Monday, July 11, 2011
The Luff Family Lived Here
The staircase is probably the only original piece of woodwork left in my house, which was built in 1901. If I throw a baseball cap on top of the base of the banister in an effort to get it back up into my son's bedroom, it looks like the head of a little boy in the dark. I've jumped out of my skin a few times catching a glimpse of it while heading down the steps for something in the middle of the night.
Sometimes I wonder about all of the people who have gone up and down these stairs over the years.
After eleven years of living in this old house the walls are finally talking. A seriously exciting break in the Christie house research occurred last week, when one of our fantastic neighbors gave us a folder of research on our beautiful money pit. He was looking up his own home, but ours kept turning up in his search through the old local newspapers that are archived online. I have been stuck for months with a giant hole in my house history research and the information I got from my neighbor filled in part of the gap.
The Luff family lived in my house from the 1920's until the late 1930's.
The oldest article that mentions my house tells the story of chicken thieves who broke open a coop on my property on a cold night in January, 1927. Mr. Frank Luff owned the house and "nine nice laying hens from his stock were stolen." The article states that the thieves "selected their prey carefully leaving only the younger birds."
The funny thing is that I thought I found the foundation of an old coop or maybe a barn at the back of my property one year while raking leaves.
The next article is Frank Luff's obituary dated November 30, 1934. Apparently Mr. Luff died in the house at the age of 73. The article states that Mr. Luff was a local resident for many years, which suggests that he could have been the one who installed electric in the early 1920's and that means he may have been the second or third owner. He might have been the one who smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes. (I found a piece of the box in the house.) The funeral services for Mr. Luff were held at home by the Rev. Gernannt of the local Emanuel Lutheran church and his burial was in the cemetery next door. So Mr. Luff is still nearby and I wasn't able to resist looking for his headstone the next time I jogged through there. Are you creeped out yet? Just wait, there's more.
Frank Luff's wife, Susanna, according to another article dated 1930, had a nervous breakdown in my house and was treated in a New York city hospital, which explains the spoon that hit me in the head as my husband and I were tearing down the old plaster ceiling in the dining room a few years ago. I don't know why her name is spelled differently on her grave; maybe the obituary was incorrect. The words "mental diseases" were engraved on the spoon I found in the house. The Luffs raised five children here three girls and two boys. I'm not sure where they put them all as there were only three small bedrooms back then which might explain Mrs. Luff's brush with insanity. We extended the second floor in 2004.
The Luff Family Lived Here-Part II
Can you imagine how excited I was to find out about this family and their history in my old house?
I have discovered more about the Luffs since the last time I posted here. Susan and Frank's daughters took the names Lux, Ferris and Newton in marriage. Their son Frank moved to Newark as an adult and Charles stayed in the family home in Patchogue.
The best discovery, was a Patchogue Advance article dated August 11, 1933, titled "Bathers Are Rescued By Two Unknown Men." From it I learned that Susan Luff and her grandson Richard were rescued from drowning while "they were bathing off The Sandspit." I'm guessing that's somewhere near Mascot Dock in Patchogue, NY.
"The family was down at the water and the grandson went out and without realizing it got beyond his depth. He started calling for help and Mrs. Luff went to his aid but also found herself in deep water and unable to help her grandson. She called for help but members of her family were not nearby at the time and did not hear her. However, there were other bathers nearby and two young men came out and helped Mrs. Luff and the little boy to shore where they were found to be little the-worse for their experience,except for shock. In the excitement, no one bothered to get the names of the two who came to their aid."
In the same issue of that newspaper, Mrs. Luff has a letter of thanks published to the unknown good Samaritans.
Next, I found out that the Luff's son Charles played high school football and lived in the home in the late thirties with his wife and children. A September 2, 1938 issue of Patchogue Advance states that their five year-old son Robert has returned home from a hospital stay where his tonsils were removed. Charles had at least two children, Robert and Arlene Ruth. The papers track the many birthday parties they attended in the 1940's. Arlene Ruth had perfect attendance at school in 1942.
Boarders and Renters came after the Luffs
In the upcoming years my house took quite a beating. I'm guessing that Charles and his family sold or rented it out to boarders after the death of his mother, Susan, in 1947. An article dated April 1, 1948 states that a Miss Gretta Shirley Williams, niece of the Fosters, married Vincent Rizzi who grew up two doors down from my house. I think Miss Williams was a boarder in my house. I was lucky enough to speak to Vincent Rizzi's brother before he passed and I know that my house was purchased by the brothers and remained in the Rizzi family until the late 1970's, when the owner before me purchased it.
Another boarder, Margaret Mahoney, was injured in a fatal crash on Veteran's Highway according to an August 16, 1957 issue of Suffolk County News. The sedan she was riding in as a passenger hit the back of a truck transporting metal pipes. Some of the pipes crushed the skull of the driver, a Ms. Margaret Matson, 21, of East Patchogue, who later died of her injuries in Brookhaven Hospital.
One of my neighbors grew up on my block and remembers playing in the "scary brick basement" of my house with some of the six children who lived here in the 1970's: she said the family rented the home. The basement has since been finished, but, at the moment, I would still consider it scary since it could use a face lift.
Stay tuned for more random Christie House History!
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.