a pantry or mud room of sorts where you see that door when I was a little girl.

That back section of the house, from what I understand, is around 175 years old. It's had "cosmetic" repairs done over the years, but when something is that old, there comes a point where it needs more than just some makeup. At this point, it's resting on the ground and my dad isn't sure he'll be able to save it.

The front part of the house? Well, it's not quite that old. It's maybe 140 or 150 years old. She's had some makeup added, too, bless her heart.

My great, great, great grandfather, David Cooper built this house. He and his family lived in the two back rooms until he could start on the larger front section. He and his wife, Mary Jane Layton Cooper, and their family are buried in the family cemetery that's behind the house a bit. He died before he could finish the house at age 40.

Mary Jane passed away at age 75. Sorry for the bad picture here. There was a tree casting a shadow. She was born in 1846 and died in 1921.

If you're wondering where these grave markers came from, well, my dad poured the concrete and my cousin, Hope, wrote the names on them. The cemetery is another story for another day.

This is Mary Jane. I wouldn't want to upset her, would you? To our knowledge, there are no pictures of David.

I have something of his though. This hammer and tool box were his. My grandmother gave them to me. I treasure them.

The land on which the house was built was handed down by my great, great, great, great grandfather Coleman Layton. This was Mary Jane's father. Mary Jane married David Cooper. Have I confused you yet? Mary Jane and David had 9 children. Their son, Layton Cooper finished the house as he could.

The house has been lived in by descendants of the Layton-Cooper family ever since. David and his family, then my great, great grandmother, my great grandparents, and my grandmother and her sister were born in the house. Later, my grandmother's sister lived in the house and raised her family there. When it became difficult for my great aunt to move around easily in the house, she and her husband moved. The house itself had been left to dad's first cousin, Hope, by my great-grandmother. Hope in turn sold it to my dad for $1.

Look at my grandmother's face between my dad and Hope. She's happier than a (insert witty southern saying of your choice) knowing my dad's getting the house. He's worked since 2002 bringing the old girl back to life, doing most of the work on his own, getting help when he needed it. If you'd like to stick around, I'll show you just how he's done it!


FirstLady Jen said...

Well Geez, Jan, you can't leave me hanging! I must see the "after" pics now that I've seen the before!

Patti H said...

what a great post Jan. I love stories like that!!

Chris said...

That's awesome that he's fixing up the house. Can't wait to see the after pictures.

Brandy said...

Jan, this is such a fascinating story! I am a HUGE fan of hanging on to ones family belongings. I would love to have something of my family's that dated back that far. I will for sure be keeping up with the progress here. I can't wait to see what's comming!

Anonymous said...

I love the story, but are there after pics of the house. Must show.