Thursday, July 05, 2007
Lanesville Life (part 3)
The Nattis, the Greenoughs, the research.......
A glimpse of more recent residents and linking to the past.
In 1932, Waino Natti bought the Lanesville house as a wedding gift for his new bride, Vivienne Haapa.
It must have been a delight as the sellers had lived there from the start and had taken great care with the property. The grounds were filled with plantings of rhododendron, lilacs, azaleas, and iris imported from the Middle East. Hydrangea lined the farthest bank of the little brook and on the near side lilies flourished. What a charming setting for their new life together. We imagined that everything was fine until sometime in 1934 when Waino contracted tuberculosis. He died that year. Vivienne left the house, never to return. For a short time, her parents would come from Ohio for the summer, but never Vivienne. Left behind were all the belongings. Furniture, food, knicnacks, and clothing. In a trunk in the master bedroom we found Vivienne's wedding dress and all the RSVP cards from the guests. Vivienne did move on with a new life in Arizona. The house was littered with Arizona Highways magazines that she had sent to her parents. Vivienne eventually remarried. Her husband worked in the entertainment industry as a stunt man. Having never learned his given name, we always referred to him as "Stunt man Storns".
Waino had purchased the house from Susan Greenough, wife of the builder of the house, James. James and Susan and James' mother, Sarah, had moved to Cape Ann from Upper Musquadaubit Harbor (forgive my spelling!) Nova Scotia so that James could work in the granite quarries. James also had a small "motion" of his own in a corner of the Lanesville property.
James and Susan had five children. They were, Helen, Grace, Lettie, Harry, and Archie. Archie was named after his uncle, James' brother, who died in a prisoner camp during the Civil War. (see footnote). Helen, Grace, and Lettie all died very young. I have forgotten their exact ages when they died. Causes of death were listed as infantile and pneumonia. One of the girls died on her third birthday. Harry died when he was seven years old, during an influenza epidemic. Archie was the only child of Susan and James that survived to adulthood.
And that information (or lack of), and more, became the hiccup in a clear title to the property.
In 1912, James Greenough died intestate and Susan and Sarah decided to stay in the house. Sarah died soon afterwards leaving Susan alone. Archie was still living in the area and visited his mother periodically. In 1932, Susan decided to sell to Waino Natti. With Lanesville being a small, tight knit community, the Nattis and the Greenoughs most likely knew each other quite well. No mortgage was needed by Waino and since Susan's husband had built the house, ownership was never questioned. The deed changed hands for cash.
Then we came along in 1978. We needed a mortgage. We then had a problem. Here are some of the details that had to be first discovered and then solved.
We had to establish the relationships between all the Greenough names. Whether they be husband , wife, brother, sister, children, etc. as I wrote above. Remember, all we started with was James, Archie, Susan, Sarah, the surname Greenough, and the date 1912.
We then learned.....
Since James died intestate (with no will) two thirds of his estate would go to his wife and the remaining one third would be divided equally amongst any surviving children. We had to prove that in 1912, upon James' death, that Archie was his sole surviving child. AND, as such, Archie had no children.
So our search began at the Registry of Deeds and that helped with some relationships such as husband/wife, and the year that the deed had been transfered to the Nattis. Gloucester records helped with birth and death records. And the Lanesville Congregational Church showed the family as members. While all this information was helpful in sorting out children from parents, we couldn't confirm that there positively were no more survivng children, or if the surviving children had any heirs.
Now, at this moment I can't remember how we got the lead. But somewhere along the journey, someone had to have mentioned it specifically. Otherwise, we would never have found the needle in the haystack of Greenoughs. It seems that a George Greenough was living in St. Petersburg, Florida. In some way this Greenough was brought to our attention to contact. That was one heck of a phone call!
"Yes," George said, "I know exactly who you are talking about. But, if you really want to know about him, you need to talk to my great Aunt Susie. She lives in Salem , MA."
Oh my goodness, we thought. How old is his great aunt! And, another Susie! She's only a half hour away!
George gave us Susie's phone number and we called her. She was a bit concerned about giving out information over the phone to strangers and asked that we stop by the next day to see her. Her niece would be there visiting and she felt more comfortable having someone with her.
Archie Greenough, Susie told us, was her uncle. He was the sole surviving child of Susan and James. Archie had married but had never had any children.
The worry wasn't over yet. We still had to get home and call Attorney Bob and tell him that we had the information we needed to clear the title. As soon as we walked in the door we made the call. Bob's secretary told us that Bob would draft an "Affidavit of Pedigree" for Susie to sign, swearing to the family relationships that she had confirmed. Then her next words left us in fear. Bob was on vacation in Washington state for one week. That day in 1978 when we talked to Susie Greenough, we learned that she was 84 years old.
We feared that she would die before Bob returned.
footnote: Southerners refer to the Civil War as The War of Northern Aggression.