Monday, March 14, 2011

Stull #10

One house remained to mark the location.  The town existed for only a short time and most of the houses were torn down after the occupants left and the land changed hands.  It stayed a small community well into the 20th Century until new generations of farmers moved in and Swissvale became all but forgotten.

The remaining house was dark limestone with an ornate Italian-style roof, windows and chimney.  The windows were boarded up but all still intact.  The owner has kept the house protected from nature and vandals although he has not set foot in the house in nearly ten years.

Frank, Katie and Matt walked through the field toward the house.  Frank dug the key the owner had given him out of his pocket.

"This is a really nice house," Matt said.  "Too bad it's been sitting abandoned since the forties."

"The owner's done a really good job of protecting the house.  According to him, the house was left alone until the sixties.  That's when he started boarding up the windows.  He changed the locks on the house after someone kicked in the door and started a fire in the early nineties.  The fire really did a number on the stairs so a couple years ago, he had the stairs removed," Frank inserted the key in the lock and unlocked the three locks that were installed on the door.  He, Katie and Matt turned their flashlight and stepped inside the house.

Right in front of them was hallway next to where the staircase used to be. Off to the left was a living room, to the right was more than likely a bedroom. Frank took out his camera but grumbled.

"With the windows boarded up it makes it too dark to take pictures," Frank said. "And our flashlights don't produce enough light..."

"Just do the best you can. The pictures don't have to be perfect," Katie said. "I love all the detail on the woodwork in here." Katie ran her fingers along the window trim and sills and wood around the fireplace.

Along with the wood, the fireplace had some stone detail with a stylized 'W' carved just above the hearth. "Do you know the name of the family who built the house?" Matt asked.

"The only name I found in what little history Swissvale has that starts with 'W' was Worley but I have no evidence that they built or lived in this house," Frank said.

"But one can assume," Matt quickly said. "'The Worley House'," Matt named.

"How do we get to the second floor?" Katie said.

"We don't. Without stairs the second floor is off limits. We may get hurt if we attempt," Frank nixed.

"So why are we here? We can barely take pictures, we can't explore the house, we barely know anything about this place," Matt complained.

"You didn't have to come. You could've stayed at the Society."

"You've been asking me to come with you to Swissvale for weeks, ever since you got permission to come here," Matt said.

"Because Katie's arm was broken! Now that it is healed I asked her to come. You didn't have to," Frank explained.

"Yeah, I could've stayed at the Society and did absolutely nothing..."

Katie interrupted Matt. "What the hell are you guys arguing about?"

"We're not arguing," Frank said.

"It's just a friendly squabble," Matt crossed his arms.

"I'm thinking it's related to Judith passing away," Katie said. "She left you part of her estate and you are worried that you will not use the money wisely."

"I don't even know how much it is but she wanted me to do great things with the Society and I'm afraid that I'm going to fail," Frank sighed.

"And Matt," Katie turned to Matt, "you want to avenge your uncle's death. You are mad that this curse took your father and Uncle John and you are afraid that you are no closer to finding out the reason for this curse."

Matt shrugged. "Maybe..."

"Then we need to work together. Fighting with each other isn't going to help us solve the curse and make the Society respectable. We need to explore this house as much as we can and get as many pictures as possible then we need to go back to the Society and figure out what the 'W' means," Katie said, her voice getting more excited with each word.

The three of them spent the rest of the afternoon at the house attempting to get pictures of every nook and cranny. The doorknobs had a date of 1857 printed on them and two candleholders were in each room since the house was not wired for electricity.

In the kitchen, Matt stood at the top of the stairs to the cellar.  Katie came around the corner and looked down into the cellar and then at Matt.  "What are you doing?"

Matt jumped and screamed.  "Don't sneak up on me like that!"

Katie giggled.  "Sorry.  Are you going down there?"

"I want to..."

"Then do it," Katie nudged him.

"I don't know," Matt hesitated.  "It looks kind of dark and dangerous."

"What's going on?" Frank asked, coming into the kitchen.  "Who screamed?"

"Matt.  He's scared to go down into the basement," Katie said.

"I'll go down with you," Frank said.  "Come on."

Frank began walking down the stairs, ducking because the doorway was two inches shorter than him.  Matt looked at Katie.  "I hate you."  Katie just smiled.

It was a dirt cellar and completely empty.  Frank attempted to get pictures of the stone foundation, the rafters and a small wooden closet next to the stairs.  After taking pictures of the outside, he opened the door.  The inside smelled and the wood was rotting.

"Look at that," Matt pointed his flashlight at the inside of the door where a name was carved in it.  "It looks like a name."

Frank leaned in closer and placed his fingers on the carving and began tracing it.  "I can't make it out.  Looks like Elaine or Eunice...I can't tell but it's dated 1929.  Last name is definitely Worley though."

"Guys?" Katie shouted down from the kitchen.  "It's almost five.  We should head back."

"Okay," Frank shouted back.  "We'll look it up when he get back to the Society."

The three of them arrived back at the Society at 5:30.  They noticed someone sitting on the steps in a suit and holding a briefcase.

"Can I help you?" Frank asked.

"Frank York?" the man asked.


"I am an attorney for Judith Lawrence's estate here to present the papers to you for you to receive your portion of Ms. Lawrence's estate."

"Cool.  Do I just need to sign them?" Frank asked.

"Yes.  There are three copies.  One for you, one for me and one for the court," the man took the papers out of his briefcase and handed them to Frank with a pen.

Frank breezed through the papers.  "How much is this actually for?" he asked.

The attorney looked at the papers then pointed to a number.  "Uh, $5.6 million."

Frank's jaw dropped as did Matt and Katie's.  "$5.6 million?"

"Yeah.  $2.3 million to the Stanton County Humane Society and $5.6 million to the Rock Creek Township Historical Society," the attorney reassured.

Matt walked up to Frank.  "Frank?  I'm gonna need a raise..."

Two new employees and Matt and Katie get close in Columbus.