Building a shoestring so far….

I can honestly say that building has been eventful so far and I do fill a little alone, as the one with the past history of having lived in the country before.  This isn’t helped though by the fact that I moved off to college at 18 and have lived in a populated area ever since….  Things to deal with that I have to get used to are sun, dirt, mice, bugs, and the whole different ways of doing things. We are still plodding on though.

Our plans are pretty simple: to build on the farm that my family has been at since I entered second grade.  My parents bought part of the farm from a distant cousin and the part we are building on was purchased from another cousin years later.  The land is the land that my ancestors lived on and more recently my grandmother Mildred Eldridge Richter’s brother Ernest Eldridge had his house on and then his son James Eldridge.  My father buried the house for my great Uncle Ernest in the 80s.  – I have to admit I don’t remember ever being in the house, but I’m sure I was at one point or another while we live just down the road. Currently I’ve been picking up blocks and bricks from the dirt and adding them to a pile with a plan to reuse them in some way.

In the woods behind where we are building is a pig barn.  To make it more fun for my youngest, I’ve been calling it a secret hideaway, and it is very secret.   Years ago that area had pigs and horses – and I’m sure lots of other livestock running around, so it’s no surprise that there is still an old barn hidden in the woods.  Currently we have found a fold up chair sitting in it, and it looks like at some point someone has run some lighting out to the barn.  It doesn’t look immensely secure, but as a kids playhouse/hideaway out in the country it does look fun!  It makes me a little excited to imagine all the possibilities to explore with our youngest and his friends once we get moved in!

Getting a construction loan worked out was a little complicated, but we do have it set up.  Our plan is still to sell our house in Kentucky and pay off the construction loan, so we are juggling budgets.  The loan is worked out though, but to save money we haven’t surveyed anything. So as long as we can work out selling our current home before the construction loan reaches a year, we are find.   The tough part doing it this way is that we are so reliant on everything timing out well, and so far it’s really stressful!  Having a son that has autism makes for a little more need for structure and makes change a little tougher. We have been preparing him for the time that we will retire to Illinois for his whole live, so he isn’t having too hard a time with it – but moving and leaving his friends is tough anyway.  So we are trying to stick as closely as possible to the timeline to make life less stressful.

On the spot where we plan to build, a cousin previously had a trailer.  It was last occupied in the 80s or early 90s and is now just a home for what got left behind – and a lot of mice, ants and other wildlife.  The wheels that were previously under it have no way of being used anymore and my father had the county drop a huge pile of dirt in from the of trailer also so that no one could get in from of the frame even if it was possible.  All the copper, lines, furnace and anything useful had been removed from the trailer, so my mothers preference was to just light it on fire and then move the frame that was left.  Some friends were willing to come and cut the frame pieces off to have them recycled, and the frame would be all that was left – with a plan to cut it up later also…   It ended up with only the frame pushed up into the woods by the spot that a shed is being stored until the house is delivered.

To store some of our items, we did get a shed delivered. Other than the house down payment, house insurance and the amount for the loan , it was one of the first purchases.  The shed has two lofts, a metal roof and windows the open besides a door that locks.  It was probably an extravagance, but so far it seems worth it.

We have also had a friend excavate some area for driveway and had some large rock hauled in for a driveway base.  It isn’t great to drive on, but at least we have something.  Soon we need to have a smaller crushed rock added on top of the large rock.

Foundation :

Our modular includes the foundation – 4 blocks high, so the company was to do the foundation. Getting the date and time for when though was tough!  We ended up with the foundation contractor coming a week after the house had been promised to arrive.  Kind of discouraging when you are trying to stick to a timeline for a special needs child.  They did finally show up with any a few snafus. The person from the home sales place had originally told us that they would arrive about 3 hours later than when they actually showed up and that they would call when they got close – instead they arrived before we got there and were parked on an old well.  They did get the foundation footers poured – with the cement truck almost driving into the old septic tank!  They showed up later to do the foundation walls after I had already headed back to our house in Kentucky.

The foundation has a drain in the corner, a vapor barrier, insulation, vents, and pea gravel covering. We ended up with it two blocks under ground on one end and one block deep at the other end.  The also spread dirt out… They will use the dirt to backfill the foundation later. – Which they did just show up this week to put insulation board in and boards across the top of the foundation walls. They have backfilled, but we haven’t seen what it looks like yet, since we weren’t there at the time.

The Well:
In our area a bored well seemed the way to go. There were previous wells, but they weren’t of high quality, or we couldn’t find them.  Water is pretty important.  I’m not completely sure how my husband is going to do with the well, but first we had to get a well.  Drilled wells were a lot cheaper, but had a lot less chance of being productive.  Ultimately I decided to break down and spend the money for a bored well.  We found that many of the well known well drillers in the area wouldn’t return phone calls.  I was able to find the local well map and called a few of the recent well drillers and went will a company that had done some recent wells and seemed to be really responsive to questions.
At first while drilling it seemed we were hitting a dry well, but after giving it some time to sit we found that it was filling with water.  It appears to be filling at .7 gpm – fast enough! our next step on the well will be to get the pump and storage tanks hooked up.

For septic, we were going to use the old system.  We had located an old 750 gallon tank, but ugh, it turned out to have pipes that were busted when the foundation went in, so now we are going to have to price a tank and plan a leach field… Next Step. We are looking at a chamber system for the leach field.


For the electric, we’ve been lucky to have an electrical engineer in the family – so I’m really hoping that the house arrives in time to get help hooking power up to the house.  Right now our fingers are crossed!

The modular company though wasn’t able to tell us anything about the plumbing for the house until the last minute when they let us know that the plumbing needs completed under the house.  It would have been great to know ahead of time to plan, but at least we found out before we moved in!


Finally for the gas/propane, we have arranged for a company to come hook that up.  They are just waiting for the house to arrive. Finally something simple!

Sarah Prickett ( and Uriah Morgan – Marriage, Births and Wills! – So hard)

Finding information about Sarah Prickett and Uriah Morgan has required some real detective work.  So far I haven’t ventured off the web to search, and have found references to Sarah with Uriah a few places.  Sarah Prickett’s family is well known throughout the area (so was Morgan’s)!

Undocumented records I have found, show Sarah as having been born in 1775 and surviving until 1832.  She most likely married Uriah Morgan in the late 1700s.  – Other undocumented records show children starting around 1798.  Their daughter Nancy Morgan was my 3rd great grandmother that married John McArdle in Tyler County, Virginia and then moved on to Illinois.  Surprisingly Nancy passed away 1839, perhaps explaining how she lost touch with her family.  Though distance and the lack of reliable communication at the time is more likely the cause.

The one piece of documentation I have found that shows Sarah Prickett being a Morgan is Josiah Prickett’s will.   Josiah has listed his daughter Sarah Morgan as one of his beneficiaries.  This shows that at the time of the will Sarah was now a Morgan.

Visiting the area around Prickett’s fort and Morgantown is on my list, and I plan to explore more later.  For now though this is interesting and gives me something concrete to include in my file!

Building on a Shoestring

Building on a Shoestring

We are getting ready to move home.  The plan had been to build in another year and a half, but we are looking at going ahead and moving a year early.   I had been looking at what we wanted to do for a while, pricing houses and looking at options.  To retire, we want to be debt free.  We already have all our cars paid off and are doing well in that way.  We do have one younger son, and two in college, but other than that we are doing pretty well.

The tough spot being 1. downsizing – it’s amazing what we have collected and 2. selling our current home.  But our plan is to build with the equity in our current home.  I’ve looked at stick built, manufactured, modular, and buying in other locations….  Buying a home was eliminated pretty quickly with our time frame because there isn’t anything available that meets what we want in a school district that we want right now. – Part of the issue of retiring with a child still in elementary school.  Modular seem to rank higher than manufactured and have more options, so they are a little higher on the list.  In my price range many of the builders pretty much turned up their noses at me.  I did find one that is willing to build for the price that we want to spend.  So we must choose from one stick built builder and a modular home.

The stick built design in the price range we want is about 6 to 700 sq feet smaller than the modular we are looking at in the same price range and isn’t as turn key.  Turn key being we can walk in and it’s done.  That being said, as the stick built is being completed, we would have more options to make changes… but those would most likely come at a cost.  The builder would be willing to work with us.  We could do some work ourselves to save money, but we also would have to do some work ourselves – and it’s not that easy for us to just run up and finish something quickly…

To budget everything, I’ve also tried to get in touch with contractors that do well and septic systems.  What I’ve found so far, is that most don’t like to return phone calls.  I’m not sure if it’s because of me being and individual calling or if it’s because they just have too much work to do, but I gave up on one well company  after leaving many messages.  Another septic company, I left several messages, including one explaining I would be in town that weekend.  They only returned a call after I called back the next week to leave a message that it was too late.  I gave them a second chance and they didn’t show up or call for that either.  I’ve finally cut ties with that contractor under the assumption that if they can’t handle returning calls or showing up when they say they will – or even at least keeping people up to date they aren’t going to service their products.  The bonus of one of the modular builders is that they will act as general contractor for no cost and handle getting septic and well completed.

Even with my plan of building on a small budget though, I do want to keep from skimping on a few things.  We don’t want to cut corners on things like our septic tank and then have toilets or sinks that back up constantly and need visits to be cleaned out.

Living out in the country though will be a ‘new’ experience, despite growing up there. I moved to the city to go to college, over 30 years ago and haven’t lived at home since.  – That was more than half my life ago…  living on the farm again will bring back silence (if you count crickets all night and dogs barking as they chase raccoons as silence), neighbors not being next door, mice everywhere (that’s a constant battle), possums in the trash, coyotes in the yard, and even deer walking past randomly.

Right now we are watching the weather to decide if we can visit, and plan out the next step….

It’s time for a new adventure!


Time to go sledding!  It finally snowed here! Time to go sledding.  Growing up we had a lot more snow than we have here in Kentucky.  I remember playing on snow mobiles, riding on the river, going on trips through the woods from house to house.  Friends would show up on snow mobiles and we would hop on ours and join the caravan.

My dad would also take the tractor and plow our driveway, making a huge snow pile for us in the yard.  My brother and I would spend hours making snow tunnels through the piles. The tunnels would be a few feet long and perfect for sliding down over and over.  We would make igloos out in the yard and carry out our supplies to hang out in the yard, then spend the day playing outside.

Snow would drift against all the fence rows and  pile up to be several feet high.  I remember riding snow mobiles across the tops, above the fields – and that one time we hit the gap in the snow.  My mother was driving and I was riding and off we went into the air. Nothing…  I still keep saying we were lucky to have survived childhood.

We would ride up hills that I would now swear were at a 90 degree angle to the ground but surely weren’t completely 90 degrees, riding across rivers, with my dad’s instructions to not stop since it wasn’t frozen solid (go fast!), and of course we each had our own snow mobiles.  My father’s snow mobile was an el Tigre that had been modified to race. it was rare for my parents to let us ride it…. Mine was an arctic cat and so pretty!  I loved it, and I had the full snow suit with helmet, pants, snow boots, you name it.  It was our regular outfits for the winter and when not on us you put it on the earth stove to dry.

Of course one of the most important things to remember was to pee first. If you didn’t you had to hold it for a long time.   We would go out and ride for hours.  I kind of remember sleds being pulled behind snow mobiles, but it was more common years earlier to pull the sleds behind the mower.

Snow in the country also meant power outages, so we would use the wood stoves, wood furnaces, fireplaces, and kerosene lamps.   Toilets had to be flushed with whatever water was available and there was no way to wash up…. Well’s don’t work without power.  But I don’t remember it being that bad, though I do remember times when the power went out for a week or more at a time.

While we were playing outside, my dad would either join us or work around the farm moving snow with tractors.  Sometimes dad would end up having to tow people out of the ditch.  Dad was the go to person for anyone in the area being stuck in a ditch… surprisingly this meant we had a liquor closet completely stocked (although I don’t remember my dad drinking much).  A lot of the that liquor is still in the closet.  Dad would take his tractor and drive to wherever he was needed and pull the car, truck or whatever out of the ditch.

I still love the thought of sitting in the corner of the kitchen by the earth stove during the winter, reading a book!  I’m sure I still have a scar on my arm where I touched the stove and got a burn once too often, but I loved that corner of the kitchen.  I’ve tried sitting on the floor in front of our fireplace with a book in our house, but it just doesn’t have that cozy feel of the corner behind the wood stove.

50th – not a funny story though I try….

Yep, it was just my 50th….  I have to say it was a lot more disappointing than I expected.  I actually love birthdays. I try to plan them out for the boys….  Once for my husbands 40th I invited people for a surprise (even my grandmother was there!) and then had a cake with 40 candles.  What I did find was 40 candles creates a small fire warm enough to catch about anything on fire. A friend also snuck into his department office another year and hung a what happened the year you were born on the wall – no name, just the year.

My husband is great and has done things, I just thought there would be something special for my 50th.  Instead, due to everything going wrong, there wasn’t even a cake or a Happy Birthday song.  My family doesn’t even realize they forgot it all. The day before we went to a restaurant I chose for a Birthday/Christmas family dinner – yep birthday by a holiday really sucks your whole life.   The place was packed and took forever, it also took forever to get there due to my mother’s door lock breaking that day.   My birthday was mentioned as the check came and the server did say Happy Birthday.  Having a family that doesn’t care about birthdays they don’t realize that I’m the only one that’s never gotten the free birthday dessert, the restaurant singing happy birthday to me because I don’t feel I should be the one to tell myself.

For my birthday I had it planned to go eat at Indy and see the Children’s museum , but the lock was still broke… So by the time we left and they gave up on the lock it was late.  We arrived at the museum having not had lunch, 2 hours before the museum closed and right after their food court closed.  We ran through as fast as we could…. and then had a late lunch/dinner at a cracker barrel as fast as we could on the way home, arriving late at home.

The next day I did run out to get and eat a free cupcake from Gigi’s while my husband was on lunch break.  My family had already told me they didn’t want any so I ate it in the car before coming home….

Having a birthday at a holiday is pretty disappointing, every year growing up the school would plan the school program on my birthday, friends would be busy with their family, family my family hadn’t seen all year would be coming into town – and it always seemed that they would arrive on my birthday… with my mother saying isn’t it nice they are here for your school program, birthday whatever…. Nope, I just wanted one year that it was a day I wasn’t told that people had to rush off because so and so were coming, or were tired or whatever because they just arrived.  And the whole here’s your birthday/Christmas gift.  What they are really saying is, this time of year is busy and expensive and so we can cut corners on you, so we did….  We couldn’t even splurge for birthday paper.  I didn’t even realize you could get birthday wrapping paper until I had my own kids.

Yep, right now I’m a little sad, and it’s not that I’m 50…  I actually do feel like I’ve done a lot ….  I’m a farmer’s daughter that got a Master’s degree and worked through school as a computer programmer!  I’ve been certified in GIS (map making) and Floodplain management.  I have my name on a lot of published papers….. I’ve coordinated both a state robotics championship (FLL) and an international conference (Environmental Informatics). Now I have a business that isn’t doing horribly and to top it all off I have a great husband and three amazing boys.


Col Morgan Morgan

Col Morgan Morgan is known as the first white settler in West Virginia.  I’m currently documenting my line from Col Morgan Morgan to myself.   He was born in 1688 and passed away in 1766.  he was thought to be friends with George Washington and had children go on to do historical things also.  His son who was my direct ancestor Zackquill, founded Morgantown besides being a Colonel himself and fighting in the Revolution.

Morgan Morgan arrived in what is now West Virginia in 1731. In January 1734, he, among others, was appointed to the ‘Commission of the Peace’, meaning that he was a magistrate. He probably received a Patent for 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) ‘[i]n the Forks of the Rappahannock River & Westwood of Sherrando River’ on December 12, 1734.[4] The long-standing claim that he was the first permanent resident there is, however, doubtful. In fact, the area now known as Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was probably settled by German-speaking immigrants as early as 1727.[5]

Morgan died at Bunker Hill, Berkeley County, now in West Virginia, and was buried in the Morgan Chapel Graveyard.[6]

Zackquill’s son Uriah (my direct line) is documented in the West Virginians in the Revolution book I’ve found Zackquill listed in.   Uriah was found in Tyler County where John McArdle married Nancy Morgan, but that is where I am finding my stumbling block.  I know Nancy Morgan is the daughter of Uriah Morgan and I have documentation showing her married to John McArdle in Tyler County.  John and Nancy McArdle then moved to Vermilion County Illinois before Nancy passed away (before Uriah’s death).  Nancy’s marriage license shows a Zackwell Morgan – most likely her brother, as a witness, but her father isn’t listed. Because of Nancy passing away before  Uriah, she is not listed in his will.

I am currently looking for the illusive  copy of the book of Col Morgan Morgan descendants that should list Nancy Morgan as Uriah Morgan’s daughter.  The book has been out of print for a while and isn’t available through any source I’ve found.  There are a few others also, but I would need to visit a library (not necessarily close to me) to find them.  I’m hoping someone online has a copy of the pages showing Nancy Morgan’s lineage.

I have everything from John and Nancy McArdle on documented, so I am just missing the one link.    Within the line, all of Nancy’s descendant’s in my direct line have met with deaths in accidents.  I am curious now also what happened to her, as she passed away at a young age.  Her son Uriah was run over by an oxen team while saving his granddaughter.  My great grandfather Elmer died in a fire, taking down his whole house with himself in it.   My grandfather drown at Ellsworth park in Danville Illinois while swimming with family and friends on flag day while my mother was only 3 years old.

It’s starting to look like I may have to take a trip to find the correct book.  I have found a site that has a downloadable scanned copy, but to view it requires entering a credit card to sign up for a free account.  To me this seems a little scary… The ecopy in Worldcat is search only:  Searching in the text shows:

Showing 1 – 1 of 1 Results for nancy AND morgan AND uriah AND john AND mccardle
  • Page 159 – 11 matching terms 

Showing 1 – 1 of 1 Results for nancy AND morgan AND uriah AND john AND mccardle
So I’m fairly certain this book has what I need.  The question is getting a hold of a copy of this page and the front pages with dates and information about the book for documentation.  The nearest copy to me is just over 100 miles away in Louisville and about 80 miles from my mother with no copy available to purchase on Amazon.