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Northeastern Pennsylvania Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pocono area
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Old 03-12-2011, 03:32 PM
Status: "Cats know. Cats always know." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Pennsylvania
15,604 posts, read 9,629,865 times
Reputation: 26118

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if you have a dirt basement and a metal detector, you might want to scan the floor. hope you're not squeamish but in a house that old, if someone died in winter when the ground was frozen...........well, you might find some old jewelty or something.
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Old 03-12-2011, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
1,788 posts, read 2,495,747 times
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I spent many hours at the Historical Society and was able to gather info on my 1886 farmhouse! All I found in my walls were clothing that was used for insulation and a Buffalo penny....I'm still searching for gold!!!!LOL! Good luck and enjoy your home!
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:18 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
17,657 posts, read 21,837,568 times
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PAhippo, most of my basement is paved - or whatever the correct term is, however, there is small portion of the basement near the walkout door that is dirt. I thought that this area was most likely where at one time, the coal was delivered. If anyone knows what that was for let me know.

Any way I have only been in this little room a few times since buying the house, but my kids claim that there are bones in the dirt.

my question, was it a custon in NEPA to bury the dead in the basement? Was it legal?
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:41 PM
Status: "Cats know. Cats always know." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Pennsylvania
15,604 posts, read 9,629,865 times
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well, if Gramma died in the middle of winter, there may have been no alternative. Legal? dunno. Kinda think it was just the thing to do. Not everyone could afford mausaleums.
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Old 03-12-2011, 07:58 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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But you do know as a fact that people in this region, upon occasion; DID bury relatives in their basements? You have heard this or read this - this is not conjecture or speculation on your part?

Also what was the small back rooms in the basement originally used for?
I have seen this this type of room in many NEPA homes and I am curios.
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:42 AM
Status: "Cats know. Cats always know." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Pennsylvania
15,604 posts, read 9,629,865 times
Reputation: 26118
hey-happy 3 yr anniversary on joining this forum!actually, had a psychic tell me of her experience with their place and, although I don't believe everything psychics say, I believed her about that, and it just sort of made sense it wasn't only her place. small back rooms off basement: root cellar, coal bin, or maybe for escaped slaves. This area (esp Montrose) was pretty active in the underground railroad. Saw a house in Tunkhannock that still had the hidden room where they were hid.
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:44 AM
Status: "Cats know. Cats always know." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Pennsylvania
15,604 posts, read 9,629,865 times
Reputation: 26118
dang puter doesn't do paragraphs anymore.getting a MAC this week.also can't answer emails. sigh
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Old 03-13-2011, 02:57 PM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
22,816 posts, read 21,862,642 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
But you do know as a fact that people in this region, upon occasion; DID bury relatives in their basements? You have heard this or read this - this is not conjecture or speculation on your part?

Also what was the small back rooms in the basement originally used for?
I have seen this this type of room in many NEPA homes and I am curios.
Any time that I've heard or read about a basement burial, foul play was involved. It was never the fashionable thing to do. I think that bodies were held in storage until the ground thawed.

Colestown - "Below the chapel is a vault once used as a winter holding room for bodies that could not be buried in the frozen ground."

Cherry Hill Township

If the small room is at the front of the house, on the street side, it was most likely the coal bin, coal room. If at the back, probably root cellar, canned goods storage.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:13 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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It's in back of the house. Funny thing is I do not see a coal receptacle in this house, although the fireplace which has an ornamental Victorian style surround, was once used for coal. - there is a vent with tiles around it.
I am rather psychic my self and I turned down more than a few houses in the NEPA area because I had an unsettling feeling about the house.

I have no such feeling about this house.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:52 PM
 
525 posts, read 878,098 times
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Our 1882 (or earlier) vintage house has a coal room at the front of the basement, accessed by a door. It exactly occupies the space under the front porch, and it gets very cold in there. Once I can afford it, I will insulate that space a little better. It does have concrete on the floor in there too. The main basement occupies the space just under the living room, but had concrete also. I got more concrete poured on top of the old stuff last summer. The walls are cement too, and a bit uneven, parts of the walls near the back were just piled-up flat stones, and I grouted them to make more of a flat surface so I could paint the walls with that waterproofing gray paint. The nails in the basement are those square brittle kind originally hammered out by hand by blacksmiths, so that attests to its age too. (By 1892 the modern round nail overtook the square nail, and 90% were round by 1913, though they still make them for hardwood floors and restoration applications).
Nails
The basement ceiling joists are 3x8, fairly smooth but not like today's standards, and often vary by 1/4". On top of that were laid 1" tongue-in-groove boards, varying randomly in width from around 2-4", but if they were the original "finished" surface upstairs, they definitely would have looked a bit rough. The full-height section of the basement is only under the living room, there are 2 more sections at the back of the house, accessed by another door. The one under the dining room has been half dug out on an angle, and the one under the kitchen is just a crawlspace barely accessible.
There were also 2 additional chimneys at one time (in addition to the one that goes up on the outside of the house now for the gas heat and hot water heater). One was in the center of the main part of the basement (possibly a big central coal stove there at one time, as there is a slate pad for it there), and the other at the center rear of the dining room (possibly fed by a coal stove in the kitchen). Part of that one still remains from the second floor up to just under the current roof, and the whole thing is kind of on a slant now. In the main part of the basement, too, is a steel beam from Lackawanna Steel (bought out by Bethlehem in 1922), and a few newer lolly columns helping to hold up the center of the living room floor. The whole house is only 16' x 56', but may have been one of the oldest on the block. Before the neighbor's house was built (1898 shows it vacant and probably new), the owner here may have had a brother or relative living in the next lot further down (same last name & occupation), so they could have owned a bit of a spread, but that relative (just a hunch), either died or moved away around the mid-1890's, and they may have sold the land during the building boom on this block. That other house burned down (possibly in the 1970's, I'll have to check with a neighbor).

Last edited by frank754; 03-13-2011 at 06:15 PM..
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