Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Lanesville Life (part 2)
Within days of seeing our dream house, we made an offer. As is, $30,000. Our real estate agent got in touch with the lawyers in Ohio who were handling the sale of the property for the estate of Vivienne Elisabeth Haapa Natti Storns, deceased, of Arizona. Our offer was accepted and we were thrilled. The next step would be to secure a mortgage. For that we went to see the head loan officer at the Granite Savings Bank. This was a good choice. Not many banks would risk money on such a disaster, gambling that we would make their investment worth the risk. It was our good fortune that the head loan officer had grown up in the house next door. She was thrilled that someone would finally be moving in and fixing up the old Natti place. We were set. The formalities had to be taken care of...credit reports, a survey and a title search. A closing date was set for the end of May 1978. We begged out of our rental agreement on our apartment a month early. It was due to expire at the end of June. We'd be out the last day of May.
Then the first call came in. It was our real estate agent. The estate had received two other offers and were going to cancel our agreement to accept a higher bid. Well, needless to say, we were in an uproar and headed straight for the agent's office. This was bordering on being unethical and we wanted answers. The agent told us that the higher bid was only by $100 and it was from a developer. We instructed her to contact the estate lawyers, tell them that we would up our offer to $30,200 and no more. If they tried any further underhandedness we would go to the media with the story. Well, that made it stick. The house would be ours...we thought.
Mid April we started to get nervous. The agent had given us a key and we had been keeping a check on the place. Some items were disappearing from inside the house. The side door, though locked, was quite easy to pry open. During one visit, we found the cellar door ajar. We were afraid someone might start another fire. That the house might burn down before we ever actually owned it. We worked out an agreement between the estate lawyers, the bank, and an insurance agent to purchase insurance on the property. We contacted movers and arranged for all our furniture to be put in storage. We'd be moving in to our new home as soon as we signed the papers. No electricity, no running water, no toilet, and the enormous mess!
And then it happened. Another telephone call. This time it was the day before the signing. This time it was from the bank's attorney. There was a problem. The signing would have to be postponed. The title on the property wasn't clear. This was going to be a huge problem, he said. The attorneys for the estate would not spend the time (money) needed for the research to attempt to resolve the problem. He further told us that clearing the title would be extremely expensive if we hired him to do it. However, if we really wanted to go forward with the purchase, the bank would agree to "hold" the mortgage commitment for us. He also added that to keep costs down, he would be glad to instruct us in the research rather than pay for his time doing it.
We decided to try. Okay, bank attorney Bob, what's the problem?
Bob's reply...the only information that he had was that the house was built in 1865. There were several names that came up in the search. They were: James, Archie, Susan, and Sarah Greenough. The problem seemed to be during the year 1912. The researchers at the Registry of Deeds had quit and reported "a discrepancy" as soon as it was found. He knew nothing else.
Our job....go to the Registry of Deeds and start digging up ALL the records for the property. Report back to him as we found what we thought might be significant details and he would be able to ask for more specific research as information developed.
We spent the next two months at the Registry of Deeds in Salem, MA. We perused birth and death records at Gloucester City Hall. We called local churches inquiring about old membership records. We walked the local cemeteries.
The Greenoughs became our adopted ancestors.
And they stayed with us for quite some time.