Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's Spring!

Spring is actually here and my mind has strayed from doing the research on the house. It's just so hard to sit at the computer when I can be looking through seed catalogs and drawing garden plans.

So, yes, we're in gardening mode around here. We haven't consistently gardened in years due to allergies. But last year I planted in pots on the patio and the fresh veggies were a big success. It reawakened the farming genes in my own roots.

We quickly found out that rabbits can get into 36 inch tall pots. The dogs, also, liked snacking directly from the plants. Avon stuck mainly to the tomatoes. Unfortunately, Hagen ate most of the jalapenos and bell peppers. We even moved them to sit on a 3 foot tall bench but that didn't even slow him down.

This year, with Ron's help, we've decided to do some square foot gardening in the back yard in addition to the pots. Today, Ron is fencing in the area to try and put an end to the snacking!

We're trying to do our own seedlings - Ron even made me a light stand! Not only was I late getting some of the cool weather veggies started but I'm learning a lot. I can't remember the last time I actually started my own seedlings.

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts & Cabbage

Several types of bush green beans and a zucchini

Lighted plant stand

So that's what I've been up to rather than doing my research. It is my fault there was only 1 blog this week. I promise I'll get back to it soon. Please bare with me while I try to get refocused.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Indiana Historic Register

Today the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board met at the Indiana Government Center. At that meeting the Horner House, shown on the application as the Horner-Terrill House, was approved to be placed on the Indiana State Register! Our application will be passed on to the National Register for their approval as well. We should hear from them in about two months.
We are very thankful for Indiana Landmarks and their dedication in getting our application completed and filed. Below is more detailed information on the State Register and the Review Board. Hooray for all of Indiana's Historic Places!
 "The Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures (State Register) was created by an act of the Indiana General Assembly in 1981. The DHPA administers the State Register. All properties on the National Register are automatically listed on the State Register. However, a number of properties are listed on the State Register only. The criteria for listing properties on the State Register are virtually the same as the National Register criteria. Listing properties on the State Register protects historic places from state-funded construction projects." - Taken from the Indiana DNR webiste at, a PDF titled, "Properties on the State List Only"
 "The Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board is the committee that makes decisions on a number of preservation-related issues and provides public oversight to the programmatic and regulatory activities of the DHPA. For example, the Board officially nominates Indiana properties to the National Register of Historic Places. Once the Board approves an application and it is signed by the State Historic Preservation Officer, it is a “nomination” that can be sent to Washington to be considered by the Keeper of the Register. The Board also approves funding recommendations for the federal matching grant program, and considers applications for certificates of approval for state-funded projects that will alter, demolish, or remove historic properties.

The Board members are appointed by the governor for three-year terms. Five members are appointed for their expertise in either archaeology, architecture, architectural history, or history. The Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Indiana’s SHPO, serves as the Board’s Chair. The Board also includes and benefits from the DHPA division director and three citizen members whose interest and activities in historic preservation have gained recognition." Taken from the Indiana DNR website page at on preservation boards.  has many resources on historic properties in Indiana.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Abstract & Title Part 9 - Fleece Family Part 3

I was very surprised to find the marriage record of Mary E. & Silas Fleece in 1920. After finding the obituary for Fannie, we couldn’t find any entry in the 1920 Census for either the house or Silas. It was a random search for Fleece in 1920 that brought up Silas & Mary’s marriage certificate.
So just who was this lady who married Silas Fleece in November of 1920? There is not a simple answer. Although I’ve spent a week doing research on her, I have more questions now than I did a week ago. It appears she lead a pretty interesting life.
Mary was was the only child of Thomas & Nancy J. Carter Seller of Indiana in 1857. Thomas & Nancy were married in Hendricks County in November of 1855. Thomas’ Civil War draft registration shows he lived in Lincoln, Hendricks County, IN, however, I couldn’t find anything about his service. Mary was born May 28, 1857. We’ve not been able to find Mary & her family in the 1860 census. Mary should have been 3 years old. Since this was such a politically tense time, who knows why they do not show up.
The Sellers are again found in Indianapolis, Ward 2, Marion County, IN in the 1870 census. Surprisingly, Thomas is listed as keeping house and Nancy is listed as at school. And Mary, at 13, is listed as having the occupation of stone cutter. It almost makes you think of a modern family doesn’t it? Or does this make you wonder whether the census taker had a good sense of humor or was smoking/drinking something? Well, the census may actually have just gotten off line which would make Thomas a Physician, Nancy keeping house & Mary at school. Interesting and it sounds better this way.
Fast forward to the 1880 Census. I found Thomas & Nancy in Spring Creek, Saline County, Kansas. And next door are Benson, Mary & Esther Van Arsdale. Benson & Mary have been married for 1 year and Esther is 1 year old. Benson is about 28 and a druggist from IN.
Looking back to 1870, Joseph B. (Benson) VanArsdale, born about 1851 in Indiana, is the last child of Jacob & Elizabeth VanArsdale . They are also from Indiana.

Since I haven’t found evidence of a marriage in KS or IN, who knows whether they met before or after the move to Kansas. Here’s the documentaton of Jacobs’ burial information:  Jacob VanArsdale, was born on Feb. 3, 1795 & died on Jan. 15, 1877. He is burried in the Old Thorntown Cemetery in Boon County, IN per FindAGrave.
Again, the lack of the 1890 Census adds a layer of mystery about what happens in the next 20 years. By 1900, Mary is now married to Ernest Spicer and living in Indianapolis at 724 N. East Street. Included in the household are Ester (VanArsdale) Spicer, 23 and also Thomas & Nancy Spicer. The marriage year is 1885 so they’ve been married 13 years. Ernest works in Health Insurance. And Mary is listed as having 2 children/1 living. So is Ester Mary’s stepdaughter (which is what I originally thought) or her natural child? And did Mary’s original marriage ended in death, desertion or divorce? So far, I haven’t found any answers to this.
So what did happen to VanArsdale? This is a very difficult question to answer at the moment. In 1900, Mary is married to Spicer and it appears Joseph B ( Same as Benton?) is living in Denver with a new wife, Florence E. They were married in 1888 and had 1 daughter. Around 1910, Joseph & Florence, with daughter, Clara are living in St. Louis. Is this the same Joseph B Van Arsdel? I have no idea. A lot of additional research will need to be competed to see but it appears that this may be someone entirely different than the Benson VanArsdale who married Mary.
 And in 1909, Mary’s father passed away. Here’s his grave site and some information.

The Directory of Deceased Physicians on shows his date of death as Dec 19, 1909. This date corresponds with cemetery burial date, so I am leaving the date as 1909 even though the grave marker shows 1910.

Dr. Thomas P. Seller from The Journal of the Indiana State Medical Association, Vol. 3

19 Dec 1909 , Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Thomas P. Seller died December 19, at his home, 2926 North Illinois Street, Indianapolis, after being an invalid for thirteen years, at the age of 84 years. He was a graduate of Rush Medical College, Chicago. Early in his career lie practiced medicine in Hendricks County, but in the eighties he sold his practice to Dr. Joseph Eastman and went to Kansas, but later returned to Indiana and located in Indianapolis, and was associated with many of the older physicians, among them Drs. Marsee, Eastman, Harvey, Comingor and Oliver, all of whom are now dead. Dr. Seller was a member of the Presbyterian Church.

In 1910, Nancy J Seller is the head of household with Mary Spicer, daughter, 52. In this census, Mary is designated as having no children. So again, is Esther her daughter or step-daughter? 
Mary is found in the 1920 census with her mother Nancy, and her Aunt, Lurena C. Back.

The 1930 Census shows that Mary is once again living with her mother, Nancy Seller, and her daughter/step-daughter, Ester VanArsdale Wirgand, 50. All three women are listed as widows.
And Mary was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in 1931 as Mary Esther Fleece, Birth unknow.
I have not been able to find burial or obituary information for Silas but he must of died sometime between 1920 & 1930. Maybe someday when I'm retired, I'll be able to do some additional investigations. 
Next time, I'll look at Silas' children before we dive into Silas' & Fannies' ancestors. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Abstract & Title Part 8 - Fleece Family Part 2

We left off with the Fleece family in 1910. I had expected to go forward in this blog from there with the entire family as far as I could find information. Because I’ve found so many interesting tidbits, now I’m planning 2 - 3 blogs. Tonight, we’ll follow the Fleece family up to 1920 because we know that Silas sold the house in 1920 but at this point, I can’t find the exact date.

In the 1910 census, the Fleece family is still living at 410 South Emerson. Silas is now 51 and it says he is in the gas business, installing fixtures. Fannie is 55 and still keeping house. Verner is 20 and a salesman in the gas business. This made me wonder. We’ve been told that the house was plumbed for gas lights at one time. Did Silas & Verner experiment on the house? Did they actually install the fixtures themselves? Did Verner use the house as a “show home” for potential clients? It’s just too bad there is no way to find answers to this type of questions about the house.

In the next several years, we really haven’t been able to find much on the family. Apparently Silas’ business is doing pretty well because he is able to take out ads in the Indianapolis Star. On March 18, 1910, he ran an ad “For Sale – Tree sprayers, all aluminum fireless cookers, gas ranges, private lighting systems. S. F. Fleece, 114 Virginia Avenue.” And then in 1911, there is an ad for Fleece Hardware on E. Washington but the address is illegible. I’m guessing he has moved closer to home and is no longer commuting from Irvington to downtown Indianapolis. I wonder how much time it took to make this 5 mile commute?

1912 brings a happy family event. On May 1st,  Verner married Catherine McEvoy. I found their marriage record on but couldn’t find any marriage announcements in the Indianapolis papers. Some day when I have more time, I’d like to read the old newspapers to see if this was written up in the society pages. Verner was also in the box scores for a number of baseball & basketball teams between 1910 & 1912. It appears he was a very active sportsman.

And at the end of 1912, it looks like the entire family got together at the Horner House for Christmas.

In 1914 we find Silas’ business in the Indianapolis City Directory – “Fleece Silas F. hardware 1138 Garfield av, h 410 s Emerson Ave.” And it appears Verner is working for him and also living at home. Wonder what Catherine thought about that – “Vernon, hardware, b 410 s Emerson av.” Then in 1915, there’s an ad in the Indianapolis Star that I found quite interesting.

The next items we have are Verner’s Draft Record and the application for his service headstone. His draft record shows that he was tall with a medium build, blue eyes and brown hair. Most of the rest of it is very difficult to read but it does say he is working at the Indiana Daily Times. The application for his headstone is much easier to read.


WWI started on  July 28, 1914, however, the US didn’t enter until April 6, 1917. Verner enlisted on July 26, 1918. Armistice Day was November 11, 1918 and Verner was discharged on January 13, 1919. He spent just a little less than 6 months in the service. (This is more than Ron’s grandfather spent since he just barely got out of boot camp.)

And sadly, Verner was only home a little over 4 months when Fannie passed away. I found a very short obituary for her in the May 30, 1919 Indianapolis Star, however, I have not been able to find a more extensive one or where she was buried.


In the 1920 Census, I did find Verne & Katherine at 4027 E New York. Verne is 30 and a general Electrician. Katherine is 25 and it does not give any work information. I haven’t been able to find Silas or an entry for 410 S Emerson yet. To my surprise, I recently found a marriage certificate for Silas on November 20, 1920. He married Mary E. Spicer from Indianapolis. This means I have a whole new person/family to try to research.

So you can see why I may need another blog or two going forward to figure out what the Fleece family is up to during the rest of the 20th century.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What’s Up With The Tar Paper?

The plan for the Bungalow has always been to get it livable and then to restore it when the Horner House is done. Because by then we’ll be bored, right? Anyway, it is a 1910’s Bungalow that still has quite a bit of its original woodwork, if nothing else. So the decision was made to just clean and wax the hardwood floors and refinish them later. But first we needed to pull up the carpet. That’s when the inevitable complication came to light.

When we removed the carpet in the front bedroom we found the hardwood, but it was covered in glue. Not a happy finding, but it can be dealt with. The other two bedrooms and the hallway revealed much worse. Someone, many years ago, had tiled over the hardwood floor. What a crime! But worse was waiting. There was tar paper under the tile. Yes. Tar paper.

 Along the wall you can see where some of the tarpaper is gone, but also what it leaves behind.

Why!?! After some research it turns out that tar paper is an excellent vapor barrier. There are modern materials that work very well, so it is used less, but still used today. Our next question was, “How do we get rid of it?” The first suggestion is to use boiling water on it. Basically you pour the water on a very small area, let it sit for a few seconds, then scrape. Boiling water and a scraper. On your hands and knees. Not gonna happen anytime soon. The second answer is to sand down and refinish the floor. If the paper has been there for very long this is the only way to actually remove all of the tar. Over time it melts into the wood boards and leaves them permanently black. This too is a time consuming process and many sources say it takes a commercial floor sander and suggest hiring an expert. This is not in the current plan either, so what now?

Well, we discussed just laying down a floating laminate over the top for now. It turns out that this isn’t a very good idea either. If there is more than ¼ in total difference in the height of the floor this will put stress on the tongue and groove and the flooring will break. That won’t do either. So, we are now planning on carpet! I like carpet! And several places have their installation on sale. Carpet it is.

One last note on the tar paper: I think that anyone who proposes using it should have to remove it from an old floor to see what an enormous pain in the blankety blank it is, before they are allowed to continue this evil practice. :)


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Irvington Post Office Fundraiser

If you haven't already heard, the building that originally housed the post office in Historic Irvington is in sad repair. Unlike the Horner House, the walls are sound, but the roof has a big hole in it! The Irvington Development Organization and the Irvington Historical Society are trying to save this bit of history.

The event on Saturday is a fundraiser for this wonderful project. One of the local businesses has even offered a matching challenge. They will match all funds donated on Saturday up to $4,000.00. This looks to be a fun evening and we are recommending it to everyone. I was really hoping to go, but the doctor has told me to avoid large gatherings of people right now. One of the medications I am on puts me at higher risk for getting an infection. I hope that they can get me healthy soon!

We wish good luck for the fundraiser and hope many of you will turn out for it.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Abstract & Title Part 7 - Fleece Family Part 1

Researching the Fleece family history has been both frustrating and fascinating. The frustration comes from the fact that fleece is so difficult to Google! I had no idea that there were so many different types of fleece. It seems nearly every member of the fleece family has been named for a different type of fleece or a designer who works with fleece. The fascination comes from the long and interesting history of Silas’ family. Considering that I was never a great fan of studying history when I was young, working on my own genealogy has pushed me to the dark side. Now when I start working on anyone connected to my family or the Horner House, I just get totally carried away. Not only do I want to know who, what, when, where and why but I also want to know what all is going on in the area at that time. With the Fleece family, I got so carried away, I don’t even know where to begin. There is so much interesting information that it’s hard to choose. So I’ll try to begin at the beginning of my introduction to the Fleece family and go from there.

Silas Fleece and Frances, his wife, purchased the Horner House in 1900.  In fact, they purchased the property on March 29, 1900 and it was recorded on April 4th. (Just think, this was almost exactly 113 years ago!) The house was only 25 years old. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know exactly what it looked like at that time? 

So I began looking to see what else I could find out about Silas & Frances. Silas (also known as Silas Franklin, Silas F. or Frank) married Frances (also known as Frannie or Fannie) Davis in Eel River Township, Hendricks County, in 1879. It appears they were both from the township, although I haven’t been able to find very much at all about Fannie. (Just since writing this yesterday, I’ve finally found a lead to Frannie’s family. Now I just need more time to track down some additional facts.)

In the 1880 US Census, Silas & Fannie are listed at 34 Broadway St, New Salem. Silas is working in retail groceries and Fannie is keeping house. I kept looking and found they had 3 children before they moved into the house: Aletha born September 1882; Alta born November 19, 1884 and Verner B. born October 1889. All the children were born in Hendricks County.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is no 1890 US Census due to a fire where it was stored. To help fill out the data between 1880 & 1900, I used the Indianapolis City Directories at Keep in mind that the entries were likely 3 – 6 months old, so these are not always 100% accurate. The oldest online copy I could find was 1893. The entries for 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896 & 1897 are mostly the same:  Fleece Silas F, general aft D M Osborne & Co 170 S Penn, h 88 Highland pl. The only change is the address  changes from 88 to 90 Highland pl in 1894. This might be due to the city “tweeking” the address, a correction from the first directory or they may have truly moved next door. These are kinds of details the average genealogist spends years researching.

The family was in New Salem for the 1880 census and were in Hendricks County when all the children were born. They are in Indianapolis in the 1893 City Directory. So they moved to Indy sometime between 1889 & 1893. Eventually, I may be able to get a more accurate date but this will have to do for now.

In the 1900 City Directory, Silas has changed jobs but not addresses: Fleece Silas F, mnfrs agt, 316 S Penn, h 2018 Highland pl. And in the 1900 Census, the Fleece family is living in the house. The address at that time was 504 South Emerson. Silas F is listed as a general agent, was born in May 1858, is 42 and has been married 21 years. Francis (sp) is listed as born in February 1855, 45 years old, had 4 children/3 still living, and no occupation. The children are 17, 15 and 10 and the younger two are at school. (This was the old terminology for children attending school & doesn’t mean they are away at school.)

Here is the entry for the 1902 and 1903 City Directories: Fleece Silas F, state agt Grand Detour Plow Co, h 504 S Emerson av (I). Haven’t had time to do any research on Grand Detour Plow Co. Maybe some day…

In the 1904 City Directory, Aletha makes her only entry. Silas’ entry is the same in both 1904 & 1905 and he has another new job.
Fleece Aletha O, stenog 12 Fletcher’s Bank bldg, b 504 S Emerson av.
Fleece Joseph B, solr, h 408 S. Emerson av.
Fleece Silas F, agt 8 Board of Trade bldg, h 504 S. Emerson av.
Oh, and Joseph Fleece in the 400 block of Emerson is Silas’ brother. We’ll have more on him in another blog.

There is no online directory for 1906, 1908 and 1910. And by 1907, Silas’ entry has changed again: Fleece Silas F, mnfrs agt 221 W Wash, h 504 S Emerson av. And it changes again in 1909: Fleece Silas F, mnfrs agt 42 Baldwin bldg, h 504 S Emerson av.

Both girls get married during this same time frame. Aletha marries Joseph L. Rogers on February 10, 1905 in Chicago. Alta marries Harold E Emeis on December 18, 1907. One of the questions I’ve always had was whether there were ever any weddings in the house. Since Aletha married in Chicago and Alta married in December, the only wedding possible would have been fairly small and private. Oh well, maybe there have been other opportunities in other families for a home wedding. The house just seems like a wonderful place to have a “Father of the Bride” or “Steel Magnolias” type of wedding and/or reception. OK. Moving on.

And in November of 1910, Jacob Fleece, father of Silas, passes away in North Salem, IN. I’m including his obituary from the Indianapolis Star as a teaser for future blogs on Silas’ ancestors.

This takes us through the first 10 years of the Fleece families ownership of the house. And this is where we’re going to leave the Fleece family for now. There is just so much material and I don’t want to bore you all so badly that you don’t stop back by our page. 

The next blog will take the family as far into the 20th century as we can. Additional blogs will explore Silas’ family and Fannie’s if I can find some more goodies. See you all next week!