Wednesday, December 10, 2008

House history: It's contagious...

Spurred on by The Bungalow Chronicles and Bungalow Insanity, I decided to scratch the House History itch this evening...using their methods of checking the 1930 Census data, I found out about a previous owner of our house -- the Stoffer family. Julius P. and Margaret Stoffer were of Romanian descent, and came to the U.S. sometime between 1913 and 1921 -- I know this because they had a 17-year-old daughter (Elizabeth) who was also born in Romania, and a 9-year-old son (Martin) who was born in Illinois.

Julius was a bricklayer in building construction, according to the census data -- his neighbor to the east was a Romanian cement finisher in building construction as well. I wonder if they worked together and/or built these houses? Of course, I believe our house was built about 8 years prior to the census, so anyone could have built these homes and lived in them prior to the Stoffers. That said, the "cement finisher's house" and mine are extremely similar, so who knows?

Elizabeth, it appears, worked as a bookkeeper for a furniture moving company, for what it's worth, at age 17.

So now I'm curious about all this...I wish I had the time to research more. I did confirm that the previous owner died about six months before we bought the house, and was relatively young (50 years old). I do know more about him though, having done research and asking neighbors about him before, when we first moved in.

But I'm excited -- yet, finding out more, I fear, will require a trip to the Harold Washington Library downtown, and would probably require a day or two for it all too. That excites and scares the hell out of me, mostly because I wish I knew where to start first, rather than wasting time figuring out what to do. You know?

I did spend a lot more time today on researching my family tree, rather than my house's previous owners (I hardly know any, so that's why). It's a really cool tool for that, if any of you are into genealogy of your families.

Anyway, if I figure out anything else, I'll record it here, of course.


Stephanie said...

I know the Harold Washington Library had a lot of detractors when it was first built (at times for valid reasons) but I've always loved the Winter Garden. :-)

Good luck digging into the past! It's fascinating isn't it?

Andy said...

Oh, don't get me wrong...I really like the place (and the building...never understood what was "wrong" with it...I think it's a really nice building, honestly).

I just fear all the digging and wading through of information I'll need to invest to pull out what little info I'll end up getting. :) Need to formulate a "plan of attack," as I like to work efficiently and get really discouraged when I don't find useful things. :)

But thanks! Obviously, further events as warranted...

Stephanie said...

I completely understand. We've been here four years and would still know nothing about our place if someone else hadn't done the digging for us - it's not that we aren't interested, it's just like you said - tons of wading and digging. It's hard to find the time when renovation is already sucking up every spare moment!

I'm looking forward to seeing what you dig up though. I love Chicago. I went to college in the South Side (IIT) and lived in Wrigleyville for five years. I still miss the Music Box Theater.


denise said...

See, it's addicting, isn't it? I knew you'd be able to find something quickly! Good luck with your family ancestry too!

Tiny Oak Park Bungalow said...

Not sure if you know about this: Might have something. Also, the library has a searchable historic newspapers archive of the Tribune online. Awesome resource.

BTW, I love libraries but am not a fan of the HW Library. It is an architectural nightmare in almost every respect except for the winter garden.