Age of Family Farmhouse

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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hchastai
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:59 pm

Age of Family Farmhouse

Post by hchastai »

I live in a family farm house on land my family has always owned. However, I'm trying to pin down the age of my house due to conflicting estimates.

Richard Breaks, my direct ancestor, came to Montgomery County Indiana in 1823 and first bought land in 1824, the very land and farm my house sits on today. My grandmother, who did genealogy research, always said that Richard's three sons (Richard Jr., Harrison, and Alvin) all three built houses in the 1860's or so. I can verify that my family has always owned the land but right now it seems we don't have any abstract to verify the age of the house. I've been told that the house skipped a generation, that it did have fire damage if the very early 20th century.

However, from what I know, the two other houses built by the Breaks brothers are actually American foursquare, while my house (which would've been the centerpoint to the land owned by Richard Sr.) is either Vernacular farmhouse or Italianate (without the windows). The house is an irregular shape, as opposed to the two other houses, has a low gable roof, an L-shaped brick front porch. The original siding was clapboard, and was a two story house. It had several old amenities (smokehouses, chicken coops, freezing area, etc). In the basement there is a very old support beam (1ft x 1ft) that was actually carved by an ax.

Richard Breaks Sr. (whose sons were of said to built the house) was verified to of built a sizable house with several amenities around 1860. Since I know my house is the oldest of the three houses, and having had several amenities, I'm beginning to estimate that my house was built around 1860 by Richard Sr Breaks, instead of his sons. Which would put the two other houses in the 20th century due to their architectural style.

Based on this information, can any of you give me any hints of when my house was built or if my thinking is correct. I have a picture I'll upload tonight from pre-1930's at least. It has the original clapboard siding in the picture

hchastai
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:59 pm

Re: Age of Family Farmhouse

Post by hchastai »

IMG_20150811_194147.jpg
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Sombreuil_Mongrel
Posts: 2189
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Location: WV

Re: Age of Family Farmhouse

Post by Sombreuil_Mongrel »

The pic you posted is ostensibly a craftsman style house of the teens or 1920's. The 4 over 1 window sash were from that era as well.
It's not unusual for earlier structures to be added on to, or completely subsumed into a newer building. If the farm had a couple of good years in a row, a lot of the profit would be put into various improvements.
Beams and the like are very good candidates for saving and recycling.
Identify some 1860 style doors or trim or hardware and you may build a better case.
Casey
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hchastai
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Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:59 pm

Re: Age of Family Farmhouse

Post by hchastai »

Well most of the house has been remodeled. My ancestor, Richard Breaks was said to have built a house before he died of sizable stature and many amenities which first opened me up the the possibility that he built it, instead of what I had long heard that his son had built it. The house at one point has smokehouses, chicken coops, hog buildings, etc. Of course they have all been torn down.

I'm reluctant to think that the house is built into the 1900s as vernacular farmhouses were primarily built by first generation immigrants, which only suited my ancestor Richard Breaks Sr. The L shaped house was common among vernacular farmhouses and were much more common in the mid 1800s. Since the house has been remodeled on the inside it's hard to find original doors and such. However, the basement support beam I spoke of. It's possible it was recycled but due to it's placement in a very old cellar basement I have reasons to doubt that. It doesn't seem like it could've been recycled, nor would of of need to have been seeing how much mills were around during that time period.

In the attic, where there was fire damage at one point, I can still see writing dating the house back to at least 1907 so I do know the house is older than 1920's. As for the picture, it was probably taken in the 1920's but the frame of the house was original. There have only been one master bedroom and a backporch added on to the house but the rest of it has never been added to. The brick porch is original I believe, as is the old fireplace in the center of the house. The brick porch was connected to the parlor. I'm thinking of just doing an abstract search to get the official date.

hchastai
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:59 pm

Re: Age of Family Farmhouse

Post by hchastai »

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I have a new update in my search. I was able to stumble across an old 1878 plat book. In this plat books housing locations were actually shown, although not in detailed form. A local historian and genealogist said these black dots were almost always representative of housing locations.

My housing locations is going to be the black dot on the land of W.H Breaks on the southwest side of Section 11, right across from the church.

I compared this listing to a google maps view of the same size, one that showed my house today to see if the representative locations were in line, and they were. The black dot is essentially completely lined up with the location of my house today. It even lists on here a house north of us, which is also the exact location of the other Breaks house which I thought was an American foursquare. This basically does confirm the house was built at least by 1878. However, I do not know if our house is yet the house that Richard Breaks Sr built or if it was just built by WH Breaks .

hchastai
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:59 pm

Re: Age of Family Farmhouse

Post by hchastai »

I don't think the front porch of the house is original, it was probably added in 1911 when the house was remodeled (assuming, that's when it was transferred from grandfather to grandson). It's possible that the dining room was added as well but I think it is actually still original. you can't see the dining room but it's in the back corner.

Someone at the historical society said that the house was probably an I house, an old farmhouse style of the old 1860s. I've recently pinned the date of the house's build to 1863. The house appears on a 1864 plat map in the exact spot. I've traced plat maps through the years from that time and it never has changed from that location. I have transfer deeds that show the house and the land being transferred, as well as obituaries from the original builder.

As for the support beam the historical society said that's a very good indication that the cellar and other portions of the house have been there for awhile. He was able to identify 1870s door trim and other things

hchastai
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 3:59 pm

Re: Age of Family Farmhouse

Post by hchastai »

**Going to try and post this again since moderators aren't approving any of my previous posts.

I can verify it's older than 1920's. Up in the attic there is writing that has a date of April 16th 1909. I can also verify from tax records found at the Courthouse that the house was bought from William H Breaks by William Snyder, his grandson. I can tell you that the front porch was remodeled in the 1910's sometime by the Snyder's, who were verified to have lived in the house all of their married life. I also found an obituary from who I think is the original builder, William Breaks, who died in 1917. He retired in 1905 and moved to the city a couple years later, about the time his grandson was married.

Anyways, I was lucky enough to find a 1878 plat map and then a 1860 plat map. Both had a house listed at this exact location during those years and those that followed. In 1863 William Breaks was given the land from his father after his marriage, so I assume he built the house after that. My thinking now is that the house was built in 1863 by William Breaks, since his father owned the land before that, and his father's house was north of us a little bit.

Anyway, the basement is still original. Still has coal down there from at least pre-1940s or even before. Original fireplace. A man from the historical society said there are considerable elements from the 1860's-1870's still present in the house, however there are also a lot of elements from the 1910 era, which pointed to remodeling around that time which matches oral history.

LorenaBlairBOp
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Post by LorenaBlairBOp »

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