18 February 2013

Homes of My Ancestors: Touring the Ludington Farm with Uncle Bob

When I was just beginning my genealogy addiction, I looked to my great uncle, Bob Watts, to point me in the right direction for Porter County, IN family information.  Who would be better to show me the way than Uncle Bob?  He was the longtime mortician at Bartholomew’s Funeral home in Valparaiso, IN and knew everyone who passed in and out, (literally), of the county.  But more importantly, Uncle Bob was the funniest man I have ever met.  Maybe it’s something to do with the profession – laugh, joke and enjoy life – to deal with the sadness of death he had to see every day. He told me on my next trip back to Northwest Indiana, he’d take me on a little tour.  I couldn’t wait! 
I’d been on “little tours” with Uncle Bob plenty of times when I was a child.  He’d take me for a chocolate covered frozen banana at the local drive in restaurant.  At the funeral home, he’d let me “sneak” into the room that held all the caskets and when I acted like I was the ONLY child in the universe who had been able to see a room like that, he absolutely agreed that I was the most special. On a trip to see his son Mark play football at Augustana College, our family made an unexpected stop at a home. “Are we picking someone up”, I asked?  “No, we’re dropping someone off”, he said as he picked up the brown cardboard box I had been sitting next to in the back seat for the last few hours.
When the day arrived for our genealogy tour with Uncle Bob, my mom, grandma and I were in for a special treat.  We got a fantastic guided tour to places all over Porter and Noble counties in Indiana that included homes, resting places and hangouts of our ancestors with plenty of funny stories to boot.  One of these places was the Ludington farm near Porter Crossroads, IN.
Uncle Bob Watts talking with the owner of the Ludington Farm in 1992
When we arrived at the farm, we saw that the beautiful red barn probably looked very much like it did when my 4th great grandfather, David Ludington, built it in the mid-1800’s.  The white farm house he had also built at the same time, unfortunately, had lost its charm.  Don’t get me wrong, the house was in excellent condition.  But, as with many old farm homes, the new owners changed portions of it to make it more modern or bigger over the years. Listening to my grandma, Marjorie May Watts and her brother Bob speak, they described how it used to look and the fun they used to have there as kids.  We moved on to the next stop of our tour and I felt a little disappointed. I wished I could have seen the house in her old glory.
Then one day this happened:
Art Watts, Bob Watts, Bill Link, Esther Link and Marge Watts in the 1930's at the Ludington home.
I came across an old 1930’s family photo of some of the Ludington’s grandchildren, including my grandmother and Uncle Bob.  My eyes froze as I saw that white home behind the kids.  It was the old Ludington home, probably as it had been built!  It had two grand porches with lovely columns! It was surrounded by lovely shade trees.  And, it appears that there was a second story above the side porch.
Sometimes, wishes do come true.

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